Over on BookPage.com we have a web-exclusive feature with Brandon Sanderson, the YA and fantasy author who was hand-picked to complete Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. His long-awaited contribution to the cycle (the first of the final three books), The Gathering Storm, goes on sale today.
Are you a Jordan fan? Don't miss our Q&A with him for book 10, where he predicted the series could be completed in just two more books. (Obviously he was an optimist!) The Wheel of Time is an epic quest/battle series in the tradition of Tolkien. What's your favorite fantasy series? Comment letting us know and you'll be entered to win a copy of The Gathering Storm.
Though she made her name with the historical Slammerkin, Irish-Canadian novelist Emma Donoghue is also known for her contemporary fiction. After last year's historical, The Sealed Letter, Donoghue has plans to publish a ripped-from-the-headlines story with Little, Brown. As she describes it on her site, Room is a "dark contemporary novel in the voice of a five-year-old boy," who happens to have been held captive in a garden shed (with his mother) most of his life. Shades of Jaycee Dugard, but, eerily, Donoghue had been working on the novel for months when Dugard was discovered in the Garridos' backyard.
Don't miss our interview with Donoghue for her 2004 historical, Life Mask.
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?
This week brought news of a new project from Neil Gaiman. After the success of The Graveyard Book and Coraline, he's continuing to write for a younger audience with Instructions. Described as "a charming guide through fairy and folk tales, as well as life" the book will be illustrated by Charles Vess (who worked with Gaiman on the Sandman series) and published by Harper Children's in May 2010.
While there's no news on the content of the book, our guess is it's a picture book adaptation of the poem "Instructions" that Gaiman published in A Wolf at the Door. According to his blog, he's currently in China, working on a project called Journey to the West.
ETA: According to Charles Vess, our guess was right! He kindly pointed me to more detailed information on his blog. Head over to check out the beautiful illustrations and get a peek into Vess' creative process.
2010 is looking like a great year—for fiction, at least. I’ve been busy sorting through the January stacks, trying to decide between big names (Elizabeth Kostova, J.M. Coetzee, Tracy Chevalier and Amy Bloom among them) and outstanding debuts (remember the names Leila Meacham, Ali Shaw, and Matthew Flaming). But it turns out January is just the tip of the great fiction iceberg.
Reader favorites Chris Bohjalian (Midwives), Lori Lansens (The Girls) and Louise Erdrich (The Painted Drum) all have new novels set to publish in February 2010. Bohjalian’s Secrets of Eden is set in contemporary New England and examines a family plagued by domestic violence; Lansens’ The Wife’s Tale follows a middle aged woman around the country as she searches for her missing husband;
Erdrich’s Shadow Tag is being pitched as entirely different from her other novels, “a heart stopping story with the tension and suspense of a psychological thriller, an anatomy of a marriage that leads its characters, as well as the reader, to a stunning and utterly unexpected ending.” I can’t wait to dig into all three—just as soon as I wrap up January.
What 2010 fiction are you most excited about?
The Frankfurt Book Fair took place last week, and it's always a source for major publishing news. One of the early news items has to do with author Ken Follett, whose historical novels and thrillers have been huge hits worldwide.
In a feature in BookPage about his last novel, World Without End, Follett said he wanted to "write another book that gets this kind of enthusiastic reception." We're pretty sure rights being sold in six countries, and a worldwide one-day laydown, counts as enthusiasm!
Fall of Giants will go on sale September 28, 2010, just in time for a planned miniseries based on Pillars of the Earth. (Penguin/Dutton got the U.S. rights.) It is the first of three books planned for the "New Century Trilogy," which will cover most of the 20th century. Fall of Giants follows five families through World War I and the Russian revolution, setting the stage for the next novel, which will cover World War II.
The talented Adriana Trigiani will continue her series starring Valentine Roncalli this February in Brava, Valentine. Her Italian-American heroine, who runs her own custom shoe design boutique in Greenwich Village, is still struggling to balance love, a career and her well-meaning but nosy family.
Read our review of Valentine's first adventure, Very Valentine, which comes out in paperback in January (the pb version will include the first chapter of Brava and "a divine recipe section including Roman Falconi’s savory pizzelles with caviar," according to Trigiani's website.)
We interviewed Trigiani in 2005 for Rococo, her first book featuring a male hero. "This is the thing about families: we know everything about each other. We just don't talk about it," she told us, explaining the theme of many of her books.
This week's mail brought something beautiful to BookPage: a set of Penguin's new clothbound classics. Designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith and previously available only at Waterstone's bookstore in the UK, these new jacketless hardcovers pair early 20th-century styling with classic content.
The eight titles available in the US are Great Expectations, Wuthering Heights, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Cranford, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Jane Eyre and The Picture of Dorian Gray. (Links go to images of each book.) Each retails at $20 and contains a ribbon bookmark. In a nod to their stylish appearance, the books will be sold at Anthropology and Urban Outfitters as well as your local bookstore. More titles—including Madame Bovary and Crime and Punishment—are available in the UK; if the series proves popular here, perhaps they'll make the jump as well.
Bickford-Smith is a senior designer at Penguin UK, and is responsible for some of the more memorable Penguin Classic covers that have appeared over the past few years. In a recent interview, she gave her designer's perspective on the ebook phenomenon:
Electronic books are inevitably going to impact physical publishing, but the printed book is a very successful technology in its own right and I don’t think it will be entirely displaced. For all the advantages of ebooks—portability, interactivity, production and distribution savings—there’s something potent about the physical object that will always have a strong appeal. I like to think that as the volume of physical books declines, the average quality of the design will increase, because books will have to work harder to justify their physical presence.
More about the series can be found on Penguin UK's blog.
This morning brought news of this year's National Book Award nominees. It's an eclectic list that contains a couple of surprises (such as American Salvage). We're rooting for Colum McCann or Jayne Anne Phillips for fiction (fun fact: the same reviewer who wrote about this year's Booker Prize winner, Wolf Hall, for BookPage also covered Lark and Termite—does that mean Jayne Anne's a shoo-in?), and my personal nonfiction pick is the fascinating Fordlandia.
David Small's Stitches seems like the obvious front-runner for Young People's Literature, given its crossover success and starkly powerful images, though we wouldn't rule out Charles and Emma, a moving exploration of the Darwins' marriage. We'll find out whether we're right when the winners are announced on November 18.
Full list of nominees after the jump! Who's your favorite on the list? Is there a book you thought should have made it that didn't?
Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage (Wayne State University Press)
Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin (Random House)
Daniyal Mueenuddin, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (W. W. Norton &
Jayne Anne Phillips, Lark and Termite (Alfred A. Knopf)
Marcel Theroux, Far North (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Judges: Alan Cheuse, Junot Díaz, Jennifer Egan, Charles Johnson, Lydia Millet
David M. Carroll, Following the Water: A Hydromancer's Notebook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Sean B. Carroll, Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search
for the Origins of Species (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Greg Grandin, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt)
Adrienne Mayor, The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy (Princeton University Press)
T. J. Stiles, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Alfred A. Knopf)
YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE
Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith (Henry Holt)
Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
David Small, Stitches (W. W. Norton & Co.)
Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped (HarperTeen/HarperCollins)
Rae Armantrout, Versed (Wesleyan University Press)
Ann Lauterbach, Or to Begin Again (Viking Penguin)
Carl Phillips, Speak Low (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Open Interval (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Keith Waldrop, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (University of California Press)
You can find more information about the awards on the site for the National Book Foundation.
This post about the past weekend's Southern Festival of Books goes back to the very first night, when BookPage reserved a table at the Authors in the Round dinner. We got to the cocktail party a little late but there was plenty of time to catch a glimpse of authors like Kathryn Stockett, Robert Hicks, Jill McCorkle, Michael Sims and even John Carter Cash, who was wearing a dapper seersucker suit.
Our dinner companion was Madison Smartt Bell, who we're pretty sure was happy with his seat between two lovely ladies.
Conversation ranged from his early years in Nashville, to the Bell witch, to the merits of Goucher College, where he is a professor of English. And of course we talked about his forthcoming novel, Devil's Dream, which brings one of the Civil War's most complicated generals, Nathan Bedford Forrest, to life. Bell told us his college-aged daughter helped him finalize the book's structure, which jumps backward and forward through time with each chapter. Watch for more details in a website interview in November.
If you could have dinner with an author, who would it be?