A memoir from Elton John and a graphic novel from Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent are among the hottest as-yet-unsigned properties from UK agents heading into the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Pop superstar John has decided to tell “the full story of his life and extraordinary career with exceptional candor and wit”, acccording his representatives, The Wylie Agency.
John’s book will undoubtedly be the hottest non-fiction property on submission this FBF. It perhaps will not approach Amy Schumer numbers in the run-in to FBF 2015—when S&S US may have paid as much as $10m for North American rights alone to the comedian’s memoir—but the advance will certainly eclipse seven figures. John’s principal agent is Wylie founder Andrew Wylie.
John previously published an autobiographical title, Love is the Cure (Hodder), in 2012. That book was narrowly focused on the pop star’s experiences of losing friends to AIDS during the height of the disease’s epidemic. It did not set the charts on fire, however, shifting just 2,800 units through Nielsen BookScan.
Tibor Jones agent Laura Macdougall, meanwhile, is representing Broadbent in his first foray into books, a collaboration with the Welsh illustrator Dix on the graphic novel Dull Margaret.
Broadbent, who won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award in 2002 playing John Bayley in “Iris”, is known for a variety of roles including the club owner in “Moulin Rouge”, Professor Slughorn in the Harry Potter series and father to the titular character in the three Bridget Jones films.
The actor was inspired to write Dull Margaret after seeing Bruegel’s painting, Dulle Griet, which features “a strong, intense woman striding determinedly across the landscape”. Broadbent said: “I come from Lincolnshire and have long been fixated on the flat coastal marshes, and I wanted to bring those two elements together in a film script. The story began to unfold from there, incorporating images from more of my favourite artists: Goya’s witches, Daumier’s pictures of Travelling Players, Rembrandt’s flat, low country landscapes.”
Broadbent first wrote Dull Margaret as a film script but said: “Having garnered a lot of interest in the idea of making a film, it was impossible to find anyone to put up the quite large sum of money required”. He then contacted Dix—perhaps best known for his “Roll Up! Roll Up” comics in The Guardian—and the two began collaborating.
Macdougall said: “Working with Jim and Dix on their first collaboration is incredibly exciting, especially at a time when the graphic novel market is really taking off. Dull Margaret is not only a brilliant combination of author and illustrator, it’s also a dark and interesting tale of greed, friendship and loneliness.”
Several attention-grabbing big deals have already been struck ahead of Frankfurt Book Fair, which begins on 19th October. George Osborne’s The Age of Unreason by the Rt. Hon George Osborne MP was snapped up by William Collins this week, while in fiction, the much talked-about The Chalk Man by C J Tudor went to Michael Joseph after a nine-way auction, Hutchinson pre-empted Swan Song in a six-figure deal and Picador won Dear Mrs Bird after a seven-way auction.
The full UK agents' hotlists are featured in the 7th October print edition of The Bookseller magazine.