Transworld wins nine-way auction for debut

Transworld and Random House Australia have acquired debut novel The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman, winning a nine-way auction for the title.

Doubleday editorial director Jane Lawson bought UK and Commonwealth rights jointly with Beverley Cousins at RHA through Susan Armstrong at Conville and Walsh, with auctions ongoing in the US and Europe. Transworld plans to publish as a Doubleday hardback in 2012.

The story dramatises a moral dilemma faced by a lighthouse keeper and his wife living on a remote island off Western Australia in the 1920s, who find a boat carrying a live baby beside the body of a dead man.

Lawson said: "I was stunned by its humanity and emotional scope. It is a story that absolutely broke my heart. It contains raw emotion carried by sublime storytelling, with a deft poetic touch. Rarely has the company responded to a first novel with such unanimous passion. We are utterly thrilled to have acquired it. This novel will have a lasting impact."