Gene Hackman, Ray Davies, and Moon Zappa made the news this week in the world of books

By Matthew Flamm
Updated November 06, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

A STROKE OF GENE Character actor Gene Hackman, collaborating with friend Daniel Lenihan, has written his first novel, a maritime adventure set in the early 1800s called Black Star Rising. ”It’s in the vein of Patrick O’Brian,” says literary agent Noah Lukeman, who recently submitted the novel to publishers.

LOST GENERATION It’s been a good week for first novels at Delacorte. The imprint just inked a six-figure deal with Moon Zappa, the 31-year-old daughter of Frank Zappa, for America the Beautiful, ”a funny, fresh girl book,” says Delacorte/Dell editor in chief Leslie Schnur. The company also paid a rumored $200,000 for Linda Nichols’ While You Were Out, after the film rights sold for $1 million, and bought Andrew Pyper’s Lost Girls (described as ”Primal Fear meets The Shining”) as part of a rumored $250,000, two-book deal.

BROADWAY BABY Holt, whose chief executive, Michael Naumann, left in September to become Germany’s minister of culture, has a new chief: John Sterling, former editor in chief of Broadway Books. Though Naumann was known for overspending on authors (like Salman Rushdie), whose books did not always earn out, Sterling thinks the venerable house can attain financial success. ”On the backlist, there’s Robert Frost; on the front list, there’s Sue Grafton,” he says. ”There’s a great range.”

HE’S REALLY GOT IT Veteran Kinks rocker Ray Davies, who’s currently readying his one-man show, Come Dancing, for Broadway, has just sold his first short-story collection, Waterloo Sunset. ”Ray thinks of it as a concept album on paper,” says Hyperion executive editor Leigh Haber, who acquired the book for an undisclosed sum. Look for both the book and the show next spring.