Orion has acquired Sleeper 13 from self-published thriller writer Rob Sinclair.
Inspired by Islamic State’s child recruitment techniques, the book tells the story of a child who is smuggled to the Middle East from his London home to be trained as an elite militant soldier.
Ben Willis, senior commissioning editor at Orion Publishing Group, acquired world all language rights from the author directly to publish with Orion Fiction in summer 2018.
The book's protagonist is a character Willis said would challenge readers. He is "forced to do things no child should do, for a cause he couldn't believe in" and, unlike his brothers in arms, is "looking for a way out" on the eve of a deadly terrorist attack.
Sinclair said the book came about after he read an article about so-called Islamic State’s child recruitment techniques.
"Every year, hundreds of children as young as eight-years-old are trained by ISIS in desert camps, before being sent to fight in battle, often barely into their teens. It got me thinking: what happens if these children survive to become adults? With almost two decades worth of elite battle training and experience by the age of 30, what would they be capable of? And what if one of those kids grew up to reject a life of terror, before breaking free? That’s when my protagonist, Aydin – and the idea for Sleeper 13 – formed in my mind," Sinclair explained.
Sinclair is the author of the Enemy series and James Ryker series of espionage thrillers, which have sold nearly half a million copies to date according to Orion.
Willis said: "In Sleeper 13 Rob challenges readers’ expectations of what a hero really is. Can a young child who is born into terror, and raised to kill, ever find redemption? When do we become responsible for our actions – indeed, are we ever truly responsible, or simply products of the adults who raise us?"
He added: "Character-led, globe-trotting action thrillers are having a moment, and the breathtakingly original Sleeper 13 is going to shake up the thriller scene once more."