Orenda is to publish Sarah Sultoon's debut thriller The Source, secured in a two book deal.
The novel is described as Sultoon's response to the abuse scandals that were concealed in Rotherham and Rochdale, inspired by her previous work as a journalist.
Publisher Karen Sullivan acquired world English language rights in a deal negotiated with Jon Wood at the RCW Literary Agency. The book is currently in development for a TV series with Lime Street Pictures.
The synopsis states: "Thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Carly lives with her alcoholic mother in a squalid home, in a disenfranchised, poverty-stricken town in the east of England, taking on the care of her baby sister and dependent upon the infrequent largesse of her older brother, who lives in the local army barracks. When he offers a solution to their money problems, Carly and her teenaged friend grab it, despite her unease. What ensues is both heartbreaking and traumatic.
"In the modern day, an intrepid news team sets a trap to snare a group of sex traffickers, but their investigations are thrown off track when the police announce the reopening of a historic sex abuse case, involving a number of high-powered individuals. As the two timelines merge, the plot spirals towards an utterly chilling series of events that change everything."
Sultoon (pictured) previously worked at CNN. She said: "In 15 years as a journalist, I worked in a world where speaking truth to power, giving voice to the voiceless and holding authority to account was both a crucial and respected public service. Yet now we live in a world where journalists themselves are legitimate targets, where the facts themselves are presented as alternative, and where information is being weaponised by state-sponsored enemies of truth.
"The Source is, in part, my response to the horrific abuses originally covered up in Rochdale and Rotherham, and an attempt to hold power to account through the medium of fiction at a time when it has never been more important. I am enormously thrilled and heartened to have found a partner in Orenda, a publishing house as devoted to emotional truth as the news business is to pursuit of the facts.’
Commenting on the acquisition, Sullivan said: "This is an extraordinarily accomplished debut, with some of the most convincing dialogue I’ve ever read and a cast of incredibly memorable characters. While the subject matter is timely, sobering and immensely thought-provoking, forcing us to confront and understand the plight of so many young women who have faced abuse by the people they should be able to trust the most, it’s also a nail-biting, dark thriller – fast-paced and exquisitely tense.
"With multiple themes of corruption and abuse (of people and of power), this could be a 'worthy' read, yet it’s anything but. At its heart are powerful messages of hope, resilience and self-belief, conquering the odds, and this all combines to create a book that is the very definition of unputdownable, set in the world of news media that its award-winning, ex-CNN journalist and international news executive Sarah Sultoon knows intimately.
"The Source fits our small list perfectly, and represents the kind of bold, challenging and memorable publishing we hope to achieve. I cannot wait to publish this book, and, of course, to see how its multitudinous, fabulously rich characters and themes will translate to the screen. We are thrilled to welcome Sarah to Team Orenda."
The book will be published in 2021, with the second as yet untitled book to follow in 2022.