The inside scoop on the book world -- Britney Spears and her mother Lynne are co-authoring a book, while Ethan Hawke has penned a new book

By Matthew Flamm
Updated December 15, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

Mario Puzo is back: On the heels of Omerta, which seemed to be the last word after The Last Don, the late novelist’s agent, Neil Olson, has sold Puzo’s nearly finished novel about the 15th-century Borgia family to HarperCollins imprint ReganBooks. The Borgias ”make The Godfather look tame,” says publisher Judith Regan, who paid about $1 million. ”It was… a perfect thing for him to write about, because they were in many ways the first crime family of Italy.” Puzo had finished most of the novel before his death in 1999, but ”a few chapters,” says Regan, will be completed by the author’s companion and fellow novelist, Carol Gino. The pub date is fall 2001.

Starring in a modern-day Hamlet and being married to Uma Thurman apparently aren’t enough: Ethan Hawke has written another book. The actor has sold his second novel, a romantic road story called Ash Wednesday, for a reported mid-six figures to Knopf. ”I would say this book delivers on the promise we saw in such abundance in (Hawke’s first novel) The Hottest State,” says his editor, Jordan Pavlin. Hawke is holding on to Ash‘s film rights. ”If it’s going to be made, he’s going to make it,” says his agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh.

Britney Spears and her mother, Lynne Spears, have inked a reported $1 million two-book deal with Random House Young Adult imprint Delacorte Press. The first is an inspirational mother-daughter tale, out in May 2001.