Friday, December 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A gorgeous gala for former Vogue editor turned OAfrica founder, Lisa Lovatt-Smith

Published this month from Weinstein Books, the memoir Who Knows Tomorrow tells the extraordinary, true story of Lisa Lovatt-Smith, who was handpicked by Anna Wintour to work at Vogue, rose quickly through the ranks as an international editor, then gave everything up to volunteer with orphans in rural Ghana. Finding the orphanage conditions appalling and abusive, Lisa founded OAfrica and dedicated her life and resources to improving conditions for hundreds of Ghanian children.

Lisa recently held a charity gala for OAfrica to coincide with her book launch at the Pierre Hotel in New York. It was full of celebrities, Vogue insiders, and fashion! All proceeds went directly to OAfrica (as do a portion of the book profits). OAfrica's mission, per its website, follows:

OAfrica empowers children and young people in need of care and protection because of institutionalization, abandonment, discrimination or abuse to become productive members of their communities. We accomplish this by strengthening families and reintegrating separated or at-risk children whose rights have been compromised due to poverty, violence, trafficking, and HIV/AIDS into safe, stable and loving environments. We work to keep families together, send children to school, keep mothers alive and protect children by transforming systems.

Gala Chair, actress Rosario Dawson opened the event, which was sponsored and hosted by Valentino. An auction followed, and all guests received copies of Who Knows Tomorrow. In her speech, Lisa Lovatt-Smith spoke movingly about her work, and about having battled the HIV/AIDS epidemic and now facing the looming threat of Ebola.

Rosario Dawson
Courtesy of

Guests in attendance included actor Ben Stiller, model and actress Selita Ebanks, Nylon magazine Style Director Dani Stahl, fashion photographer Kelly Klein, DJ and model Leigh Lezark, Vensette founder Lauren Remington Platt, Valentino brand ambassador Carlos Souza, and many more.

The New York Post's Page Six featured the event, as did Avenue Magazine. To view the celebrities in attendance and the stunning designers they wore, check out the photos here:

Pictured left to right, Valentino Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri, Ben Stiller, Lisa Lovatt-Smith, and Valentino Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli
Courtesy of

Friday, October 10, 2014

Newly minted NYT bestseller Sarah Waters's THE PAYING GUESTS is a "tour de force"

We are so excited that Sarah Waters's The Paying Guests (Riverhead, October 2014) is a New York Times bestseller! It debuted at #12 last week, hits #7 this week, and will be #9 next week! This marks the first time one of Waters's novels--perennial bestsellers in the UK--has hit the US bestseller lists. Congratulations, Sarah!

The Paying Guests is also a finalist for the inaugural Kirkus Prize (winners to be announced October 23) and is an Indie Next and Library Reads pick. It's hit #8 on the Indie Bestseller List and debuted at #3 on the UK Sunday Times bestseller list. The regional US has been taken by storm as well, with The Paying Guests recently reaching #4 on the New England list, #8 on the Southern list, #13 on the Mountains and Plains, #7 on the Pacific NW, #7 on the Heartland, #6 for SoCal, #8 for NoCA, and #9 for New Atlantic.

So just how did The Paying Guests explode across the literary scene?

Part of its success has had to do with Riverhead's publishing team, which garnered extensive national coverage (see below) and completely repackaged Waters's five-book backlist to echo The Paying Guests's gorgeous cover. But, really, their efforts have only served to illuminate for the nation something anyone who reads Waters's books already knows: Sarah Waters is immensely talented and writes amazing, haunting, heart-stoppingly good novels.

Slate's review describes Waters's particular talent perfectly:

Her six novels, beginning with Tipping the Velvet in 1998, could be called historical fiction, but that doesn’t begin to capture their appeal. It is closer to say that she is creating pitch-perfect popular fiction of an earlier time, but swapping out its original moral engine for a sensibility that is distinctly queer and contemporary, as if retrofitting a classic car.

While Waters's previous books have taken place in Victorian- or 1940s-era England, The Paying Guests marks her first foray into the 1920s. It was a particularly rich and complex time in England, as Waters explains in her New York Times interview:

“It’s that shift, that moment of modernity," Ms. Waters said. "The impact of the First World War was to shake things up enormously, loosening up old mores, fashions and behaviors. The early ’20s were like the waist of an hourglass. Lots of things were hurtling toward it and squeezing through it and then hurtling out the other side.”

In The Paying Guests, as with all her books, Waters captures historical details so precisely it feels like you're living and breathing the 1920s the moment you open the book. Waters describes how she achieves this in a recent Out Magazine interview:

“Just as we’re sitting here, the way our clothes feel, the things we can hear, all the food we’re eating—we don’t notice because it’s just a part of the fabric of our lives,” she says. “You have to think about those things that are so much a part of the fabric of your characters’ lives that they cease to notice them, and yet try to convey them to a reader quietly.”

While a central plot point in The Paying Guests revolves around a crime, the book is about so much more. “I wanted to write a love story that’s complicated by a crime, not a crime story complicated by love,” Waters told Vogue in her recent interview.

It's smart choices like this, combined with her retrofitting talent, historical precision, and more that have contributed to a simply must-read book. For a taste, check out the Wall Street Journal excerpt.

And if, somehow, you still need convincing, here are only a portion of the glowing reviews:

"Some novels are so good, so gripping or shattering that they leave you uncertain whether you should have ever started them. You open The Paying Guests and immediately surrender to the smooth assuredness of Waters’s silken prose. Nothing jars. You relax. You turn more pages. You start turning them faster. Before long, you resemble Coleridge’s Wedding-Guest: You cannot choose but read. The book has you in thrall. You will follow Waters and her story anywhere. Yet when that story ends, you find yourself emotionally sucked dry, as much stunned as exhilarated by the power of art." --The Washington Post

“Will keep you sleepless for three nights straight and leave you grasping for another book that can sustain that high.” --Entertainment Weekly, "A" rating

The Paying Guests was also ranked #3 on Entertainment Weekly's “Must” list; they called it “one of the year’s most engrossing and suspenseful novels…a love affair, a shocking murder, and a flawless ending."

The Paying Guests is a knockout… As alert as Waters is to historical detail, she's also a superb storyteller with a gift for capturing the layered nuances of character and mood….Spellbinding…The Paying Guests is one of those big novels you hate to see end.” --NPR

"Perhaps Waters’s most impressive accomplishment is the authentic feel she achieves, that the telling—whether in its serious, exciting, comic or sexy passages—has no modern tinge. ..The story appears not merely to be about the novel’s time but to have been written by someone living in that time, thumping out the whole thing on a manual typewriter." --The New York Times Book Review

[A] tour de force of precisely observed period detail and hidden passions.” --Wall Street Journal

An exquisitely tuned exploration of class in post-Edwardian Britain—with really hot sex...Waters is a master of pacing, and her metaphor-laced prose is a delight...As life-and-death questions are answered, new ones come up, and until the last page, the reader will have no idea what’s going to happen. Waters keeps getting better, if that’s even possible after the sheer perfection of her earlier novels.” --Kirkus, starred review

“Dazzling. [Waters] can, it seems, do everything: the madness of love; the squalor of desire; the coexistence of devotion and annoyance; 'the tangle of it all'...At her greatest, Waters transcends genre...The Paying Guests is the apotheosis of her talent.” --The Financial Times

“Waters seems to revel in 19th and 20th century British history as a dolphin does in water: Her literary depictions of domestic life, manners, architecture, class structure, the weight of war and the volatility of love all appear as effortless as they are beautifully executed…Moving and delicately wrought.”--Los Angeles Times

“Waters turns to the 1920s and delivers what feels like three novels for the price of one…a meticulously observed comedy of awkward manners… a story of torrid, forbidden trysts conducted behind a facade of conventional feminine respectability…[and] a tense tale of crime, mystery and suspense that culminates in a nail-biting courtroom drama…Exceedingly difficult to put down, The Paying Guests should scratch the same big-novel itch that Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch satisfied last year.” --Salon

[A] delicious hothouse of a novel…There's palpable tension from page one, so buckle up and prepare for a wild ride--one that's under perfect authorial control…Somehow, Waters pulls off this improbable feat with fine-tuned prose that's by turns crisply cool and pressure-cooker hot. The Paying Guests channels the past via E.M. Forster, Dickens and Tolstoy, quickened with a dollop of contemporary Dennis Lehane noir…This is a fever dream of a novel—Waters' best—that will leave you all wrung out.” --USA Today

[A] pulse-pounder of a novel that feels…personal and raw…even while it delivers the genre goods…Waters remains a master of her genre, the historical novel rewritten as a dissection of the individual conscience…Undeniably fascinating.” --The Chicago Tribune

“The new Sarah Waters novel, which finds the author at the height of her powers, weaves her characteristic threads of historical melodrama, lesbian romance, class tension, and sinister doings into a fabric of fictional delight that alternately has the reader flipping pages as quickly as possible, to find out what happens next, and hesitating to turn the page, for fear of what will happen next.” --Boston Globe

“If you haven’t already embraced the novels of Sarah Waters, now is the moment. Don’t think twice. Collect all six and devour them with the same feverish abandon of the lovers who can be found between their covers…[The Paying Guests]  is no romance novel or mere thriller, but a well-wrought, closely observed drama of a tumultuous period in British history… Herein lies the deliciousness of this book, and the others Waters has written: As much as Frances longs to give her heart to someone who will cherish it, we can never be sure, when she opens the final door, whether she will find the lady or the gallows.” --St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“It's been a while since a book kept me up until 3:30 a.m., but The Paying Guests grabbed me and would not let me go until I turned page 566 and closed the cover with a sigh. The wonderfully melodramatic plot, the brilliant characterization of protagonist Frances Wray, the vivid depiction of the zeitgeist in post-WWI London--each of these elements was equally responsible for the kidnapping of this unsuspecting reader.” --Newsday

A singular novel of psychological tension, emotional depth and historical detail.” --BookPage

An absorbing character study [and] expertly paced and gripping psychological narrative...Readers of Water’s previous novels know that she brings historical eras to life with consummate skill, rendering authentic details into layered portraits of particular times and places...Breathtaking.” --Publishers Weekly, starred review

So brilliantly unexpected, and so nerve-shreddingly tense, that it keeps the reader guessing until the very last paragraph.” --The Bookseller

“A beautiful and turbulent novel about the complexity, and often futility, of personal and social change…With The Paying Guests, Waters has not only crafted a vivid portrait of class dissolution in post-WWI London, but also a look at the achingly human need for a sense of purpose and, if we’re lucky, a little intimacy.” --AV Club

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How to Become an International Bestseller in 8 Steps!

1. Write novels about famous maligned women in history and Tudor spies.

C.W. Gortner tells the stories of famous historical figures as you've never heard them before. The Last Queen (Ballantine 2008) is about “Juana La Loca,” the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country's throne. The Confessions of Catherine de Medici (2010) is about the last legitimate descendant of the Medici line who became—according to some—a most ruthless queen of France. The Queen's Vow (2012) is about Isabella of Castile, the warrior-queen who sent Columbus to America. In 2016, Ballantine will publish a stunning, new Gortner novel about Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Italy's first crime family.

Gortner's The Tudor Secret (St. Martin's Press 2011), The Tudor Conspiracy (2013), and The Tudor Vendetta (forthcoming October 2014) follow the story of a spy in the Tudor court during the reigns of Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I.

Gortner's next novel, coming from William Morrow in March 2015, imagines the life of the woman who revolutionized fashion, built an international empire, and become one of the most influential and controversial figures of the twentieth century—Coco Chanel! Look out for Mademoiselle Chanel in the spring!

2. Make them good.

Simply put, Gortner's “meticulously researched,”1 “page-turner”2 novels “spi[n] grand tale[s] of opulence and deception, privilege and destruction, madness and fragile love”3 that “captiv[ate] audiences with their complexity,”4 “com[ing] together with a beauty and passion that can't be found anywhere in the pages of history books”5; they are “masterwork[s] by a skilled craftsman...that will delight romantics and historians alike.”6

1. Publishers Weekly on The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
2. Historical Novel Society on The Tudor Conspiracy
3. Historical Novel Review on The Last Queen
4. on The Tudor Secret
5. Romantic Times Book Reviews on The Queen's Vow
6. New York Journal of Books on The Queen's Vow

3. Sell your novels in 23 countries and counting.

Bulgaria * China * Croatia * Czech Republic * Estonia * Germany * Hungary * Indonesia * Italy * Latvia * Lithuania * Norway * Poland * Portugal * Romania * Russia * Serbia * Slovenia * Spain * Sweden * Turkey * United Kingdom * United States

4. Get a great Polish publicist—and a great Polish publisher and Polish coagent, etc, etc.

Above is Gortner (right) pictured with his publicist (center) from Polish publisher Znak.

5. Get sent to Poland on an international tour.

6. While in Poland, appear on popular TV and radio programs; speak at major bookstores; and get reviewed and interviewed in newspapers, magazines, websites, and blogs.

Above, Gortner talks at Matras bookstore and answers reader questions about The Queen's Vow. Among many other places, he was interviewed at Newsweek Polska and!

And check out the gorgeous banner ad for The Queen's Vow!

7. Sign lots of people's books.

8. Congratulations, you are now an international bestseller!

The Queen's Vow rocketed up the bestseller list throughout Poland soon after its release, making individual bestseller lists at Matras bookstores, Empik bookstores, and many internet bookstore outlets.

Congratulations, C.W. Gortner!

Next Step: Repeat Steps 1 – 3 and look for another great opportunity!

Monday, July 21, 2014

TV rights to WONDROUS STRANGE series go to Shaftesbury

Apparently it's all TV/film deals, all the time! We've had a number of exciting TV/film deals announced recently (see The Clan of the Cave Bear and Olivia Kidney), and now we're delighted to announce another!

Leading producer Shaftesbury Films has acquired TV rights to Lesley Livingston's acclaimed Wondrous Strange trilogy, published by HarperCollins! The award-winning trilogy, which includes Wondrous Strange (2008), Darklight (2009), and Tempestuous (2010), follows the adventures of Kelly Winslow, a teenager whose life takes a dramatic turn when she learns she is the long-lost heir to the Faerie realm. 

Livingston will be part of the creative team behind the Wondrous Strange TV production, and as she says in Quill and Quire, "To say that I’m excited about this would be a galactic understatement. Galactic." Shaftesbury produced the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's long-running Murdoch Mysteries series, as well as the Canadian Television Network's paranormal police series The Listener.

The announcement was picked up by Deadline, Quill and Quire, and Publishers Weekly, among others.

Below is the full press release with additional details:


“With a marvelously refreshing heroine, a genuinely lovable hero, and a swift-moving, fascinating plot, Ms. Livingston gives a modern twist to the age-old epic hero’s 'coming of age’ story. Wondrous Strange shows that the world of Faerie can be updated and yet retain its age-old charm - as well as its aura of deadly danger. This is my kind of fiction, and my kind of heroine!”
-LJ Smith, author of The Vampire Diaries

TORONTO/LOS ANGELES, July 14, 2014 – Leading producer Shaftesbury has acquired the television rights to Lesley Livingston’s acclaimed Wondrous Strange young adult trilogy, published by HarperCollins Canada as well as HarperCollins U.S. Including Wondrous Strange (2009), Darklight (2010) and Tempestuous (2011), the book series follows the adventures of a young woman who discovers she is the long-lost heir to the Faerie realm.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bitten and Orphan Black have shown us that television audiences are hungry for genre series featuring strong female protagonists who are dealing with extraordinary circumstances in the real world,” said Maggie Murphy, Head, Shaftesbury U.S. “By putting a refreshingly darker spin on classic fairy lore, Wondrous Strange offers an entirely new fantasy world that has never been seen before, with empowering, believable characters who speak directly to the young female demographic.”

“I could not be more thrilled to hand this world and these characters over to Shaftesbury,” said Livingston. “This kind of creative, dedicated, professional team is one that writers wait a long time for and I’m so excited to see this story getting the opportunity to grow beyond the pages of the books.”

Shaftesbury has a long-standing, successful track record in adapting the best of Canadian literature for film and television, including the works of Margaret Atwood, Carol Shields, Mordecai Richler, Timothy Findley, Morley Callaghan, Michael Ignatieff, Dr. Vincent Lam and Maureen Jennings.

In Wondrous Strange, when the invisible membrane dividing our world from an unknown, other dimension is punctured, a young woman named Kelly Winslow joins a small Guard determined to stop the tide of evil…but soon discovers she is born of the very thing she has sworn to destroy. With the mysterious Sonny Flannery by her side, Kelly learns Faeries are alive and well and that she is the missing heir to their throne. As she falls desperately for Sonny, she wonders if the two can ever truly be together. In New York City, just off Broadway - amongst never-ending roadwork, digital overload and street meat - lies the battleground. The evil in Wondrous Strange hides in plain sight, often disguised in seemingly benign human form - always present, awaiting that split-second opportunity when we lower our guard. Late at night the parasites come to call, to snatch our innocent sleeping children. Can Kelly embrace her heritage in time to save the imperfect world she calls home?

Released in Canada and the U.S. in 2009 and multiple international markets including Brazil, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, Russia and Poland, Wondrous Strange was the 2010 Canadian Literary Association’s Young Adult Book of the Year and the 2010 White Pine Honor Book, and was also shortlisted for the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Speculative Fiction.

Lesley Livingston is an acclaimed Toronto-based author whose Wondrous Strange series includes Darklight (2010) and Tempestuous (2011). Livingston’s second trilogy, published by Penguin Canada, includes Once Every Never (2011), Every Never After (2013) and Now and For Never (2014). A spin-off to the Wondrous Strange series, Starling, was released by HarperTeen in 2012 and includes Descendant (2013) and Transcendent (forthcoming December 2014). Livingston’s middle-grade series with Jonathan Llyr, The Wiggins Weird, was published by Penguin Canada in 2013 and includes How to Curse in Hieroglyphics and The Haunting of Heck House. A principal performer and founding member of the Toronto-based Tempest Theatre Group, Livingston also regularly appeared on the Space network series, Spacebar. Livingston is represented by the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc.

About Shaftesbury
With offices in Toronto and Los Angeles, Shaftesbury is an innovative creator and distributor of original content for television and digital platforms. Sold in 120 countries worldwide, Shaftesbury's programming slate includes five seasons of The Listener for CTV, Fox International Channels and ION Television; eight seasons of Murdoch Mysteries for CBC, UKTV and ITV STUDIOS Global Entertainment; and the hit kids series Life with Derek. Shaftesbury's groundbreaking digital media division, Smokebomb Entertainment, creates convergent experiences for television and original digital content including the comedy series Backpackers for The CW and CTV Extend; tween series Totally Amp'd and Unlikely Heroes for and Hulu; and 3D sci-fi series State of Syn for Hulu and Google Glass. Shaftesbury recently launched shift2, an innovative agency that creates, manages and markets digital content targeting Generation C on YouTube. Visit us online at, and

For more information:
Katherine Wolfgang
416-363-1411 x163 or 416-669-2823