A debut set in the aftermath of the bombing of a US embassy in Turkey and a "Highsmith-esque" psychological suspense novel are among the books which have sold for six figures ahead of London Book Fair.
As activity before the fair next week (14th-16th March) hots up, Simon & Schuster in the UK and Canada and Scriber in the US have scooped rights to Liar’s Candle, a debut novel by August Thomas, set in present-day Turkey in the aftermath of a bomb attack on the US Embassy.
Piers Blofeld at Sheil Land Associates brokered the six figure deal for world English language rights with Rick Horgan, vice president and executive editor at Scribner, pre-empted—with Jo Dickinson and Nita Pronovost at Simon & Schuster UK and Canada, respectively. Thomas is a former Fulbright Scholar to Turkey, and holds Master’s degrees from Boğaziçi (Istanbul’s top public university) and the University of Edinburgh.
Horgan said: “Combine a scarily precocious author, a backdrop that is increasingly in the news and authentically rendered, and an intriguing “what if?”—what if a young embassy intern were pursued by a diverse group of powerful players determined to kill her?—and you have somethings special. Simon and Schuster’s three imprints can’t wait to launch August Thomas on what figures to be an extraordinary career journey.”
Meanwhile, Selina Walker at Cornerstone has pre-empted a psychological suspense novel Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall, about a man obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, for six figures. Departing from the recent trend for a female narrator in psychological thrillers, the novel is narrated by a man and has "a dark Highsmith-esque literary feel".
"The tension arises from the characters' psychology rather than plot twists per se," said Lizzy Kremer, agent for the book at David Higham.
In other deals, Mantle has pre-empted The Man Who Didn’t Call and one other book by Rosie Walsh, who has previously written as Lucy Robinson. The book is about a couple who meet, spend a week together, and fall head over heels in love. Then the man leaves, promising to call - but doesn't. Sam Humphreys, associate publisher of Mantle, pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights to two books by Rosie Walsh from Lizzy Kremer at David Higham Associates.
The novel, tentatively entitled Ghosted for the US market, sold in a "major" deal to Penguin Random House (Pam Dorman Books) in New York via Allison Hunter at Janklow & Nesbit. It has since racked up further deals in over 21 countries globally through David Higham Associates which controls foreign rights. It sold to Goldmann in Germany, following a 13-way publisher auction, and to Longanesi in Italy. More deals expected to conclude before LBF.
Simon & Schuster has acquired two new thrillers by Luca Veste, writer of the bestselling Murphy & Rossi series. The first, provisionally titled Why She Lied, is a dark twist on the psychological thriller and will be published early 2019.
Veste's latest novel, The Bone Keeper, is an edge of your seat serial killer thriller in which a childhood myth becomes reality. S&S will publish early 2018. Joanne Dickinson, publishing director at Simon & Schuster bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Philip Patterson at Marjacq.
Two books in a crime series set in Cumbria has been bought by Constable ahead of the LBF. Written by M W Craven, the first book is provisionally titled Welcome to the Puppet Show, which is the first in a new series featuring Washington Poe, a grizzled and cynical Detective Sergeant, and Tilly Bradshaw, as they investigate a series of murders that take place in and around the ancient moorlands and stone circles of Cumbria.
The deal for world English language rights was negotiated by David Headley of the D H H Literary Agency with Krystyna Green at Constable and the first in the series will be published Spring 2018.
Quercus meanwhile has signed a new deal with Jo Spain – shortlisted author of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition. Publisher-at-Large, Stef Bierwerth, acquired world English language rights to The Confession– a new standalone domestic noir thriller from the author of the Detective Tom Reynolds series from Nicola Barr at Greene & Heaton. Spain was one of the seven shortlisted authors in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition 2015.
Bierwerth said: “This latest novel, The Confession, is a new departure for Jo and it will become a crucial focus title on our list for early 2018.” It opens with a man walking into the luxurious home of disgraced banker late one night and launches an unspeakably brutal attack as his wife watches, frozen by fear. The book will be published in hardcover in early 2018.
Orenda Books has signed a dark-comedy noir from ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’, Finnish crime writer Antti Tuomainen. Karen Sullivan, publisher of Orenda Books, acquired world English Language rights for The Man Who Died in a deal negotiated with Federico Ambrosini of the Salomonsson Agency. The book features a successful entrepreneur, who, at just 37, discovers he is dying, he is shocked to learn that someone has, slowly but surely, been poisoning him. The Man Who Died will be published in Autumn 2017.
Meanwhile In young adult fiction, Sarah Stewart, Usborne senior fiction editor, has acquired World English rights to Rosie Loves Jack by debut author Mel Darbon in a two book deal with Ben Illis. The book is described as “stunningly beautiful and uniquely insightful”, and tells the story of Rosie, who has Down’s Syndrome, as she fights for the little freedoms that so many of us take for granted – independence, tolerance and love.
Stewart said: “You can’t help falling in love with Rosie and rooting for her every step of the way on her incredible journey. She’s so innocent yet strong, tackling every challenge with dogged determination and optimism. At a time when intolerance is sadly rife, this is a stunningly beautiful, one-in-a-million book that deserves to be read by everyone.”
In non-fiction, St Martin’s Press has pre-empted US rights to The Husband Hunters: Social Climbing in London and New York, by bestselling biographer and historian Anne de Courcy.
Described as "the real Downton Abbey story", de Courcy’s latest work tells of the wealthy American heiresses who came to England to marry impoverished aristocrats, so they could gain titles, and the titled could boost their dwindling coffers and save their threatened estates. Charlie Spicer snapped up the title from de Courcy’s agent, Isobel Dixon at Blake Friedmann, and will publish in 2018. Alan Samson of Weidenfeld will publish in the UK in June 2017, with the US publishing in 2018.
These deals follow debut thriller The Innocent Mistress, which Orion pre-empted after 24 hours earlier in the week.
Publishers and agents have previously tipped manuscripts which help readers escape from the angst of the political climate to be hot at this year's London Book Fair which is taking place a month earlier than usual.