Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Three new historical novel deals

Thought that these might be of interest to readers here...

Bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance, Philippa Gregory's THE WHITE QUEEN, for publication in 2010, followed by THE WHITE PRINCESS, and THE RED QUEEN, covering the War of the Roses period, again to Trish Todd at Touchstone Fireside, and now moving to Suzanne Baboneau at Simon & Schuster UK, by Anthony Mason (world).

BTW, Philippa Gregory discussed The Boleyn Inheritance on Barnes & Noble's online bookclub forums in February. The posts are still online.

Beneath a Marble Sky author John Shors's THE POET MAKERS, set in the South Pacific during WWII after a torpedo sinks a U.S. hospital ship and nine survivors manage to swim to a nearby island threatened by the traitor among them, by hurricanes and by the imminent arrival of the Japanese navy, again to Kara Cesare at NAL, in a good deal, in a two-book deal, by Laura Dail at Laura Dail Literary Agency (World English).

The Last Boleyn and the Elizabeth I mysteries author Karen Harper's WILL'S OTHER WIFE, the story of a Anne Whateley of Stratford, who married Shakespeare in secret less than a week before his shotgun wedding to Anne Hathaway, and who lived with him in London when his career was at its height, to Rachel Kahan at Putnam and Ellen Edwards at NAL, in a good deal, in a pre-empt, by Meg Ruley at Jane Rotrosen Agency (NA).

Monday, April 23, 2007

Galleys to grab at BEA 2007, Part One

I'd been watching the BookExpo America website lately for their autographing schedule, because they usually announce it in April, but didn't spot it until yesterday. It's hidden under Show Info and Features -> Autographing. Just like I did last year, I thought I'd post about the titles I'd planned on getting copies of at the show. Not all of these will be galleys, though. If the pub date is June 2007 or earlier, publishers will be giving away the finished book.

The Publishers Weekly issue that gives a preview of BEA is probably out now, but it hasn't crossed my desk yet. PW lists the high-profile galleys that publishers will be giving away on the show floor (quite literally - you have to grab them off the floor in an embarrassing sort of feeding frenzy) in addition to those available at the autographing sessions.

As I'm attending partly to find out about new historical fiction titles, these are the ones that caught my attention. (I'll also be picking up books and ARCs on behalf of my library, but I don't think you'd be interested in hearing about those.)

In the main autographing area, Friday:

Deanna Raybourn, Silent in the Sanctuary. Second in the Victorian mystery series after Silent in the Grave (read my interview with Deanna here). From MIRA in Jan '08. I fully expect a headless woman cover.
Robert Barr Smith, Blood of the Eagle. "Race to uncover the secret of the murder of Hitler's mistress."
Cynthia Polansky, Far Above Rubies. "Holocaust novel based on true story of courage and survival." I believe this is a re-release.
Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle. "The second volume of epic trilogy about the liberation of Europe in WWII." This is nonfiction, but I know some reviewers who'd love to read it.
Michael White, Soul Catcher. "A tracker, a runaway woman slave and the heart-rending journey home that will change them forever." A copy is going out for review any day now, but I wouldn't mind having my own. September, from Morrow.
Jennifer Donnelly, The Winter Rose. "A sweeping saga of an idealistic young female doctor who tends to the poor of Limehouse." I have the Australian edition already but need a copy to send for review. Out from Hyperion in Jan '08. It's about time. I picked up the galley of The Tea Rose at the first BEA I attended, in 2002. It was very good. Judging by the Australian edition, Winter Rose is quite the epic story (>700pp).

On Saturday:

Pete Hamill, North River. "A love story set against the backdrop of some of New York City's toughest streets." June '07 from Little Brown; my Booklist editor loved this one.
Katie Roiphe, Uncommon Arrangements. "Seven unconventional marriages in England at the beginning of the 20th century." Nonfiction. Bantam July '07.
William Martin, The Lost Constitution. "A thrilling race to find a lost draft of the Constitution!" May from Forge. This publisher has some great books and is very enthusiastic about them. Lots of exclamation points in their descriptions.
Robert Dunn, Meet the Annas. "Musical novel about a '60s girl group: romance, mystery, music." Coral Press, June.
Libba Bray, The Sweet Far Thing. "The final installment in the Gemma Doyle trilogy." A paranormal Victorian series for young adults. Random House Children's, Dec.
Lisa Sandell, Song of the Sparrow. "The tale of fiery, sixteen-year-old Elaine of Ascolat—who will one day be known as 'The Lady of Shalott.'" Scholastic, May. Another YA title.
Mitch Silver, On Secret Service. "This unique debut thriller links Ian Fleming's world of spies in WWII and today's headlines." Simon & Schuster, June.

And on Sunday:

Clare Clark, The Nature of Monsters. "An irresistibly modern sixteen-year-old heroine in London of the 1700s." Harcourt, May. Descriptions I've read make it sound creepy, but I'm curious.
Matt Bronleewe, Illuminated. "A rare-books dealer must unravel a secret that has been hidden in the illuminations of the Gutenberg Bible." Aug from Thomas Nelson, which means it has a Christian emphasis.

And we also have autographing at publishers' booths. For Friday:

Jenny McPhee, A Man of No Moon, Counterpoint. "A lush, cinematic novel set in post-War Italy."
Peter Melman, Landsman, Counterpoint. "A stirring, evocative epic novel of the Civil War." Blogged about this one a while back, and some of the author's students at Hunter College High School turned up to comment.
Anita Amirrezvani, The Blood of Flowers, Little Brown. "Dazzling debut set in 17th-century Persia." Am I greedy for wanting a hardcover when I already have an ARC?


Clare Clark, Nature of Monsters (again), Harcourt. Making note in case I can't make it to Sunday's signing, noted earlier.
Stephen Hunter, The 47th Samurai, S&S. "A shoot-em-up thriller combining the grittiness of 1945 Iowa Jima with the mystique of samurai culture." Yes, it does say "Iowa Jima" on the website. Spell-check gone bad, I think.
Gail Tsukiyama, The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, St. Martin's. "The story of two families in Japan before, during, and after World War II."
Andrea Barrett, The Air We Breathe, Norton. "An exquisite new novel set during WWI by the National Book Award winner for Ship Fever."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A great makeover

Different title, different name on the cover. But they're the same book. Which do you prefer, the 1979 or the 2006 version?

For a synopsis, see Amazon. (Yes, I own copies of both.)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Monday deals

I don't think I've posted any historical novel deals in a while, so here are some from today's Publisher's Lunch.

Barbara Pope's CEZANNE'S QUARRY, a historical thriller that explores the cultural conflicts in provincial France through the murder of Solange, a young woman who has been graphically depicted in several of Cezanne's paintings, to Jessica Case at Pegasus, by Mollie Glick at Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency (NA).

Rose Melikan's THE BLACKSTONE KEY, set in 18th century England, in which a penniless, clever teacher is summoned to meet her rich, estranged uncle and becomes embroiled in a plot involving spies, smugglers, a pair of identical watches, puzzles, codes, an inheritance, and very real danger, to Trish Todd at Touchstone Fireside, in a good deal, in a three-book deal, by Clare Alexander at Gillon Aitken Associates (NA).

Historian C. W. Gortner's THE LAST QUEEN: The Story of Juana La Loca, based on the life of the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit the throne, to Susanna Porter for Ballantine, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in June 2008, by Jennifer Weltz at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency (world English).
[congrats, Christopher!]

Teacher of classical history at Lincoln College, Oxford Harry Sidebottom's FIRE IN THE EAST, KINGS OF KINGS and LION OF THE SUN, a trilogy of adventure novels of ancient Rome pitched as in the tradition of Mary Renault and Patrick O'Brian, featuring espionage, treachery and desperate, last-gasp, bloody warfare, and centering around a soldier who has risen to be a Roman General despite his northern barbarian origins, sent to the Eastern edge of the Empire to defend against the looming Persian threat, to Alex Clarke at Michael Joseph, in a significant deal, for publication in summer 2008, by James Gill at PFD.

Darren Craske's THE EQUIVOQUE PRINCIPLE, a dark Victorian fantasy about a man and his traveling circus who get embroiled in a series of grisly murders on the streets of London, the first in a trilogy, discovered online when the author posted the opening chapters on the writers' community forum, to Scott Pack at The Friday Project (world).

German and Spanish rights to Janet Paisley's WHITE ROSE REBEL, to Rowohlt and Espasa-Calpe, respectively, by Jessica Jefferys at Penguin UK.[Check out the forthcoming UK edition, too, and it's about Jacobites, not Yorkists... the subject is Anne Farqharson, a chieftain who led her clan into battle at Culloden.]

Friday, April 13, 2007

Read my book online for free

I'm too swamped to post anything of greater literary significance now (not that my book's insignificant, but you know what I mean). As an FYI, my publisher's offering free access to their Reader's Advisor Online database during National Library Week. Just follow this link, click on The Reader's Advisor Online, and choose "Historical Fiction" from the right-hand menu. Use the little arrows to choose the subgenre/subtopic you're interested in, and click Search to see related titles/annotations from the first edition of my book. The section intros are a little harder to find, but most of the text of my book's in here, somewhere.

The Daily Life through History database may be of interest, too. Free access lasts through April 22nd. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Adventures in medieval castle building

Reay Tannahill, Having the Builders In. London: Headline Review, 2006. £17.99, ISBN 978-0755333042. 279pp.

I've decided to stop grousing about my pile of review books because, in all honesty, so far in 2007 the novels I've been asked to read have been much more enjoyable than ones I've picked up on my own. This novel, an example of the latter, was an exception.

If you're familiar with Reay Tannahill's serious biographical fiction (The Seventh Son, Fatal Majesty) or her sweeping romantic sagas (A Dark and Distant Shore, In Still and Stormy Waters, etc.), then prepare to be surprised. Having the Builders In is a lighthearted, witty account of one medieval family's personal experience with home renovation. Tannahill goes out of her way to make comparisons between the late 14th century and today plainly obvious, but the novel is no less amusing for it. As anyone who's ever arranged for an addition to their house knows, the process can be stressful. You have builders entering your home, disrupting your regular schedule, and creating a racket at ungodly hours. Not to mention the interminable delays, which make you regret that you're paying the workers by the hour; disputes between management and subcontractors; and fears that you may have underestimated the budget.

Dame Constance de Clair, the 39-year-old owner - in her son's name, of course - of Vine Regis, a castle in England's West Country at the end of Edward III's reign, has all these problems and more. With her husband dead and her son, Lord Gervase, content to let her do as she wishes, she craftily sees a way to add an extension to her property. She agrees to give money to the local church to endow a chapel (to house yet another holy relic) if Abbot Ralph lets her use stone from the abbey quarries in her home construction. Then Lady Susanna, her son's naïve, pretty 15-year-old betrothed, arrives on the scene, pouting at not being greeted more warmly at her new home. Lord Gervase, not exactly an attentive fiance anyway, heads to London to pay homage to the new boy king, Richard II -- leaving Constance to deal with Susanna and her penchant for embarrassing social blunders. The family's valuables are disappearing, and they wonder if the builders are to blame. The master mason in charge of the renovation continually argues with the castle steward about proper construction methods. And then there are the accidents. Is someone trying to sabotage the project?

All of the characters are delightful, from the overly eager-to-please Susanna (from whose viewpoint, for the most part, we see the story unfold) to secondary ones like Hamish MacLeod, the Scotsman taken prisoner by Constance's late husband many years before, but who liked Vine Regis so much he decided to remain on staff. It's hard not to feel for Susanna, having to deal with a future mother-in-law who thinks she's always right (and usually is) as well as Gervase's two young daughters, one of whom is a real brat. Susanna wishes to be treated like the future Lady of the Castle, and you can almost understand why she slyly hints to Abbot Ralph that Constance might be wanting to found a nunnery sometime soon (which isn't true at all, but it makes for a very funny scene). Meanwhile, readers will get a real education in medieval castle building, and it's a fairly sophisticated process.

This isn't a long novel, but it's a fast-paced, lively read with a pleasantly unexpected ending. Give this a try if you've been reading serious historicals for a while and are in the mood for something different.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Another mystery solved

Fresh upon the revelation of the true killer of the princes in the tower, we have just learned about another exciting news development.

Readers have long been pondering the "headless woman" trend in historical fiction cover art. "I appreciate how publishers are attempting to accurately reflect the customs of the time by showing us women's fancy gowns and stuff," said one informed reader, who preferred to remain anonymous, "but what I really want to know is, where do all the extra heads go?"

As it happens, this issue has greatly concerned publishers as well. When asked, a representative from HarperCollins, who began the trend with their striking cover of Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl in 2001, admitted: "Honestly, it is a big problem. We never knew it would come to this... and now we have all these spare heads sitting in boxes around the office. Our graphic artists have no use for them. Not to be too graphic - sorry - but they're starting to go bad."

Fortunately, a coalition of publishers have banded together to solve the problem. "As environmentally conscious individuals, we believe in conservation whenever possible," said a spokesman for Carroll & Graf, publisher of Hunger's Brides, the mammoth novel about the 17th century Mexican nun, Sor Juana de la Cruz. Additional American publishers have responded to the call. Due to their diligence, the "disembodied head" look is set to become a brand new trend.

Plans are in motion, for example, to reuse Mary Boleyn's missing head from The Other Boleyn Girl on the jacket art of Before the Sword Strikes, a breakout work of fiction about her sister, Henry VIII's tragic second wife. This epic stream-of-consciousness novel promises to reveal Anne's innermost thoughts during her final moments. "Much has been written about Anne Boleyn's life, but hardly anyone about her death," said the publisher. "And we know that readers want to know all they possibly can about her."

Still, despite the cautious optimism in the publishing arena, some issues linger. "Recycling issues aside, I don't see that anyone will ever have use for the missing eyes and forehead from our cover of Jane Harris's The Observations," a representative from Viking said. "We preferred to use a completely intact head for our cover of Margaret George's Helen of Troy instead."

Any freelance artists or enterprising readers who might wish to use these spare body parts (or pieces thereof) for their own designs, or even for collages or scrapbooking, should contact the Coalition for Reusable Cover Art through the owner of this blog.