Award-winning author, renowned poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, 86, died at her home in Winston-Salem, NC early Wednesday morning. She had been in failing health for some time, cancelling an awards appearance several days earlier. “She’d been very frail and had heart problems, but she was going strong, finishing a new book,” Angelou’s agent Helen Brann told ABC News. “I spoke to her yesterday. She was fine, as she always was. Her spirit was indomitable.” Angelou was the author of more than 30 books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, most notably I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS (1969) and most recently MOM AND ME AND MOM (2013). Last fall she was honored with the National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award.
Book Expo America officially opened Wednesday morning for the conference programming and registration lines and entrance spaces were completely packed. Most of those attendees were in cap and gown, however, as the lower portion of the Javits Center is hosting the John Jay College graduation today. Meanwhile, upstairs at the Crystal Palace atrium, you’ll see more oversized banners hanging from the rafters promoting big fall books than ever before.
Chris Grimm will join Kensington on June 16 as director of sales, reporting to president and ceo Steven Zacharius. Grimm has been at Globe Pequot since 2006, most recently as vp of sales.
David Pomerico will join William Morrow/Harper Voyager as executive editor on May 28, reporting to Jennifer Brehl. Most recently he has been an acquiring editor at Amazon’s 47North.
Joseph Pittman will join Riverdale Avenue Books as editorial director for the digital publisher’s new mystery/thriller imprint Dagger. He was most recently publishing coordinator at E-Reads, and before then worked in editorial positions at Alyson Books, Vantage Point Press, and Bantam.
Amy Cherrix, Anna Dobbin, Christine Krones, and Anna Meier have all been promoted to editorial associate at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s.
Gillian Flynn is the latest bestselling author to join the Hogarth Shakespeare initiative. She will write a retelling of Hamlet. The series launches in 2016, but no release date was announce for Flynn’s contribution. She says in the announcement, “Hamlet has long been a fascination of mine: murder, betrayal, revenge, deceit, madness—all my favorite things.”
With his latest thriller Suspicion just publishing this week from Dutton, the Boston Globe profiles Joseph Finder‘s “abrupt change” in publishing strategy two years ago: “After his last novel, Buried Secrets, failed to make the bestseller list, the Boston-based author bought out his contract with a seven-figure check, left his longtime publisher and agent, and wrote his next novel without a signed deal in place. He took an additional risk by not publishing anything for nearly three years, an eternity in the life of a popular thriller writer. His goal was to remake his brand, and aim at a larger audience.” Finder tells the paper of leaving St.Martin’s this way, “It was the bravest thing I ever did, and I’m not a brave person.” But he praises his former publisher: “If not for them, I would not be a New York Times best-seller, period. We just disagreed. They wanted me to be the CEO of Suspense. And I felt that was too constricting.”