Sunday, June 1, 2008


Policewoman / Novelist Stacy Dittrich is in California this weekend, attending the nation's largest annual event in publishing: BookExpo America. Held this year at the Los Angeles Convention Center, BEA is a four-day gathering of power players in the bookselling industry. This year, BEA was expecting to draw 30,000 publishers, booksellers, librarians, and authors, including crime fiction masters Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane, who will both be speaking. Also in attendance is our own Stacy Dittrich (pictured right), whose first crime novel debuts this fall.

At the publishing showcase each year, booksellers trot out celebrities with their tell-alls. Actor Alec Baldwin (below) spoke to attendees on his upcoming book, A Promise to Ourselves: Fatherhood, Divorce and Family Law. Joining Baldwin on the panel was basketball great Magic Johnson who has a book coming out next year. Magic's first book, What You Can Do to Avoid AIDS, was removed by a school in 1996. According to PEN, a champion of the rights of authors and journalists, freedom of expression is under fire now more than ever, with government posing the greatest threat. During yesterday's program at BookExpo, PEN co-hosted "Something to Hide: Writers and Artists Against the Surveillance State," part of PEN's Campaign for Core Freedoms.

PEN (Poets, Essayists and Novelists) has joined forces with other influential human rights groups to combat government infringements on basic civil liberties. Through its campaign, PEN aims to restore privacy protections for records maintained by bookstores and libraries.

In such causes, marks made by the power of the PEN are indelible. PEN supported WCI contributor Vanessa Leggett during her fight with the Justice Department. The feds jailed Vanessa in an unsuccessful attempt to seize her records and identify her confidential sources.

WCI's Private Investigator Donna Weaver knows firsthand about governnment interference. Donna holds the FBI responsible for her husband's mysterious disappearance and presumed murder in 1983. For a book on her quest for justice, Donna has teamed with New Times columnist Bob Norman. In researching her story, Bob accompanied Donna to the Bahamas to search for answers as well as her husband's body, which has never been found. (Above, Donna and husband Gary feed their twin daughters.)

The literary agent for Donna's story is attending BEA this weekend. And a busy agent she will be. Claire Gerus is shopping the book proposal for Bob Norman and Donna in addition to representing Stacy Dittrich, also a client. (WCI's Robin Sax, an L.A. County prosecutor, is yet another author Gerus represents. With BEA meeting in Los Angeles this year, Robin was able to join Stacy and Gerus for dinner last night.)

This year's venue was timely for Stacy, whose detective series has caught the attention of the Academy Award-winning producer of The Devil Wears Prada, another book-to-screen adaptation. That producer contacted Gerus about adapting Stacy's first crime novel for Lifetime as a movie of the week, or even as a TV series featuring Stacy's heroine, Detective CeeCee Gallagher, whose storyline was inspired by Stacy's real-life work as a Richland County Sheriff's deputy in Mansfield, Ohio.

"It's very exciting and a little intimidating," Stacy told the Mansfield News Journal in a recent article announcing new developments in the veteran police officer's writing career. Donna's attitude is slightly more tempered. "I'm praying for a miracle--that Claire finds us a home. I know it doesn't usually happen that fast, but it could happen, right?"

Industry insiders who have weathered a turbulent year in publishing are less than enthusiastic. "I would anticipate a somewhat more subdued mood than in past years," HarperCollins publisher Steve Ross told reporters, speaking of "shake-ups and shakeouts and impending changes bad and good" in the book business. "I also expect the usual jockeying for possession of `The Next Big Book,'" he added, "since there are no clear candidates."

Stacy? . . . Donna? . . . Are those your hands we see waving in the air? . . . Have fun at BookExpo, "Where the world gathers to get a great READ on the industry."

1 comment:

Robin Sax said...

I caught a glimpse CeCe Gallagher when she was in town.