A flurry of publisher announcements just ahead of the Frankfurt Book Fair has seen new deals for Virago, Century and John Murray Press. In children's, Hot Key Books and Egmont have also announced new deals
Century has pre-empted an “astonishing true story of a woman who possesses an extraordinary gift”, in what it describes as a "major" acquisition.
Penguin Random House UK chair Gail Rebuck and Cornerstone m.d. Susan Sandon acquired UK rights to The Light Between Us by Laura Lynne Jackson from Elizabeth Sheinkman at WME in the UK. Gina Centrello, president of the Random House Group, acquired North American rights from Jennifer Rudolph Walsh at WME.
Jackson is a psychic medium, able to converse with souls from the other side and “impart a magnificent understanding that helps us to live more beautifully in the here and now”.
She discovered her gift as a young woman, but kept her abilities hidden from her very normal, suburban life. By day she taught high school English and cared for her three children while at night, she would speak privately on the phone with celebrities, athletes, scientists and more, connecting them with loved ones who had passed away and “conveying information with shocking accuracy and insight, building a bridge beyond the accepted bounds of human experience”.
The Light Between Us combines stories from Jackson’s experience with the science behind her abilities. Eben Alexander, author of Proof of Heaven, will write a foreword to the book.
Rebuck said: “Laura’s intelligence and insight shines throughout this book. As well as the remarkable story of her life and case histories of incredible intensity, she sets out the most persuasive description of the science behind paranormal phenomena. I cannot ever remember a book proposal affecting five very different senior women in the publishing industry with such power and promise.”
The Light Between Us will be published in 2015 by Spiegel & Grau in the US by publisher Julie Grau and by Century in the UK.
Meanwhile John Murray Press has acquired two new books by psychology writer Matthew Syed. Nick Davies, m.d. of John Murray Press, bought world rights to The Black Box: How to Turn Failure into Success and one other book from Jonny Geller at Curtis Brown.
In The Black Box, Syed will argue that success is not about talent, motivation or intelligence, which “are often trivial and sometimes even counter-productive”, but is more about a positive attitude to failure. Syed’s previous book was Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice (Fourth Estate), which looked at the secrets behind the success of sportspeople.
Davies said: “Bounce marked the arrival of a bright new talent in non-fiction: a fresh voice in the ‘smart thinking’ field, who was using sport to explore broader life lessons. Matthew’s new book, The Black Box, not only confirms his skills as a writer, but it broadens his range too — from sport in to business, from politics to healthcare, from aviation to innovation. It is a positive book about failure, with truly global appeal.”
Syed said: “I am really excited about The Black Box. The notion of learning from failure has many subtle and surprising dimensions that impact upon almost every area of human development. The book will explore pressing issues facing businesses, parents, and politicians, but also attempt to reinterpret big picture areas like cultural evolution and the nature of consciousness. Sport will also play a part.”
John Murray will publish The Black Box in September 2015.
Finally Virago has acquired an “unforgettably powerful” novel by McKitterick Prize winner Ginny Baily. Associate publisher Ursula Doyle bought world rights, including translation, to the untitled book from Nicola Barr at Greene & Heaton.
The book follows Chiara Ravello, who in 1943 is about to flee occupied Rome for the safety of her grandparents’ house in the hills. She locks eyes with a woman being herded onto a truck with her husband and their young children, and in that moment claims one of the woman’s children as her own nephew.
Three decades later Chiara lives alone in Rome, seemingly content, but haunted by the shadow of Daniele, the boy she rescued from the truck. As the havoc Daniele wrought on Chiara, her family and her friends is revealed, Chiara receives a phone call from a teenager called Maria, who claims to be Daniele’s daughter.
Doyle said: “This epic novel is an unforgettably powerful, suspenseful, heartbreaking and inspiring tale of love, loss and war’s reverberations down the years.”
Baily previously wrote Africa Junction (Harvill Secker), which won the McKitterick Prize in 2012.
Judy Clain has acquired the book for Little, Brown US and Virago has accepted a pre-empt from Italy.
Virago will publish the book in August 2015.
Also in children's, Hot Key books has acquired two debut authors ahead of the Frankfurt Book Fair; Jess Vallance and Oskar Jensen.
Vallance is a freelance writer and the author of Birdy, a thriller about an all-consuming friendship between two teenage girls. Hot Key acquired the world rights in a two-book deal from Jo Williamson of Anthony Harwood.
Jensen is the author of Nordic fantasy The Yelling Stones, set in the Danish court of Jelling. Also in a two-book deal, Hot Key acquired world rights through Stephanie Thwaites of Curtis Brown and Christopher Little of the Christopher Little Literary Agency
Jensen is a historian and a post-doctoral researcher at King's College London.
The Yelling Stones will be published in paperback in April 2015, with Birdy following in paperback in July 2015.
Egmont has acquired a “brilliantly funny” teen fiction series from debut autor Katy Birchill.
The first book in the series, which is for young teens aged 11+, is entitled The It Girl and is about a girl called Anna Huntley. Two more titles will follow in 2016.
Lindsey Heaven, editorial director at Egmont, bought world rights from Jo Hayes from Bell Lomax Moreton, following a “hotly contested” auction.
Heaven said Birchill is a “huge talent”, with a “witty and original voice”, and the books are perfect for fans of Holly Smale and Louise Rennison.
Birchall is currently the editorial assistant at Country Life magazine.