Michael Joseph has won a new debut thriller, The Chalk Man by C J Tudor, in a nine-way publisher auction.
The book, due to publish on 11th January 2018 in hardback and e-book, is narrated by "Eddie" who receives a chalk drawing of a stick figure that hurtles him back to an innocent childhood game 30 years before which went terribly, terribly wrong. As history begins to repeat itself, it seems the game was never really over.
Publishing director Maxine Hitchcock acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, including Canada, to The Chalk Man in a two-book deal agreed with Madeleine Milburn at the Madeleine Milburn Agency.
The book is the fastest-selling debut in the agency's history, according to Milburn. Since auction, 27 territories have sold across the globe, including in the United States.
Its author, a freelance copywriter based in Nottingham, said the book was about "the darker side of childhood, the repercussions as an adult, and the idea that no one is ever entirely innocent". C J Tudor was inspired to write The Chalk Man after her own child drew a series of chalk figures on her driveway, and later that night opened the door to find chalk men everywhere, creating an eerie atmosphere.
Hitchcock said: "There is just one word for The Chalk Man: Wow. Quite how C J Tudor has come up with something so spellbindingly brilliant in her first novel is beyond me. Every single person at MJ was riveted, male or female, young or old. The Chalk Man has all the ingredients to become one of the great contemporary thrillers, sitting alongside gems such as Michael Marshall's The Straw Men and any of Stephen King's classics. C J Tudor is a superstar waiting to happen."
Milburn added: "It’s been absolutely exhilarating to see the whole world get as excited as we are about C J Tudor’s exceptional debut. Her talent is extraordinary and I’m equally thrilled about what I’ve read from her second book. We have a major brand in the making."
Tudor's next psychological thriller, about the reappearance of a woman 20 years after she disappeared, was a winner of Twenty7's national writing competition.