Little, Brown and Transworld are among the latest publishers to announce pre-Frankfurt Book Fair rights deals, including a much-fought-over debut about physics, a sci-fi deal for Jenny Colgan and books from the creator of TV drama "Cold Feet".
Transworld acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, to a non-fiction debut about physics by Helen Czerski from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit after an 11-publisher auction. The publisher made a "substantial commitment" to acquire the rights.
Every chapter of The Storm in a Teacup begins with a familiar object such as a coffee stain or a glass of lemonade, which is used by Czerski as the starting point for a journey into a different aspect of the structure of the world: the gas laws, scale, time, waves and gravity.
Transworld’s Susanna Wadeson said: “Helen takes a subject that can be mind-boggling and overwhelming and makes it fascinating. He book will make us all see the world differently. There are many great writers about physics but Helen’s ability to explain her subject to the layman is exceptional, the fluency and elegance of her writing makes it a joy to read and her enthusiasm is infectious. We’re thrilled about this acquisition.”
John Glusman, editor-in-chief of W W Norton, won US rights, also at auction, and in Germany, Fischer Paperbacks won a 12-way auction for the rights. The deals were done on the basis of a proposal.
Jenny Colgan will write two books, described as “Bridget Jones meets 'The Big Bang Theory' meets 'Independence Day'” for Little, Brown’s science fiction and fantasy imprint Orbit. Tim Holman, publisher at Orbit, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to the books from the Jo Unwin Literary Agency.
Colgan will write the novels, the first of which is called Resistance is Futile, under the name J T Colgan, the same name she used for her Doctor Who tie-in novel Dark Horizons (BBC Books).
Resistance is Futile focuses on young mathematician Connie, who is recruited to work on a top secret government project along with an oddball bunch of scientists.
Holman said: “The whole Orbit team loved Resistance is Futile. How could we not love a novel that blends aliens and romance and jokes about prime numbers? We’re thrilled to be publishing Jenny, and hugely looking forward to introducing her to SF fans and readers keen to get in touch with their inner geek.”
Colgan said: “Han and Leia. Claire and Henry. Supes and Lois. I have always been an absolute sucker for a sci-fi romance, and the chance to write one for a list as innovative, successful and inclusive as Orbit is a total joy. I'm so excited to get the chance to share Connie and Luke with the world. He totally doesn't have a tail though.”
Colgan has previously written novels for Little, Brown Book Group’s Sphere imprint, including Little Beach Street Bakery and Meet Me at the Cupcake Café.
Meanwhile Little, Brown has bought two books by the creator of “Cold Feet”, Mike Bullen. Deputy publisher Rebecca Saunders bought UK and Commonwealth rights to Trust and one other book from Eugenie Furniss at Furniss Lawton.
Trust follows Greg and Dan, who both fancy themselves happily married. However, well-oiled with alcohol, and flattered by the attentions of two younger women, Greg suggests to Dan that it may be worth playing away from home just once, before they're too old to excite attention from the opposite sex. The night will have huge repercussions for both men and their wives, Amanda and Sarah, resulting in a highly complex set of affairs that are “by turns extremely funny, and quietly moving”.
Saunders said: "Mike Bullen is a kind of comic genius. I feel there’s been an absence in the past decade of high quality comedy-drama in book form and on television, given the appetite for all things dark and twisted, and so I’m hoping that we can find an eager audience out there of people who love writers such as David Nicholls and Graeme Simsion, and who miss shows like 'Cold Feet', 'Friends' and 'The Office'."
Little, Brown will be publishing Trust in Australia in April 2015 and then will publish it in the UK in early 2016.
Transworld has also acquired an “utterly charming” novel about a girl who has lived in the lost property office of Liverpool train station since she was found there as a baby in a suitcase. Editor Suzanne Bridson bought world rights to Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace from Donald Winchester at Watson Little.
Convinced by her foster mother at the lost property office that she can never leave, Martha grows up knowing only the station and its characters, from the Roman soldier to the man with the suitcase that might turn out to belong to the Beatles. She develops an uncanny talent for reuniting lost objects with their owners – but when anonymous letters start to arrive hinting at her past, Martha must use all her ingenuity to solve the mystery of her own identity.
Bridson said: “I’m really excited that Martha Lost is coming to Doubleday. This is an utterly charming, quirky novel with shades of both Amelie and Hugo, and Martha is an unforgettable character.”
Martha Lost will be published in 2016.
Finally, Faber Children's has acquired Goblin Princess, a new illustrated series based on a cartoon strip about friendship and adventure for girls aged six to eight.
Originally created by Redan Publishing and featured in SparkleWorld magazine as a cartoon strip, the first book in the series, Goblin Princess, tells the story of Princess Matty and her pet dragon Smoky.
Because goblins prefer mess and chaos, Matty is always in trouble for trying to be neat and tidy. When she finds a pet dragon called Smoky, it looks like he might be too well behaved to keep, but the two of them find they may be naughty enough to stay together after wandering off from a family picnic and encountering hobgoblins and fairies.
Rebecca Lewis-Oakes acquired world rights in a four-book deal from Redan Alchemy Ltd and will publish two books a year starting in 2016. She said: “We are thrilled to bring Matty the Goblin Princess and her pet dragon Smoky onto the Faber list.”