| GLENN: The second time around. |
John Glenn, whose return to space at age 77 caught the imagination of the country, is to tell his story for Bantam in an as-yet-untitled autobiography the house hopes to publish this fall. According to Bantam president and publisher Irwyn Applebaum, who signed the book through Glenn's agent, Mort Janklow of Janklow &Nesbit, "Mort came to us because of his respect for what we'd done with books by the likes of General Schwarzkopf and Chuck Yeager, and didn't feel the need to take it elsewhere." Bantam has North American hard, soft, second serial and book club rights; the agent retains British Commonwealth and translation. Glenn will write the book with veteran journalist and author Nick Taylor, whose own memoir, A Necessary End, was much admired and who previously collaborated with Dr. Sidney Winawer on Healing Lessons. Bantam senior editor Beverly Lewis, who handled the Schwarzkopf book, It D sn't Take a Hero, will serve as editor. The book will cover Glenn's celebrated space flight last year, as well as his 55-year marriage, his political life as a four-term Ohio senator and his reflections on the space program.
BEYOND SWEET VALLEY
| PASCAL: Tougher than "Sweet Valley." |
Francine Pascal, creator of the highly successful Sweet Valley series for teen and preteen girls published by Bantam, is planning a very different kind of series for another publisher. Fearless will be an action series about a 17-year-old New York high school girl who lacks the "fear gene," and, because she is the daughter of an undercover antiterrorist operative, gets into a heap of trouble. Pascal's agent, Amy Berkower at Writer's House, sold the notion for the fast-moving series to Nancy Pines, Pocket's v-p and publisher, for its Archway list, and has also sold an option to Columbia TriStar for a TV series (Sweet Valley High made its TV debut six years ago). Daniel Weiss Associates' 17th Street Productions, which also produces the Sweet Valley books, will package the series for Pocket, and the house plans to launch 12 monthly books this fall, with a six-figure marketing budget.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT
Ripley's Believe It or Not, the illustrated newspaper feature that has been syndicated for more than 80 years and has inspired a score of museums worldwide, is getting a major facelift, a new promotional push and a raft of new book tie-ins and licenses. Sony Signatures, a six-year-old merchandising and licensing firm, which now owns the franchise, is working with Ken Atchity and Will Baronet of Atchity Entertainment International in Los Angeles on the plans. According to Atchity, we can expect to see 22 original one-hour episodes of a TV program that Columbia TriStar will produce for Turner; the first authorized biography of Robert Ripley himself, "a remarkable Indiana Jones character," for which writers are currently being interviewed; a series of Ripley-related theme books on sports, travel and celebrities; a new Ripley comic book; a YA series of graphic novels; and a series of coloring and game books. Atchity said that five publishers have already expressed interest in the publishing program, and some titles are set to go into production as early as this spring.
FATHER, SON &THE SEA
Books about father-son rleationships are hot, and so are maritime adventures. That's why Dan Smetanka, a new senior editor at Ballantine (he was formerly a scout with Maria Campbell) thinks he may have a winner in a book tentatively titled Down to the Seas Again by Chicago-based reporter and author Neil Steinberg. The book was bought from agent David Black on the basis of a proposal only, because its central episode hasn't happened yet. Steinberg had a tough relationship with his father, whose fondest memory was of a trip he took 40 years ago, as a young man, on a merchant steamer around the coasts of Europe. That same ship is making the same voyage again this summer, and this time pére et fils will be aboard, with junior writing away and working at a reconciliation. Ballantine hopes to have the book for Christmas 2000 -- or at least Father's Day.
| GARCIA: A P.I. in dinosaur's clothing. |
One of the weirder notions to inspire an author lately seems also to have inspired Villard's Jonathon Karp, who paid a high six figures to agent Barbara J. Zitwer for Anonymous Rex. Its thesis -- wait for it -- is that the narrator, who seems to be a Los Angeles private detective, is in fact a velociraptor, one of a number who assimilated into the human race when they were thought to have become extinct. The Miami-born author is young (26) first-time novelist Eric M. Garcia, and Villard is planning to make the book its lead fiction title for fall, with a very large first printing. Karp, who said he snapped up the book when it was offered to him exclusively, enthused that, among many other virtues, "it has the best interspecies sex I've ever read." The book has also been sold to HarperCollins in London, a German deal is pending, and Matt Snyder at Creative Artists in L.A. is handling movie rights. Meanwhile, Garcia is working on a sequel.
Correction: Ann Rule points out that she was misquoted in last week's column about the competition on her Bundy book. She told PW, "It worked out," not "I won out."