Thriller trilogy Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by British debut writer Chloé Esposito has been pre-empted by Jessica Leeke at Michael Joseph.
Faber Academy graduate Esposito attracted unprecedented interest from 21 agencies before signing with a global team of agents led by WME partner Simon Trewin. The trilogy has since sold in six countries, with reported interest from Hollywood; and it is believed that the closed deals now run into multiple seven figures.
First in the trilogy Mad, due to publish June 2017, is set between London and Sicily over one “crazy" week. It reveals the lengths an identical twin will go to not only steal her sister’s perfect life - but to keep on living it. Pitched as "a heady mix of sex, lies, twists and murder”, Alvina Knightly’s sibling rivalry escalates into the ultimate crime in what is "an explosive and deliciously addictive high-octane read”.
Esposito attributed her "incredibly naughty” protagonist - perhaps "best described as Bridget Jones gone bad” - to literary inspirations and “great anti-heroines” Lady Macbeth to Amy Dunne, as well as "anti-heroes” Iago and Highsmith’s Tom Ripleyas.
Bad and Dangerous to Know will be two standalone books that follow with the same central character. The entire trilogy will be published over the next 18 months.
WME’s Trewin said: “Chloé is the real deal and a major brand in the making and her central character, Alvie, is complex, challenging and instantly gripping. The momentum behind this project is simply incredible and we are all working hard to help Chloe reach a global market not only in books but also in film and beyond as soon as possible.”
Within a day of a co-ordinated global submission, Trewin had turned down two pre-empts in the UK. The next day key foreign territories fell into place and Trewin accepted Leeke’s “major" UK pre-empt from Michael Joseph at 10.45pm on a snatched day of family holiday.
“It is the first time I have closed a deal standing in the middle of a pitch-black field in Devon surrounded by bleating sheep, with my author at a wedding in Aberdeenshire while an editor tries to cook dinner for 22 guests at her sister’s hen party in Somerset - but it seemed somewhat fitting because it was 1st April and because nothing about this book is what one expects!” said Trewin.
Following the UK deal, WME’s Erin Malone accepted a major pre-empt in the US from Maya Ziv at Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House, and pre-empts have now been accepted in half a dozen territories with ongoing auctions and offers in as many again.
Leeke said: "Mad whipped around the Penguin office like an electric current. In Alvie Knightly, her witty, badass and refreshingly uninhibited anti-heroine, Chloé has conjured an utterly iconic new voice. Her novel has fuelled the kind of excited chatter and debate that only accompanies the very best in brand new entertainment. This novel is like nothing else out there, but it’s impossible not to compare Alvie to those other great anti-heroes: Amy Dunne, Tom Ripley and Patrick Bateman. Enhanced by Chloé’s brilliant comic timing, Alvie’s appetite for life pushes every boundary going and results in the most fun, liberating and searingly modern reading experience. This will be a major hardback launch for Michael Joseph in Summer 2017.”