THR's Book Deals of the Week: Jesmyn Ward’s Follow Up Novel, a Memoir of Young Love and Loss and a ‘Gossip Girl’ Meets 'Twin Peaks' YA series

 

After the Christmas rush, January is often a slow time for book releases but several promising deals have already been struck in 2012.

The new year has started with a number of interesting celebrity memoirs. The most prominent is Elton John's personal take on the AIDS crisis, Love is the Cure: Ending the Global Aids Epidemic. John promises to use the stories of AIDS victims he's known like Ryan White and Freddie Mercury to write about how the personal toll the crisis took on his life. Read The Hollywood Reporter's story on the deal here.

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Others selling memoirs so far in 2012 include J. R. Martinez, the injured Iraqi vet who went on to become a soap opera actor and winner of ABC's Dancing with the Stars competition.  On a potentially more humorous note, Scott Baio struck a deal with Berkeley for his memoir How Did I Get Here? for publication in 2013. Baio says he'll tell about his career and his well-chronicled romances, which have included Happy Days co-star Erin MoranPamela Anderson and Heather Locklear.  Now 51, Baio poked gently poked fun at himself in the 2007 VH1 reality show Scott Baio Is 45... And Single. More recently, Baio attracted attention for his conservative political views expressed in his twitter feed. In 2012, he'll be seen in Nick at Nite's new sitcom Daddy's Home.

The really interesting deals of the new year are all in fiction. Here's THR's look at four of the most important of early 2012:

Untitled Novel by Jesmyn Ward to Bloomsbury by Jennifer Lyons Literary

The follow up novel to Ward's 2011 National Book Award winning Salvage the Bones will also be set in the fictional Mississippi town of Bois Sauvage (shades off Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County) but will focus on new characters--an interracial couple--to explore the meaning of race in place known for its Creole and mixed race population. The novel is scheduled for publication in 2013 but before then Ward will release a memoir titled The Men We Reaped. Surprisingly, the movie rights to Salvage did not originally sell, though sources tell THR that several A-list producers and screenwriters are now pursuing the rights.

My Foreign Cities by Elizabeth Scarboro sold to Liveright by Maria Massie at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin

Scarboro's heartbreaking story about her relationship with and subsequent marriage to her high school sweetheart Stephen, who died of cystic fibrosis at 29. The memoir first saw light as a moving New York Times "Modern Love" column, in which she wrote about taking sperm from her dying husband and then debating whether to use it later to have a child.  Scarboro's unsentimental recollections and restrained writing in the column suggest that this could be a powerful book.

Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor sold to Thomas Dunne Books, by Suzie Townsend at Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation

This YA novel tells the story of a sixteen-year old Queen Bee who enrolls in a mysterious blue-blooded prep school outside Boston after she is expelled from an elite Manhattan private school. She finds herself caught up in a murder mystery that reveals the school's secret history. Scheduled for publication in mid-2013, Prep School is envisioned as the first in a series of novels that are pitched as Gossip Girl meets Twin Peaks. Theatrical rights have not yet been sold but it’s easy to understand why at least one TV network has already started eyeing this for series development.

Pound 4 Pound by Alan Sitomer to Disney Children's by Al Zuckerman of Writers House.

A YA novel with a bit of the feel of the 2011 movie Warrior.  It's the tale of a high school student who wins a spot at a prestigious prep school in California but is also a rising star in the world of mixed martial arts fighting, the girl he loves who encourages him to pursue his education, and the abusive, father-manager who wants him to keep fighting.

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