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Books / Plot Pointers: How a P.I. Got Booked

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It's typical for an editorial assistant to hop from publishing house to publishing house on the way up. But Anchor Books assistant Amy Gray had to abandon the lit business altogether to make it: The Brown graduate ditched the publishing world in favor of a position at a private-investigations firm. "I thought she was going to be writing their newsletter or something," recalls Gerry Howard, her former boss, now an editor at Broadway, who had the unnerving experience of reading about Gray's action-packed career in the Post one recent morning. Within days, he received a second surprise, from the Gernert Company's Betsy Lerner, another former colleague, who sent over a book proposal chronicling Gray's transition from Xerox jockey to girl gumshoe. "The Charlie's Angels remake is beginning to bubble up into the collective consciousness," says Howard. "It's very, as we say, of the moment." Gray's proposal "played into daydreams a lot of us have," says Ann Campbell, another former colleague and a college classmate of Gray's, who proceeded to bid on the book for Broadway. "You're working in cubicleland. We've all been there." Villard outbid Gray's former employers, snapping up SpyGirl for $150,000 and creating watercooler conversations throughout publishing. "It's a great turning-the-tables tale," says Campbell. "Suddenly your old bosses are strategizing about how much money they're going to pay you when you were making a fraction of that in the trenches." Gray, whose book has just been optioned by Warner Bros. for a TV series, admits to "a bit of a sweet-revenge feeling." Says Doubleday editorial assistant Chris Min: "I'm sure there are people with writing ambitions who took it very much to heart. But her circumstances were so different -- it's not like you can quit and go to a dot-com and write a book about it."


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