Amazon Publishing has bought a “captivating” debut novel about a secret letter sown into a German concentration camp uniform in its first deal with literary agency Caskie Mushens.
The two-book contract with nurse-turned-author Anna Ellory saw editorial director of the e-retailer’s publishing arm Laura Deacon snapping up world English rights from Juliet Mushens at Caskie Mushens. Audible has bought English audio rights to the first title, The Rabbit Girls, with Dutch rights pre-empted overnight, as well as further pre-empts in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Serbia and an auction in China, with more deals expected to follow.
The Rabbit Girls is due for publication next summer through Amazon’s women's fiction imprint Lake Union and the second, as yet untitled novel, will be published in summer 2020.
The Rabbit Girls is billed as “a sweeping love story” set between 1940s and 1980s Germany. When a young woman discovers a uniform from Ravensbrück Camp in Germany in her father’s belongings containing hidden letters sewn into its seams, she sets out to uncover the identity of the letter writer, and so unravel the mysteries of her father’s past - and unlock the story of ‘The Rabbit Girls’. Ravensbrück was a concentration camp exclusively for women during the Second World War, based in northern Germany, around 90km north of Berlin.
Deacon revealed she was captivated by The Rabbit Girls “from page one”.
“At its heart it is a novel about the enduring bonds of love, and the strength of women who find hope and unity in the most harrowing of circumstances,” she said. “We are really looking forward to bringing this stunning novel into the world.”
Mushens, who formed Caskie Mushens with Robert Caskie in January last year, said: “Laura is an incredibly dynamic editor, with so much vision and ambition for this book.
"This is the first time Caskie Mushens has done a deal with Amazon Publishing, and this is the perfect book to kickstart our working relationship: the international response to the novel has been sizeable and I’m excited to take it to a global audience."
Ellory is based in Bath and is a nurse, currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa university.
She said: “I’m thrilled that The Rabbit Girls has found such a good home with Lake Union Publishing. My hope is that the book will live on in the hearts and minds of readers for years to come and I believe Amazon Publishing have the passion and talent to make it happen.”
Director of Amazon Publishing EU, Dominic Myers, added: “Laura’s enthusiasm for The Rabbit Girls has been nothing short of infectious. We are delighted to welcome Anna to the Lake Union family.”
The deal comes hot on the heels of Amazon’s crime and thriller imprint, Thomas & Mercer, signing two new books from Claire McGowan, author of standalone thriller The Fall (Headline) and the Paula Maguire series.
Last month it emerged that the internet company’s publishing arm was breaking into non-fiction in the UK through imprint Little A and had been “keen to explore quality non-fiction from UK authors for some time”, according to Deacon.