Pan Mac wins budding author

<p>Pan Macmillan has won a nine-publisher UK auction for the hotly contested d&eacute;but novel T<em>he Language of Flowers </em>by US author Vanessa Diffenbaugh.</p><p>Senior commissioning editor for fiction Jenny Geras, with fiction publisher Jeremy Trevathan, bought UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding ANZ) for a six-figure sum from Zoe Waldie at Rogers, Coleridge &amp; White working on behalf of Sally Wofford-Girand of Brick House Literary Agents. </p><p>The novel, which has already sold to Ballantine in the US for more than $1m (&pound;677,000), and has seen &quot;auctions breaking out in every major territory&quot;, is being compared to books such as <em>The Time Traveler&rsquo;s Wife</em> and <em>Chocolat</em>. It tells the story of a young woman, Victoria, who has grown up in a San Francisco children&rsquo;s home and been traumatised by a series of failed adoptions. She gets the chance to become a florist, and learns to help her customers through the long forgotten &quot;language of flowers&quot;, a Victorian-era form of communication in which each flower and floral arrangement conveys a specific meaning. A love story develops, while in a series of flashbacks the story of Victoria&rsquo;s painful childhood unfolds.</p><p>Geras said everyone at Pan Macmillan who read the book &quot;instantly saw a bestseller&quot;. </p><p>She added: &quot;The book has a brilliant commercial hook, but the way in which Vanessa combines that flowers theme with the darkness with which she writes about Victoria&rsquo;s troubled childhood is what made the book stand out for me.&quot;</p><p>Diffenbaugh, who has degrees in creative writing and art education, is an activist who has worked with &quot;at risk&quot; young people, including homeless and foster children. She and her husband have two young children and are also foster parents. </p><p><em>The Language of Flowers </em>will be published in hardback in the autumn of 2011, with Pan Macmillan m.d. Anthony Forbes Watson describing it as &quot;one of our lead hardbacks for 2011 and a bestselling lead paperback in spring 2012.&quot; </p>