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John F. Baker -- 6/19/00

Now It's 'The Perfect Fire' | The Plot to Topple FDR
Never Too Young for P try | Short Takes

Now It's 'The Perfect Fire'
At least that's the tentative working title they're giving it at Warner Books, where executive editor Rick Horgan preempted a book based on a cover story with that title in Esquire magazine this month by journalist Sean Flynn.It's the tale of a fire at a Worcester, Mass., warehouse last December that killed six firefighters and seriously injured three more, the worst fire in terms of its human toll in the past decade. Horgan took the book, from agent David Black, for a "very aggressive" six-figure advance, feeling that the magazine article served as a proposal in itself, and therefore there was no need for a formal submission. The warehouse, almost without windows, turned out to be a death trap, and unfounded reports that homeless people were in the building spurred efforts by firefighters to penetrate its warren of lockers, with increasingly disastrous results. Horgan reports keen foreign interest (he has world rights with the exception of the U.K.), and said that Lucy Stille at Paradigm is offering movie rights. Black told PW Horgan got the book because of his intense personal interest (he comes from the area) and because "I know he'll be able to work with Sean to make a terrific book."

The Plot to Topple FDR
The story of a plot by a combination of financial heavies (including J.P.Morgan and Bernard Baruch) and military men to overthrow the nascent Roosevelt administration in 1933, at the height of the Depression, is the subject of a book just won, in a best-bid auction, by editor Chad Conway at the Free Press. One of the authors, Washington insider William R. Corson, has special access because his father, Ray Corson, was one of a handful of her s who found out about the planned coup to set up a Fascist-style government in the U.S., and moved to forestall it; Corson has spent 15 years working to put it all together. His co-author is investigative reporter Joseph Trento, who has worked for 60 Minutes, Nightline and CNN. The agent for the book, who sold North American rights, is Jeff Kleinman at Washington's Graybill & English. A footnote: conspiratorially minded movie director Oliver Stone has already begun working on a script for 20th-Century Fox, which optioned the movie rights. The Free Press plans to publish in 2002.

Never Too Young for P try
A California p t with the enchanting name of Sahara Sunday Spain has just had a p try collection sold for a high five figures; that would be newsy in itself, but the fact that Sahara is eight years old, has a singing voice that ranges three octaves, is a pianist, an artist, a ballerina, and introduced Gloria Steinem at a recent Ms. Awards dinner, all seems like icing on the cake. The sale was made by agent Robert Stricker of the KUL'cha agency in the Bay Area to editor Liz Perle at Harper San Francisco, for publication as an illustrated (by Sahara, of course) hardcover next spring. Sahara, who is the multitalented, multiracial daughter of photographer Elisabeth Sunday and former Black Panther Johnny Spain, has already self-published a couple of p try collections and has had a showing of her acrylics at a San Francisco gallery. Alice Walker will write an introduction to the book, which, Stricker stresses, is not just for kids. The publisher has North American and Canadian rights, and Agnes Krup will be selling foreign.

Short Takes
Greg Michalson
and Fred Ramey have signed another literary novel for their new Blue Hen imprint at Putnam; it's got the working title Minor Occupations, it's by Mylene Dressler, and they bought world rights from agent Paul Chung, with a view to publication next year.... Icebound, the saga by Gay and Lanie Salisbury of an Alaskan relief dog sled team in a medical emergency, which made a big sale to Norton after a hard-fought auction, has been bought for film and TV by Miramax from agent Susan Rabiner, with Richard Gladstein (Cider House Rules) set to direct.... Kate Duffy at Kensington has signed popular romance writer Susan Johnson to a five-book deal, worth in the low seven figures, from agent Mel Berger at William Morris; the first book is due next spring.... Harper's Tim Duggan has just bought, from agent Andrew Wylie, a "very smart" book on contemporary culture called Look and Feel: Value Culture & Conflict in the New Age of Aesthetics by Virginia Postrel, a columnist for the New York Times and Forbes, discussing why appearances are key in the contemporary zeitgeist.... The Race by Tim Zimmerman, an account of a nonstop, round-the-world sailboat race that begins at the end of this year, was bought preemptively by executive editor Eamon Dolan at Houghton Mifflin for a "healthy" six figures from Bonnie Nadell at the Fred Hill agency in San Francisco; the deal was for world rights, plus first serial and unabridged audio......A book by TV comic Steve Harvey hasbeen sold, for world rights, to Anita Diggs at Warner Books by agent Alex Smithline at Scovil, Chichak & Galen. Harvey will include some of his comic routines and talk about his life.
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