Cherie Bennett
BENNETT: Many channels for message.

In what may be an augury of things to come for the new Random House Inc., Doubleday has signed a four-book deal with bestselling former Education Secretary William Bennett and plans to share the books among several Random imprints. The deal, concluded between Doubleday president Stephen Rubin and Bennett's agent, Robert Barnett of Washington's Williams &Connolly, provides for the books to be shared among Anchor, Random Children's Publishing, Doubleday's Waterbrook Press and Random House Audio. The first book from Bennett, Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, will be done as an Anchor trade paperback in the fall. Moral Arguments for the Next Century and Reasons to Believe will appear from Doubleday for the trade market and from religion imprint Waterbrook for the Christian market. The Children's Book of Faith is due from Random Children's. All will also be available as Random Audio productions. Adam Bellow, Doubleday executive editor at large, will be the editor for all the books. Rubin, who rejoiced in being able to offer Bennett "a unified publishing strategy with outlets into the trade, Christian and children's marketplaces," said that internally the deal had been a pleasure to put together. "Everyone was eager to say yes, and there was no arm-twisting," he explained.

Christopher Rice, 21-year-old son of vampire queen Anne Rice and p t Stan Rice, has proved it runs in the family by selling a two-novel package to a publisher that will guarantee he gets talked about. It's Talk Miramax Books, whose Jonathan Burnham snapped up the books from Lynn Nesbit of Janklow &Nesbit (who is also mom's agent). The first, Density of Souls, is a gothic tale about four high-school friends in New Orleans obsessed with a secret murder. Burnham calls it "one of the most original works of fiction I've read, an extraordinary novel by any standards, but as a first novel by a 21-year-old, it's remarkable." It will be on Talk Miramax's first list next May; the second book is yet to be written. Interestingly, the actual negotiation in the deal was done by Miramax senior v-p of acquisitions and business affairs, Andrew Herwitz, and Talk Media v-p and general counsel, Devereux Chatillon. They do things a bit differently at movie-related companies.

It's always gratifying to a publisher when an author returns after trying another house, and that's what Rosemary Mahoney, author of the well-received Whoredom in Kimmage and, more recently, A Likely Story, her account of life with Lillian Hellman, has done at Houghton Mifflin. Executive editor Pat Strachan was the one who brought her back, acquiring The Singular Pilgrim from agent Andrew Wylie. The book is Mahoney's account of a number of pilgrimages she has been on, their impact on her own spiritual self and the significance of the pilgrimage through the ages.


HUSTON: Doing it over in English.

Although she was born in Canada and lived in the U.S. for some years, author Nancy Huston now lives in Paris -- and writes in French -- where her novel Mark of the Angel has been a major bestseller and has just won Elle's Prix de Lectrice fiction prize. When little Steerforth Press in Vermont took her on, buying her book from agent Philip Lief, she didn't have to translate it, she just rewrote it in her native tongue. The novel is a drama about a German woman and a Jewish man thrown together in Paris during the Algerian War years. Steerforth's Chip Fleischer, who is making the book the house's lead fall title and passed out 300 bound galleys at BEA, has also taken a second Huston book, Slow Emergencies, for publication next spring.

Another small publisher, Plough Publishing House, in Farmington, Pa., has walked away with a prize many larger houses might cherish. It has signed Brad and Misty Bernall for a book about their daughter, Cassie, who was killed in the Littleton, Colo., high school massacre after telling the killers she believed in God. Her parents, says Plough's Sam Hine, will tell of their daughter's troubled life and recent redemption. They went to Plough, which will send all profits to a trust fund set up in Cassie's name, because the house's titles had had an influence on her young life.

Presidential hopeful George W. Bush will be the subject of a less-than-respectful tome by bestselling Texas humorist Molly Ivins, to be published next January by Random House's Ann Godoff. Dan Green of POM was the agent.... A first book by a former Washington correspondent for the Boston Globe who is now on a fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations, Elizabeth Neuffer, has been pre-empted for a six-figure sum by Charles Spicer at St. Martin's. It's called Beyond Hatred: The Search for Justice in Bosnia and Rwanda and is a meditation on whether wrongs can ever be righted in the contemporary world. Agent was Michael Carlisle.... Bill Thomas, Doubleday editor-in-chief, has signed a book that he says "could be to Alzheimer's disease what ...And the Band Played On was for AIDS." It's The Forgetting by David Shenk, which describes, in both medical and literary terms, the effect the disease has on the mind and covers attempts to control it. Thomas beat five other houses with a significant six-figure advance to agent Sloan Harris at ICM.... Simon &Schuster, which published Jeffrey Deaver's last novel, will get to keep the author under what his agent, Deborah Schneider of Gelfman Schneider, described as a multimillion-dollar, two-book deal, for North American rights only, with S&S's David Rosenthal.