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Transworld acquires 'powerful first novel'

Transworld has acquired a "powerful first novel" by clinical psychologist S L Lewis, Don't Stand So Close, signing a "substantial" two-book deal at head-to-head best offers.

Publishing director Catherine Cobain bought UK and Commonwealth rights in the debut from Madeleine Milburn at the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency. Transworld will publish in early 2014, with plans to position the title for fans of Elizabeth Haynes' Into the Darkest Corner and S J Watson's Before I Go to Sleep.

The plot follows a reclusive psychologist who is forced to confront trauma from her past and secrets in her marriage.

Milburn said: "I'm thrilled with this outcome. I launched a competition earlier in the summer to get the word out that I was expanding into crime and thrillers. I chose this book out of 800 submissions because I knew it had huge international appeal." It was pre-empted by Goldmann in Germany for six figures overnight before the Frankfurt Book Fair, with Longanesi buying Italian rights, De Bezige Bij/Cargo acquiring Dutch rights at auction, and Rocco pre-empting Portuguese (Brazil) rights.

Lewis has written two non-fiction books, and has recently completed an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University.