New York

ONE DAY THIS winter, I went to a movie with my agent, Pat Feeley, and we stopped off at a publishing house to drop off a heavy box of manuscript she was toting. "I'm asking X thousand dollars for this beauty," said Pat, naming a highly respectable sum in the five-figure range. "I always promised Maureen Baron that if I got a hot ladies' historical novel, I'd let her take first look at it." (Maureen, an editor now at Fawcett, was then at Warner, and had hit first place on the best-seller lists with one of her lust-love manuscripts.) "I promised her she could have it, but I never promised it would be cheap." The week before, Pat had been lunching with an old friend, Carl Johnes, who works on the story end of the movie business. Johnes had a friend, Annelise Kamada, who had spent the last 18 months batting out a 900-page historical, set in 12th-century England. Having no connections into the book business. Mrs. Kamada had asked Carl to read it. But Johnes, who is your true New York sophisticate, has little experience in the gasp-and-sigh ladies' genre, and he turned to his old friend, Feeley. Pat lugged the thing home to Connecticut, tasted it and found it good, and proposed to Johnes that they co-agent it. Under that agreement she shlepped it over to Maureen, who called a few days later to ask if the offer was negotiable. "Nope," said Pat cheerfully. "Send the manuscrip back." Well, they moaned and groaned, but they met the price, and now A Love So Bold is due to swell the ranks of a genre already busting out of its bodice. So, within two weeks of Annelise turning her book over to Carl, and Carl turning it over to Pat and Pat to Maureen, there was a sizeable sale. "Gosh," said Johnes to Feeley, over a tuna fish sandwich, "Gosh, is it always this easy?" "Nope," said Pat.