Add It to the List: THE SHAPE OF WATER


Contact: Molly Ellis, Director of Publicity

Macmillan Publishing Group




New York, NY (XX XX, 2017) – Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group, will publishThe Shape of Water, an original adult novel that both mirrors and extends the story told by the feature film of the same name. Fox Searchlight Pictures will release the film, which has already won the coveted Golden Lion as Best Picture at the Venice International Film Festival, on December 1, 2017. Based on an original idea by del Toro and Kraus, The Shape of Water has been developed from the ground up as a bold two-tiered release—one story interpreted by two artists in the independent mediums of film and literature.

The Shape of Water is set in Cold War-era Baltimore at the Occam Aerospace Research Center, which has recently received its most sensitive asset ever: an amphibious man captured in the Amazon. What unfolds is a haunting love story between the asset and one of the female janitors on staff, a mute woman who uses sign language to communicate with the creature. The book features illustrations by  visual artist James Jean, and weaves fantasy, fable, and romance to create a tale that is equally gripping on the page as it is on the big screen.

Kraus and Del Toro previously collaborated on the young adult novel Trollhunters, which was adapted into the most-watched family show in Netflix history. It was during a meeting about that project that the two began to develop the idea which became The Shape of Water.

“This is a story I've been thinking about since I was six years old and saw Julie Adams in Creature from the Black Lagoon,” said Guillermo del Toro. “I always hoped she and the creature would end up together, but they didn't. It was over a breakfast with my Trollhunters collaborator Daniel Kraus that he told me about his version of a similar idea and I knew immediately that we'd cracked the story, both for the movie and the book.” 

The Shape of Water is my oldest spark of an idea—I’ve been carrying it around inside me since I was fifteen,” said Daniel Kraus. “But it wasn’t a fully fleshed story until I met Guillermo. Within seconds of telling him the premise, he began filling in the narrative blanks. I love writing with Guillermo because he’s the the most earnest, emotionally open artist I know, and those sensibilities compliment my darker, grittier tendencies.”

“Guillermo and Daniel are two of my favorite storytellers,” said editorial director Christian Trimmer. “And what they have created with The Shape of Water is nothing short of brilliant.”

Trimmer negotiated the book deal with Richard Abate of 3 Arts Entertainment and Gary Ungar of Exile Entertainment for World Rights. Publication is planned for February 27, 2018. The film, directed by del Toro and starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, and Richard Jenkins, will be released by Fox Searchlight on December 1, 2017.

Add It to the List: BENT HEAVENS by Daniel Kraus

Just a couple of months after I started at Simon & Schuster, I received a proposal and some sample chapters for The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch. I was beyond desperate to work on the two-book series and celebrated heartily after I won the auction. In a little more than two months, after three-plus years and almost 1500 pages, Zebulon's complete story will be out in the world. 

I thought Daniel might want to take a break after finishing his epic, but no. He's eager to write the next story, and when that one is done, he'll immediately move on to the next one. Daniel has so many stories in him that he's racing against the clock. 

That next story is Bent Heavens, a contemporary--!--story told from the point-of-view of a young woman--!!! It's so different from all of Daniel's previous books but promises to be, as always,  intelligent, terrifying, morally complex, and brilliant.

It's My Fall 2015 List!

Over the last couple of weeks, some lovely folks have revealed the covers of the books I'm editing with publication dates in Fall 2015. (See here, here, here, and here.) The titles and covers fed to accounts over the weekend (our first metadata feed for the season), which means they're all available for preorder. Yay for you! 

I thought it'd be cool to give you, dear reader, a little insight as to how these covers came together. 

Maid of Wonder by Jennifer McGowan is the third book in the glamorous, action-packed Maids of Honor series. It goes on sale on 25 August 2015.

Lucy Cummins had established a great look for the series with the paperback edition of Maid of Secrets, so there was no need to toss around a bunch of ideas. Instead, we could go straight into casting with the goal of finding a compelling young woman and a couple of hot guys. The lead character in Maid of Wonder, Sophia Dee, is the youngest of the Maids of Honor as well as a bit of an oddball--her gift of Sight has made her less socially graceful than her fellow maids. So Lucy and I needed to find someone youthful (all the models we meet are young, but many do not look youthful) with a vulnerable, ethereal quality, which this young woman totally had. In terms of the young men, we met a bunch of them (poor us, right?). The boys who made it to the cover had physical qualities that matched Sophia's suitors in the novel. They also happened to be fun to be around, which makes a shoot day all the more enjoyable.

Once casting was done, Lucy got to work sourcing costumes and props. There isn't a ton of quality Elizabethan garb available to the general public--the thought crossed my mind to call Sandy Powell and ask her what she did with the Shakespeare in Love costumes--but Lucy found some gorgeous pieces. 

We shot the cover at Michael Frost's very cool studio in Manhattan near Union Square. (I've worked with him on a few occasions, and it's always a blast to be in his space.) Lucy then selected her favorite images, and she and I reviewed them together. After a little bit of Photoshop magic, she presented the finished cover. The actual jacket will have a fancy holographic foil on the title. 

Lock & Mori, the first book in a new trilogy by Heather Petty, introduces us to a modern-day, sixteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes on the day he meets Miss James "Mori" Moriarty at their high school.

Though there has been a big shift in the industry toward illustrated covers for YA novels (a few years ago, this was not the case--publishers were encouraged to use photographs), our sense was that we needed to take pictures of actual humans for Lock & Mori. Krista Vossen devised a concept (if memory serves, she pitched just this one--it immediately felt right) and hired photographer Ylva Erevall. Next, we had the casting. I've been to a bunch of them at this point in my career, and I'll admit that they sometimes don't go very well. Not many models show up, or the ones who do don't look like the characters in the book. Or a model walks in, and you think, Yes, he's perfect! But then you discover he only has one expression and a leaden personality. Still, we must make a choice--a studio has been booked, hair and make-up hired, and costumes ordered, not to mention the in-house deadlines. But at the Lock & Mori casting, it was as if Catherine and Massey (the models we ended up hiring) had stepped out of the pages of the manuscript.

Ylva shot TONS of images, with the models in various poses and outfits; Krista has plenty to choose from for the next two books in the trilogy. The image on the bottom half of the cover (a stock photo) represents a key plot detail in Book One; Books Two and Three will follow suit.The final jacket is being printed on gritty stock with a metallic foil on the front cover.

Daniel Kraus is one of my favorite writers, so I was thrilled to beat out a bunch of other houses in the auction for The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volumes 1 and 2. When it came time to talk about the cover for Book One, publishing on 27 October 2015, we knew we needed to go with an illustration...but of what? The novel spans five decades and two continents. There are dozens of characters. The book is a coming-of-age tale, it's historical fiction, it's gothic, it's literary, it's horror.

Thankfully, Lizzy Bromley had a plan. She came up with a list of illustrators whom she felt could capture the spirit of the book in a narrative way. One of those artists, the absolutely brilliant Ken Taylor, was intrigued by the novel's premise and signed on to the project. Lizzy and I provided him with a list of objects significant to Zebulon's story, as well as a little guidance on Zebulon's physical appearance--he took it from there. Ken's finished piece is one of the most intriguing, exciting, and cool illustrations I've ever seen for a book. Lizzy made it even more awesome with her excellent title treatment, color choices, and special effects.

Captive by A. J. Grainger, out on 11/3/15, is exactly what a thriller is meant to be: a fast-paced novel that keeps you guessing and is, most importantly, thrilling. In the book, the British Prime Minster's daughter has been kidnapped by terrorists. The story doesn't pull any punches, and designer Krista Vossen took inspiration from some of its dark and graphic scenes. She showed the group (at one of our bi-weekly meetings, in which designers and editors talk about covers) a number of images. This close-up of a girl blindfolded perfectly captured the tone of the book. Krista added some graininess to the image to create even more distance between our imperiled heroine and the reader. The finished jacket will have an extra shiny gloss to emulate a TV screen. 

Check out the Coming Soon tab in the near future to learn more about these books.