This morning brought a story of yet another big deal from the Frankfurt Book Fair. Australian mother and small business owner Rebecca James has sold world rights to her first two young adult novels for major bucks, going from mom to millionaire overnight after her manuscript was pulled out of the slush pile by a U.K. agent. The rights to Beautiful Malice and its sequel got $600,000 in the U.S. alone, according to the Wall Street Journal, who calls James the next J.K. Rowling (because of her success story, not the subject matter of her books, which are described as "sexy, psychological thrillers" for teens). Since the days of big advances for the heck of it (or for the publicity) seem to have disappeared with the recession, this signals that Bantam Dell expects a Rowling-sized payout once the books are published. On her blog, the 39-year-old mother of four says she's "mega chuffed" to be published (gotta love the Australian vernacular!) and shares pictures of her sons and two adorable puppies.
But what's the book about? It's the story of the friendship of two girls. One has lost her sister in a horrible murder. The other is a chilling and charming party girl. The series has been described as Twilight without the vampires and with the sex.
According to the WSJ, Kate Miciak, editorial director of Bantam Books, who won U.S. rights, said, "You had only to read the opening sentence -- 'I did not go to Alice's funeral' -- to know that you had instantly fallen under the thrall of a strong narrative voice, which was going to hold you in its grip and keep you there." No firm pub date has been set (we hear the book could appear as early as May 2010), but we'll keep an eye out for more news on this YA thriller.
12.02, ETA: Looks like Bantam now has Beautiful Creatures scheduled for a September 2010 publication. (via)
Everyone's been buzzing about The Last Song, a book/film project Nicholas Sparks cooked up for teen singing sensation Miley Cyrus. But that's not the only upcoming film sparked (I can't resist) by the writer's work. Before Last Song's premiere in April, fans will be able to spend Valentine's Day watching Dear John, a movie starring Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum. (Read our interview with Sparks about Dear John here.)
Sparks' page-to-screen record has been uneven, veering from home runs like The Notebook to big misses like last year's Nights in Rodanthe. According to Sparks, the book Dear John was inspired by the film Casablanca. Lasse Hallstrom at the helm is promising, but somehow I just don't see Seyfried and Tatum as Bacall and Bogart—but judge for yourself in the trailer below.
As for the Miley movie—so far, that trailer has only been shown at her concerts. After the jump, the fearless among you can see a YouTube video of the trailer, taken at a concert. The jumbotron is blurry and sometimes the squealing fans drown out the dialogue, but it's enough to get the idea.
Sparks is also making waves in the book blogosphere: Trish from Hey Lady! has challenged Rebecca of The Book Lady's Blog to give him a try during this weekend's Read-a-Thon. Rebecca will be tweeting her impressions of Sparks' work under the hashtag #IHeartTheSpark on Saturday, if you want to keep up with her reactions. Are you a Sparks fan? What's your favorite book or film?
Last night I went to a book release event for a new book about America's relationship with energy—a subject near to my heart after spending the last few (unseasonably cold) weeks without heat in my apartment. The book is Power Trip: From Oil Wells to Solar Cells—Our Ride to the Renewable Future, by Amanda Little, a journalist who's been covering energy and the environment for over 10 years. In the book, Little sets out to learn about the history of energy in America and the way it affects every aspect of our lives.
Little read from a few different sections in the book, took questions from the audience, and told several stories about her adventures in writing the book. At one point she found herself on an oil rig in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, being dared to go up to the crown—the highest point on the rig, about 270 feet in the air. The elevator ride to the crown took several agonizingly slow minutes, and when she asked about rescue procedures in case of elevator failure, she was told that she'd have to shimmy down the rig!
Little concluded the evening by talking about the future of energy in America, remarking that she had been amazed by the ingenuity she had witnessed everywhere from that oil rig in the Gulf to a newly constructed house in New Orleans that was built to be essentially a house-sized thermos, keeping in heat or cool air as needed. With the skills and creative minds currently working both within and outside of the energy industry in America, Little believes the future is bright. (And as for me, well, it's much easier to be optimistic now that I have heat at home!)
We’ve posted about bloggers getting book deals in the past, and that trend certainly seems here to stay. The latest: On April 27, 2010, Alan Beard and Alec McNayr's site Historical Tweets will be published as a book by Villard.
A couple weeks ago Trisha posted a handy list of tweeters in the book world. Well, this site’s premise is that Twitter has always existed, and historical figures have been communicating to each other in 140 characters or less since the beginning of time. (The most popular post on the site: “anyone got a more creative way of saying ‘87 years?’” HonestAbe on Nov. 18, 1863.)
Is there anyone out there whom you’d like to see with a Twitter account? Do you keep up with any of your favorite authors on Twitter?
On Nov. 10, Kanye West’s graphic memoir Through the Wire will hit shelves. Billed as “a one-of-a-kind book that initially grabs you and stays with you forever,” West’s book
illustrates the lyrics of twelve Kanye West songs to tell his story, from his decision to drop out of college to pursue his dreams in music, through his days spent folding chinos at the Gap while struggling at night to make a name as a producer, through the pivotal car accident that eventually set him on the course to stardom. . .
A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (Josh Neufeld’s nonfiction graphic book about Katrina) was riveting – “a fully emotional, multi-dimensional experience,” as I wrote on The Book Case a couple months ago. Both the graphics and the text were powerful illustrations of the experiences of seven New Orleans residents during the hurricane. Honestly, I couldn’t put the book down. And I don’t think the story would have held my attention as closely had it not been illustrated.
I’m skeptical that a book of illustrated lyrics will hold the same power, although I’ll reserve judgment until I see the memoir in person. (Perhaps I’ve been negatively swayed because West has admitted that he doesn’t read books – just writes them.) I think the best graphic novels – like A.D. – are deliberate and restrained with their text, which is supported by stunning visuals. I’m curious to see how lyrics (presumably written without illustrations in mind) will translate in this medium.
For more on graphic memoirs, read Becky Ohlson's fascinating interview with David Small, whose illustrations in Stitches are "both roomy and precise, with lots of open space in and around the panels but an intensity of focus."
And for readers: What do you think makes a successful graphic novel? Are there any subjects you’d like to see depicted in this form? Are any West fans looking forward to Through the Wire?
I am envious of New Yorkers after reading of Steve Wolfe’s exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art: Steve Wolfe on Paper. Through Nov. 29, thirty paintings and drawings of books, album covers and records will be on view.
On the surface, the concept may not sound very interesting. But just look at the images below, from Steve Wolfe’s website:
Wolfe works in the trompe l’oeil style, and his creations appear to be real, 3D books. The exhibit copy from the Whitney states that
Wolfe's objects are, in real life, ones that must be used and physically manipulated in some detailed way—books have every page turned, records every groove worn. . . Thus the tears, creases, and basic wear points to human contact. . .
New York Times art critic Ken Johnson wrote that
the painter and sculptor Steve Wolfe has taken his bibliophilia to unrivaled extremes. . . you sense in his art a kind of monkish devotion that turns feats of technique into icons of a deeply personal religion.
Anyone in NYC plan on seeing the exhibit?
As all of us know, there are two kinds of people: dog people and cat people. I see the divide every day, both at my office (Trisha: cat person / Abby: dog person) and at home (husband: cat person / me: dog person). Sometimes the two sides are nasty toward one another (woof, hiss), sometimes they co-exist uneasily.
Bradley Trevor Greive attempts to wrestle cat people into submission with his gracefully argued and beautifully illustrated new book, Why Dogs Are Better Than Cats, published today by Andrews McMeel. Dog people: we love this book title, don't we? Why beat around the bush when the point you are trying to make is crystal clear: dogs are better than cats, and Greive (author of the bestseller The Blue Day Book) proves it repeatedly.
Here's a sample:
To dogs, you are the leader of the pack, their savior and guiding light. You are the beautiful, warm, nurturing star around which their world revolves, the emotional center of their universe.
To cats, a human being is basically a vertical speed bump, a fabric-wrapped monolith, or a fleshy tree simulator.
Two paws-up for Why Dogs Are Better Than Cats -- sure to be a favorite gift for dog-lovers this holiday season. To win a free copy, leave a comment and tell us which side you're on!
UPDATE: We've selected a winner, but you're still welcome to take sides in the cats-vs-dogs debate.
From the what's-the-world-coming-to-department comes news that Simon & Schuster has signed a deal for a series of three books based on an iPhone app. Is this a first? I think so (but I could be wrong -- leave a comment if you know of other iPhone apps that have spawned book deals).
The iPhone app store describes Soul Trapper as "a supernatural tale that unfolds over 23 chapters, each ranging from 5 to 15 minutes in length." Buyers are promised that this "richly-produced audio drama" is "seamlessly interwoven with interactivity, navigation, and audio puzzles." Players follow 27-year-old drifter Kane Pryce, who owns a mysterious device (the Soul Trap) that lets him capture ghosts and exile them from Earth.
To see what all the fuss was about, I attempted to download Soul Trapper on my iPhone, but I got an annoying message indicating that the app was too large for obtaining by phone and should be downloaded through a computer instead. So I'll probably never know whether the app lives up to its billing as "triple-A entertainment" in the "audio spectrum" (hmmm).
Soul Trapper was created by F.J. Lennon, whom, we were heartened to learn, has previously written at least one book, a 2001 title from HarperBusiness called Every Mistake in the Book: A Business How-NOT-To -- apparently a lively account of his computer game business that flopped. Maybe Lennon's next business title will advise readers on how to turn iPhone games into publishing gold.
As many of you already know, this Saturday is Dewey’s Read-a-thon. Starting at 7 a.m. CST (that means 2 a.m. if you live in Hawaii – yikes!), hundreds of readers will be devouring books and blogging for 24 hours straight. The event was founded in October 2007 by Dewey from book blog The Hidden Side of a Leaf. Dewey passed away in 2008, but her event continues to gather many followers under the leadership of bloggers Hannah, Trish and Ana.
Trisha and I are both hosting out-of-town guests this weekend, so – alas – we can’t commit to reading for 24 hours straight. We are, however, pleased to announce The Book Case’s first-ever Read-a-thon Mini-Challenge!
This Saturday, Oct. 24, visit The Book Case from 6-10 p.m. CST. We will post a book-themed question and spiffy prize (hint: Good design crosses the pond: Penguin Classics). For four hours, Read-a-thon participants can take a break from their reading to post answers in our comments section. We’ll choose a commenter at random for our winner, and, voilà!. . . one lucky reader will receive brand-new books.
Book blogs will be hosting mini-challenges throughout all of Saturday, so check the Read-a-thon blog frequently for an update on where challenges are hosted at specific times.
For Read-a-thon participants: What’s in your Read-a-thon stack of books?
If you don’t usually spend a portion of your day blogging, journaling, creating stories – or otherwise putting words on paper (or screen) – then today is a great day to start. A couple weeks ago, the U.S. Senate declared Oct. 20, 2009, as the National Day on Writing. The official Resolution is quite long, but it’s worth it to give it a read. I was pleased to see the Senate embrace digital media in their document:
Whereas the National Day on Writing honors the use of the full range of media for composing, from traditional tools like print, audio, and video, to Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, and podcasts
One of the best ways to get involved in the day’s festivities is to post to the National Gallery of Writing, a website where anybody can post writing that is “important to them. . . from letters to lists, memoirs to memos.” The Gallery was unveiled today, and it looks like there has already been wide participation. So far there are 21 records from the state of Tennessee alone.
How will you celebrate the National Day on Writing?
I’d like to give a shout out to my 11th grade English teacher for giving me a copy of William Zinsser’s On Writing Well. (“Look for the clutter in your writing and prune it ruthlessly… Simplify, simplify.”) And perhaps I’ll celebrate, also, by reading other people's great writing. I would love to dig into a novel I haven’t yet found the time to start (A Gate at the Stairs? Her Fearful Symmetry?).