Hodder & Stoughton has snapped up a "tender and moving" book of letters by writer Iain Maitland - bought within four hours of the manuscript's submission.
Dear Michael, Love Dad is the true story of the author's relationship with his son, of the devastating effects of depression and "the ways in which we all struggle to do our best by our children".
When the author's eldest child, Michael, left home for university, Maitland wrote regular letters to him: "funny, teasing, curmudgeonly letters chronicling the ins and outs of family life", full of unsolicited "hopeless" advice on everything from women to DIY. What he didn’t know was that his robust-seeming son was steadily descending into severe depression and near fatal anorexia. Only much later, when Michael was being admitted to hospital, did it become apparent to Maitland and his wife just how oblivious they had been – and for how long.
Dear Michael, Love Dad is told through a combination of the letters Maitland wrote to his son, along with a retrospective commentary that seeks to understand how it came to be that so much could remain hidden through the years.
Hannah Black at Hodder & Stoughton acquired World rights from Clare Hulton for publication in hardback in July 2016.
Maitland said: "There’s no point in writing this story unless we lay ourselves bare. It’s all in here. The depression. The laughter. The anorexia. The jokes. The hospital. The humour. The Priory. The love. All we’ve left out are the twisted testicles and the mighty buttocks. I don’t pretend to offer any answers but I hope that at least in being as honest as I can be about my experience as a parent others might get some sort of reassurance that, although sometimes our best can’t be enough, love is a good place to start."
Black said: "From the moment I began reading Iain’s funny, sad and at times confounding script I knew I wanted to publish it. There are hard subjects here but what lingers on in the memory is a sense of love and hopefulness that is profoundly moving. Life, depression and relationships are not easily explained or navigated but Iain is brave and undeterred in his attempt to make some sense of things and does so in a way that is wonderfully funny and reassuring."
Hulton said: "I submitted Iain’s wonderful proposal to Hannah at 10am on a Tuesday morning and just four hours later she had bought it in what was the quickest sale I have ever made!"
Maitland has been a professional writer since 1987. He has written over 50 books, mainly on business. He has also written for the Sunday Times, Which? and the Financial Times among others.