For the publishing world, 1999 was the year of the Davids — the unassuming authors (J.K. Rowling and Melissa Bank) who rubbed elbows on the best-seller list with literary Goliaths a la Grisham, King, and Cornwell. How can the book industry continue to dazzle Harry-ed readers? Read on.
THE SURE THINGS
The year gets off to a running start as John Grisham’s The Brethren (Doubleday) hits stores in February. The frenetic, crackerjack tale of the white-collar inmates at a minimum-security prison is a departure from his usual courtroom thriller, but a Grisham-penned grocery list could probably crack the top five…. Patricia Cornwell resurrects tough-chick medical examiner Kay Scarpetta to investigate a 400-year-old homicide in The Last Precinct (Putnam, Nov.), while her publishing housemate Tom Clancy pits newly elected President Jack Ryan against political assassins in The Bear and the Dragon (Putnam, Aug.)…. Last year’s king of the charts, Harry Potter, returns with his whimsical brand of wizardry in J.K. Rowling’s as-yet-untitled fourth installment of the series (Scholastic, tentatively for summer)…. Just in time for Halloween, Anne Rice has the witches confronting the vampires in Merrick (Knopf, Oct.), the latest book in the ”Vampire Chronicles.”… Finally, for real-life fright, Scribner is releasing Stephen King’s as-yet-untitled nonfiction tome in the fall — with an afterword discussing last July’s accident. ”Part memoir, part manual, this book is an intimate encounter with a writer’s life and commitment to his craft,” says Scribner’s Pat Eisemann.
Ah, summer. The season for rollicking, easily digestible reads on which one wouldn’t mind spilling suntan oil. And the surfside merriment begins as early as April, with Danielle Steel’s pithily titled romance The Wedding (Delacorte) and Mary Higgins Clark’s suspense tale about a young woman and a psychic, Before I Say Good-bye (Simon & Schuster)…. The Diva of Dog-ears, Jackie Collins, will offer her usual selection of naughty bits in Lethal Seduction (Simon & Schuster, June)…. Round out your summer reading list with Not a Day Goes By (Doubleday, July), the latest installment of E. Lynn Harris’ addictive series chronicling a hip, engaging circle of African Americans. ”It’s about what happens when two of the wickedest characters meet and fall in love,” says Harris. ”And readers won’t have to put it down while they get tanned.”
Following the success of last year’s Backstreet Boy bio The Heart and Soul of Nick Carter: Secrets Only a Mother Knows, Backstreet (or shall we say Backstage) mom Jane Carter (with Margaret Sagarese) waxes poetic on her younger son Aaron’s six favorite Beanie Babies in Aaron Carter: The Little Prince of Pop (Onyx, April). How could a 12-year-old possibly have enough life fodder to merit a bio? ”He’s had experiences that no other 12-year-old has had,” explains Mrs. Carter. (P.S. Aaron has an album due in spring, too.)… Hoping fans will continue their unexpected burst of literacy, WWF hottie Chyna holds a literary smackdown with her memoir from ReganBooks (untitled, late spring), while the perennially frisky Helen Gurley Brown does some rolling around of her own in I’m Wild Again: Snippets From My Life and a Few Brazen Thoughts (St. Martin’s, Feb.)…. Not to be outdone, Judith Krantz gives us her version of real-life scandal in the appropriately titled Sex and Shopping: The Confessions of a Nice Jewish Girl (St. Martin’s, May). ”I make it very, very clear just how much lying I did,” Krantz chuckles. ”Sitting down to write this was like opening a bottle of champagne.”… The Sound of Music star Charmian Carr muses on a lot more than raindrops on roses in Forever Liesl (Viking, Feb.), and Simon & Schuster publishes Tina Sinatra’s untitled memoir in October…. Famous men prove just as chatty with a glut of manly memoirs hitting stores: Doubleday will publish multimedia mogul Quincy Jones’ (along with writer James McBride) Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones in October, and Sidney Poitier writes a ”spiritual memoir” in The Measure of a Man (HarperSanFrancisco, May)…. Jerry Stiller offers his ode to the mistress of his domain, Married to Laughter: A Love Story Featuring Anne Meara (Simon & Schuster, Sept.). ”What would readers be most surprised about?” asks Stiller. ”Probably the fact that I can actually write.”