Press Release: Deals Done
Penguin Reveals Some Stellar Acquisitions Ahead Of London Book Fair
Posted at 10:41AM Friday 12 Apr 2013
Penguin editors have been busy signing some fantastic new titles in the lead up to this year's London Book Fair.
At Michael Joseph, Editorial Director Daniel Bunyard has acquired rights to the first official book to accompany the Bafta Award-winning television series, Mrs. Brown's Boys. The show, which was the first and second most watched TV programme during the Christmas season, has been a phenomenal ratings success; DVD sales of the series have topped the comedy charts and have now sold in excess of 3 million copies. Bunyard bought World rights in a multi-book deal directly from Brendan O'Carroll. Bunyard said: "It's a dream come true to work with Brendan O'Carroll. He is a creative genius, and it will be a privilege for us to offer a home to him as an author. Mrs. Brown's Boys reaches an enormous audience of passionate and devoted fans - it will be an exciting challenge to develop books for them that carry the same fun and warmth as the show." Brendan O'Carroll said: "Following the success of the original Agnes Browne trilogy with Penguin in the US, Australia and around the world, it's only right that Mrs. Brown remains with Penguin as her home." When asked, Mrs. Brown said: "I'm delighted to be doing this. I'm mad into books meself. In fact I've two at home that aren't even coloured in yet." Michael Joseph plan to publish an illustrated hardback entitled Mrs. Brown's Family Handbook later this Autumn, offering Mrs. Brown's comical guide to running a household and featuring a wealth of other characters from the show.
Michael Joseph Publishing Director Alex Clarke has acquired the rights to an autobiography from superstar Scottish comedian, and house-hold name, Kevin Bridges. Bridges first appeared on the comedy scene in 2004 at the age of 17, performing at The Stand Comedy Club in Glasgow. He has since performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, on Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow and recently sold out a nationwide comedy tour. His two DVDs Kevin Bridges: The Story So Far... Live in Glasgow and Kevin Bridges: The Story Continues... have been huge best-sellers, selling 370k and 260k copies, respectively. He has had his own BBC TV series, Kevin Bridges – What's The Story? for which he was nominated for two Scottish BAFTAs.
Michael Joseph will publish Kevin's autobiography in the Autumn of 2014. The deal was struck between Penguin and Kevin Bridges's agent, Addison Cresswell, at Off the Kerb.
Kevin Bridges said of his new venture: "I'm delighted to have been asked by the good people at Penguin (The Penguins) to write my autobiography; at 26 years old I think it's long overdue. I'm taking a year out of Stand Up and looking forward to reflecting on my life and career, on the characters, the good guys, the bad guys, the highs and the lows, the bronze swimming certificates. I'll also try and throw in some erotic fan fiction to keep with the current demands of the literary market. Whatever it will be I hope you'll enjoy reading about my short time in this World."
Alex Clarke, Publishing Director at Penguin, said of the acquisition: "We absolutely thrilled to be publishing Kevin's book – he's an extraordinary talent in the comedy world, a wise head on young
shoulders, with an incredible comic style and delivery. Without doubt Kevin's book will be an absolute tour de force – we can't wait."
Daniel Bunyard has also acquired the memoirs of the band that are widely tipped to be the next big thing in the charts – Union J - months before the X Factor boyband sensations' first single is even released. The band, who astonishingly already have 900,000 followers on Twitter, are expected to release their first single in June 2013 through RCA Records, under Crown Talent and Media Group, with an album following later in the year. Bunyard acquired World rights from Liz Shaylor and Mark Brittain of Syco Entertainment Ltd, following a hotly-contested auction, along with rights to publish their first official children's annual, to be published by Puffin.
Bunyard said of the acquisition: "I'm over the moon to be working with Union J on their first book. They have huge talent, a great chemistry together and a genuine passion towards what they're doing. This will be a massive title for later this year, packed full of exclusive, beautifully-shot photography."
For their part, Union J said: " We are very excited to be working with Penguin on our first book and are looking forward to the chance tell our stories, of how we came together and where we came from, as well as the journey we've taken since X Factor."
Michael Joseph plans to publish in Autumn 2013 and is working with Union J to promote the book and stage some of the biggest book signings of the year.
Finally, Mari Evans, Fiction Publisher at Michael Joseph, has bought World English Language rights in the novel Beautiful Day by Kate Anthony. Rights were bought from Georgia Garrett at Rogers, Coleridge & White and Beautiful Day is currently scheduled for publication in early 2014 as a Penguin paperback original.
The novel follows Rachel - happily married, or so she thought ... until her husband moves out to be with his lover. Left with three confused children and an almighty overdraft, Rachel takes a job in a care home and crosses paths with Philip, whose mother kept him housebound for 39 years and then went and died on him. Philip is left a soul adrift in the world – in need of a protector. In need of Rachel. Until she discovers that she relishes caring for this unlikely hero more than she could have imagined. Perhaps she needs Philip too. Beautiful Day is an entertaining and unexpectedly heart-warming exploration of the messy, muddy territory of those broken by life – and what it takes to fix them.
Evans says of the acquisition: "Beautiful Day is extraordinary – it's funny and wise, heartbreaking and sad, and ultimately leaves you basking in the golden glow of its warmth. Kate's writing has a delightful deftness of touch and I'm looking forward to sharing this magical, life-affirming novel with as many people as possible!'"
Kate Anthony says: "I am delighted and excited by the faith that Mari Evans and Michael Joseph have put into Beautiful Day. It is gratifying to have not only a first novel but one populated by such an uncommon band of characters, championed by their hugely experienced and supportive team."
At Viking, Editorial Director Mary Mount has bought UK and Translation rights, excluding India, in Beggar's Feast, the second novel from author Randy Boyagoda, whose previous works have featured in The New York Times and Harpers. Mount acquired rights from Penguin Canada. Beggar's Feast is set in Sri Lanka over a hundred years, and follows the turbulent life of Sam Kandy, a man who is abandoned on the steps of a temple as a boy. He subsequently escapes to
Australia and forges a life for himself that takes him from the dockyards of Sri Lanka to the brothels of Singapore.
Born to Sri Lankan parents, Boyagoda lives with his wife and three daughters in Toronto. Beggar's Feast will be published in January 2014.
Mount has also bought rights to a fantastic new novel from Mumbai-based debut author Jerry Pinto called Em and the Big Hoom. World rights, excluding India, were bought directly from the author. Set in Bombay during the last decades of the twentieth century, Em and The Big Hoom tells the compelling story of the Mendeses: mother, father, daughter and son. It is the poignant story of the marriage between Em, the beedi-smoking, hyperactive mother, in and out of hospital due to her frequent failed suicide attempts, and The Big Hoom, the rock-solid, dependable father, trying to hold things together as best he can. This is a portrait of a mad, heartwarming and hilarious family trying to make sense of life, together, and it will publish in May 2014.
Viking's Publishing Director Venetia Butterfield has acquired rights to the heart-wrenching debut novel The Separation by Dinah Jefferies. Butterfield bought World rights, excluding France and Germany, from Caroline Hardman of Hardman and Swainson. The novel is set in 1950s Malaya and post-war England and told from the viewpoints of Lydia and her daughter Emma. Lydia's husband flees Malay with his children, leaving his wife to believe they've perished in a fire. Lydia finally discovers the full extent of her husband's devastating betrayal as Emma embarks on a search for answers.
Dinah Jefferies was born in Malaya in 1948 and moved to England at the age of nine. She has worked in education, once lived in a 'rock 'n roll' commune and has, more recently, been an exhibiting artist. The Separation is her first book. It will be published, initially as an export edition, in May 2013, with the paperback coming out in June 2014.
Editorial Director Eleo Gordon has bought World rights, directly from the author, to the autobiographical Warsaw Boy by Andrew Borowiec. In the autumn of 1944 Andrew Borowiec, wearing two left shoes and a satin edged dinner suit, limped into a German prisoner-of-war camp and was immediately treated by a captured British army doctor for the grenade shrapnel wounds he had received some three weeks before. In the seven months he spent as a prisoner before the Americans liberated him, the young soldier began to make notes. Years later these notes have become the basis for a gripping account of a childhood in wartime Poland.
Andrew Borowiec was born at Lodz in Poland on 24 September 1928. At fifteen he joined the Home Army, the main Polish resistance during the Second World War, and fought in the ill-fated Warsaw Uprising. After the war he went on to attend Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, became a US citizen, and later covered many trouble spots, including Vietnam, the Congo and Lebanon. He now lives in Nicosia with his English wife Juliet. Viking will publish Warsaw Boy in April 2014.
Gordon has acquired another fascinating non-fiction title called Out of the Ashes by author Keith Lowe, all about how the world changed immediately after the Second World War. In describing the combined political, economic, social and ideological turmoil of the postwar years, it tells not only the story of grand events, but also of how ordinary people coped, how they dreamed and worked to make a better life for their children, and how their generation turned one of the greatest catastrophes in history into an opportunity for change. Gordon bought World rights with Translation, excluding US and Canada, from Simon Trewin at WME.
Keith Lowe is widely recognized as an authority on the Second World War, and has often spoken on TV and radio, both in Britain and the United States. He is the author of two previous books, Savage Continent and Inferno: The Devastation of Hamburg, 1943. He lives in north London with his wife and two children. Out of the Ashes is scheduled for publication in April 2014.
At Hamish Hamilton, Simon Prosser has bought British and Commonwealth volume rights in the next novel by Man Booker 2012 shortlisted author Deborah Levy, Hot Milk, for publication in early 2015. Hamish Hamilton and Penguin will also reissue Deborah Levy's first three novels, from the late 1980s and early '90s: Swallowing Geography; Beautiful Mutants and The Unloved; and publish a paperback and eBook edition of the author's forthcoming hardback essay Things I Don't Want to Know, due out this summer from Notting Hill Editions. Prosser acquired rights from Victoria Hobbs at A.M. Heath.
Prosser has also bought British and Commonwealth volume rights in the new book by Man Booker International 2013 shortlisted writer Lydia Davis, Can't and Won't, from agent Judith Murray on behalf of Denise Shannon. Hamish Hamilton will publish alongside FSG (in the US) in Spring 2014, following up on the author's widely-acclaimed Collected Stories from 2009.
Finally, Prosser has bought British and Commonwealth volume rights in a new book entitled Landmarks, about language and landscape, from the bestselling author of The Old Ways, Robert Macfarlane (this year's Man Booker Prize Chair, and fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge). Publishing in Spring 2015, this will precede Robert Macfarlane's long-term exploration of the hidden worlds beneath our feet, Underland, which will follow in 2017. Prosser bought rights from Jessica Woollard at the Marsh Agency.
At Allen Lane, Editorial Director Tom Penn has acquired world rights to a book by Shami Chakrabarti, director of campaigning organization Liberty. Drawing substantially on her own role at Liberty, Chakrabarti will explore the nature of civil liberties and human rights, and the importance of upholding these liberties in the face of unprecedented challenges made to them. Allen Lane will publish this title in Autumn 2014.
Penn has also acquired a title by Stephen Emmott, head of Microsoft's Computational Science Laboratory in Cambridge, called Ten Billion. A devastating and shocking vision of the impact we are having on our world, Ten Billion is a book about our future: our failure to tackle an unprecedented planetary emergency and a cry for radical collective action - action which Emmott believes is deeply unlikely to happen. Penn bought UK and Commonwealth rights from David Godwin at DGA, and Allen Lane will publish in September 2013.
Publishing Director Stuart Proffitt has acquired the fascinating Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher de Hamel, one of the world's leading experts on medieval manuscripts. The idea for the book, which is entirely new, is to invite the reader into an intimate conversation with a selection of the most famous manuscripts in existence, and to let each of those manuscripts illuminate the Middle Ages and sometimes the modern world too. Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts takes the reader on exclusive private visits to a dozen very varied collections, in different parts of the world, to discover twelve great manuscripts and to explore their historical and intellectual significance in the Middle Ages and the modern world. Stuart Proffitt bought World rights from Caroline Dawnay of United Agents. Allen Lane will publish in Spring 2016.
Finally, just ahead of the fair, Publishing Director Simon Winder has bought rights in two new books: Daniel Neep's Modern Syria (to be published by Allen Lane in August 2014), which is the book on the current crisis that is so desperately needed - a brilliantly written and thoughtful account of the unique nature of Syria's history and society from someone who has spent years living in Damascus; and Toby Green's A Fistful of Shells (to be published by Allen Lane in October 2014), a revolutionary new history of Africa in the era of the slave trade, recreating the story of the sprawling, dynamic kingdoms which once filled western and central Africa and first benefitted from, and were then destroyed by, the insatiable need for slaves in the New World. Winder acquired World English language rights for Modern Syria from the Jonathan Pegg Agency and World rights for A Fistful of Shells from Maggie Pearlstine Associates.
Over at Penguin Children's, Richard Haines, Acquisitions Manager, Media and Entertainment, has acquired the physical and eBook publishing rights for EA Games and PopCap's global video game phenomenon Plants vs. Zombies™, in a three-year deal that covers all physical book formats and eBooks. The first books Plants vs. Zombies Official Guide, The Official Sticker Book and a Joke Book will publish in August 2013. Plants vs. Zombies is the fun-dead action hit from PopCap Games that has been downloaded over 120 million times across various platforms worldwide and has won over 30 Game of the Year awards since it was first released in 2009. The game sees players place a variety of vegetation around their house to protect it from a steadily encroaching horde of family-friendly zombies. Each one of the zombie-zapping plants has its own special powers and it takes a mixture of strategy and quick thinking to keep the fun-loving zombies at bay. An eagerly awaited sequel is currently in development and will launch later this year, boosting popularity even further. Puffin holds World rights excluding North America and Asia.
Haines has also acquired children's publishing rights from TLC to Peanuts. Rights include English language in the UK, Australia, South Africa, India and Asia. Puffin will launch with a Peanuts picture book in the summer of 2014, followed by lots more publishing in 2015 to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Peanuts. Peanuts was created by Charles M. Schultz in 1950 and is the most influential comic strip in history with over 17,000 strips published; a truly global brand, Peanuts is now worth over $1billion in retail sales each year.
This year sees iconic brand and the comic of choice for children everywhere - The Beano - celebrate 75 hilarious years and Penguin Children's is thrilled to announce brand new Dennis the Menace fiction from acclaimed author and actor Steven Butler. This publishing first for the brand will launch in November with The Diary of Dennis the Menace – rib-tickling tales of life in Beanotown told in Dennis's own words – with a bit of help from Gnasher of course! November will also see publication of a Bash Street Joke Book. 2014 will see a wide-ranging tie-in programme including further fiction titles, an official sticker book, a search-and-find book and an official guide. Penguin Children's own UK and Ireland English language rights.
And lastly, it is rare these days that a book moves with such sensational speed and excitement and although the manuscript only hit Editorial Director Ben Horslen's desk at Puffin two days before Bologna Children's Book Fair, Sally Green's sensational debut Half Bad was the book everyone was talking about at the fair.
Since Bologna, Zosia Knopp, Penguin Children's Rights Director, has concluded a six-figure US deal at auction for Half Bad with Ken Wright, Vice President and Publisher of Viking, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. Pre-empts have been accepted from Brazilian publisher Intrinseca and Israeli publisher Kinneret. Multiple offers have been received from Germany (eight houses are bidding, in Puffin's biggest German auction to date), France (five offers received), Italy (four offers and counting), the Netherlands and Serbia.
In addition, the author's agent, Claire Wilson of Rogers, Coleridge and White Ltd, has co-ordinated a hotly contested sale of film rights in conjunction with Sally Willcox at CAA in Los Angeles. Several major studios were in on the action but the rights eventually went to Fox, with Karen Rosenfelt (Twilight, Percy Jackson and the Sea Monsters, The Book Thief) slated to produce.
Sally Green said: "The interest from Hollywood has been phenomenal and agreeing a film deal in such a short space of time was quite overwhelming, but I was so impressed by Fox 2000 and Karen Rosenfelt that I couldn't resist. I think many writers, me included, fantasise that they will get published and the film of the book will be made, but we never really believe it. Hold on and let me check those emails from Penguin and Fox really do exist . . ."
Half Bad is the first title in the Half Life trilogy, a supernatural thriller set in a modern world inhabited by covert witches, Black and White: factions divided by hatred and united by one thing only – fear of a boy descended from both sides. A stunning first person evocation of alienation and the will to survive, this extraordinarily powerful new voice marks the arrival of a major new YA talent to rival Patrick Ness and Marcus Zusak in its originality and impact and The Hunger Games in its exceptional commercial appeal.