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John Baker -- 6/26/00

Clarks to Combine on Xmas Novel | Back to the Drawing Board
The Multiple-Personality Novelist | Truckin' in Queens | Short Takes

Clarks to Combine on Xmas Novel
Probably the most celebrated--and bestselling--mother-daughter team in the business will combine their talents on a forthcoming book, under a $4-million deal worked out with their respective publishers, Simon & Schuster and Scribner. It will be called Deck the Halls, and will feature both Mary Higgins Clark's cheerful cleaning lady-cum-lottery winner, Alvirah Meehan, and daughter Carol's series heroine, detective Regan Reilly. The deal was worked out by Mary's agent, Eugene Winick at McIntosh & Otis, and S&S's Michael Korda,her longtime editor, and, for Carol, agent Nick Ellison and her new Scribner editor, Roz Lippel. The deal was for world rights, and both writers are already at work, with a view to having a book ready for the coming Christmas season. They have worked together, in terms of reading each other's work, but have not collaborated before. Both of them, incidentally, also have new books coming out next April--Mary's On the Street Where You Live, and Carol's Fleeced.

Back to the Drawing Board
A year ago, Illinois-based agent Joseph DuRepos sent out a book proposal for Left Coast Odyssey by Minnesota writer Kent Nerburn, a kind of road book recounting a spiritual journey across contemporary America. His previous books, including Native American Wisdom, Simple Truths and Small Graces,sold more than 300,000 copies in total for New World Library, and DuRepos had thought of Odyssey as something of a breakout for him. After 24 rejections, however, he decided to heed the advice of John Loudon, executive editor at Harper San Francisco, and ask the author to rework the book entirely, coming at it from a different perspective. Nerburn did so, and when DuRepos resubmitted it, with a change of title to Road Angels, Loudon and his new associate editor Gideon Weil snapped it up, in a "significant" deal for world rights. Another recent DuRepos deal was for a sequel to I Like Being Catholic,by Orbis Books director Michael Leach and his collaborator Therese Borchard, which Doubleday's religious division under Eric Major had preempted as a lead title for this fall. The new book, which DuRepos sold for a "solid" six figures for world rights, is I Like Being Married.(Leach and Borchard are both married, by the way--but not to each other.)

The Multiple-Personality Novelist
Cameron West
made his name with a nonfiction bestseller published a couple of years ago by Hyperion, First Person Plural: My Life as a Multiple. Now he has added the personality of novelist to the couple of dozen with which he started out, and his agent, Laurie Fox at the West Coast office of Linda Chester Associates, has just sold his thriller The Medici Dagger to Mitchell Ivers at Pocket Books--who d sn't often buy fiction, but was taken with both the book and with West's remarkable story of recovery from his disorder. The advance was a "handsome" six-figure one for North American rights after an auction. The book, which is set for publication in fall 2001, concerns a dagger Leonardo da Vinci is said to have forged, using a mysterious alloy lighter and stronger than anything known then or since; it becomes the object of a race in contemporary times to find the artifact and analyze how it was made. West himself is still in treatment, but improving, with the number of his personalities cut drastically, to eight or so.

Truckin' in Queens
A life in the truck refrigeration business in an insalubrious area of Queens, N.Y., d sn't sound like much of a background for a potential novelist. That's what both agent Brian DeFiore and trade publisher Marjorie Braman at HarperCollins feel they've found in Norman Green,however, and the two made a mid-six-figure, two-book deal with him last week for a crime novel, Shooting Doctor Jack,and a follow-up book. DeFiore signed up the author--who describes his writing method as "I look out the window and these are the people I see"--on the basis of a blind query letter. Braman took the floor at the subsequent auction involving several other publishers, and won with it. She purchased world rights, and will probably publish next fall. DeFiore describes his author as "the genuine article, a guy who works in a blue-collar business and has never taken a writing class."

Short Takes
David Shickler
, one of the writers introduced in the New Yorker's summer fiction issue, was preempted for two books, a story collection and novel, by Carla Riccio at Dial Books. It was a six-figure deal, North American rights, done with agent Jennifer Carlson at the Henry Dunow agency.... Gus Lee (China Boy and other novels) is writing his first nonfiction book, a memoir called Chasing Hepburn, for Shaye Areheart at Crown, in a six-figure, world rights deal handled by agent Jane Dystel.... Packager Parachute Publishing, movie company Artisan Entertainment and Bantam Books for Young Readers are joining together to do an original fiction series based on the Blair Witch legend popularized by last year's hit movie; The Blair Witch Files serieswill launch in August with two titles--just before the movie sequel appears.
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