King & Straub Back Together

In 1984, horror maestros Stephen King and Peter Straub collaborated on a book called The Talisman. Now they have agreed to repeat the act for a sequel for the combination of Random House (hardcover) and Ballantine (paperback), whose Ann Godoff and Gina Centrello, respectively, signed with agent Ralph Vicinanza. The original was a fantasy about a boy on a quest for a talisman that would save his mother's life, but Straub said the sequel, which will show him as a grown man, would probably be darker and contain horror elements. The new book, untitled so far, will be edited by Lee Boudreaux, the editor of Straub's next collection of stories, Magic Terror, due from Random next year.

A Nazi at Los Alamos

Neil Nyren at Putnam has just bought a WWII spy thriller that he regards as "just about the most exciting I've read since Eye of the Needle" -- and he should know, since he edited that famous thriller for Don Fine many years ago. It's called A Gathering of Spies, and Nyren preempted world rights with a hefty bid to agent Richard Curtis. The author is 30-something freelance writer John Altman, and this is his first novel, though Nyren told PW he understands there are others in the author™s bottom drawer. The villain, and chief character, is a woman spy trying to smuggle the secrets of Los Alamos back to the Nazis in the closing months of the war, and perhaps reverse the tide. Putnam plans to publish late next summer.

Buddha by the Book

The prophet is becoming an increasingly hot subject of late, and a new book by a Buddhist lay priest that brings his teachings together with aspects of Western psychology has just been bought for a substantial six figures by Toni Burbank at Bantam after a brief auction between two houses that both wanted to preempt (the other was Viking). The author is Tara Brach, a Washington mental health professional who is also a teacher of Buddhist mindfulness and leads meditation classes. Her book will be called In the Shadow of the Buddha: Awakening the Love That Heals Fear and Shame; it was sold by the Anne Edelstein agency.

The Man in the Woods

Eustace Conway went to live alone, in a teepee, in the woods of North Carolina as a teenager more than 20 years ago. Magazine writer Elizabeth Gilbert met him there three years ago and wrote an article about him for GQ that was widely read. Now she has turned the article into a book that meditates on contemporary humanity and the need for wilderness and independence of civilization, called The Last American Man. Viking Penguin's Paul Slovak preempted it, among fierce competition, for hard/soft North American rights; the agent was Sarah Chalfant at the Wylie Agency. Gilbert, incidentally, published a book of stories, Pilgrims, with Houghton Mifflin two years ago.

A Trainer for All Reasons

Not many people can train with equal ease as an Olympic diver and an orchestral musician, but Don Greene is uniquely qualified to do just that, and he has done so with great success for years. The former Green Beret shows his students, ranging from athletes to musicians at New York's Juilliard School of Music, where he currently teaches, how to focus and "center" their skills. Now he's putting his methods into a book tentatively titled Performance Success, which Suzanne Oaks at Broadway Books just preempted for North American rights. Greene will write the book himself, in time for the early-2000 planned publication. The agent was Alex Smithline at Scovil, Chichak & Galen.

Sosa Slugging for Warner

Sammy Sosa, the Chicago Cubs home run king who recently battled it out with Mark McGwire for the record number of homers in a season, is to write his autobiography for Warner Books, where veteran sports editor Rick Wolff will wield the editorial pencil. The deal for his book was signed by Time Warner trade publishing head Larry Kirshbaum, working with the slugger's manager, Domingo Dauhajre, Lou Weisbach of the Cubs' HA-LO Industries and the William Morris agency. Sosa will tell his story in both English- and Spanish-language editions, for his many Hispanic fans. He will write about his childhood growing up in poverty in the Dominican Republic as well as his early frustrations in trying to gain a foothold in major league ball and his eventual achievement of his potential. The book is scheduled in time for next season.

Short Takes

A book about a dad coaching his son in Little League ball, called Joy in Mudville by Greg Mitchell, was sold to Pocket Books' Paul Schnee not long ago. Now agent Sarah Lazin tells us it has just been optioned for a substantial sum by Universal as a movie for Tom Hanks, though whether he will star as well as produce is not known. Brian Siberell at CAA helped broker the deal. Incidentally, it was also Lazin who represented hip-hop idol Russell Simmons in the sale of his memoir to Crown recently (Hot Deals, Sept. 27)¦. That French novel about a man who finds a beautiful woman only he can see, Marc Levy's If Only It Were True, reported here as having made a huge movie deal, has now also made a big book sale: seven figures from Pocket's Judith Curr (with editor Greer Kessel-Hendricks) to Laffont-Fixot in Paris, via rights director Susanna Lee.