Sphere gains new 'superlead' author in seven-way auction

Sphere gains new 'superlead' author in seven-way auction

Sphere has signed two books from thriller writer Karen Dionne for a "significant" six-figure sum following a "heated" seven-way publisher auction.

Sphere secured UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, but including audio, to the two novels through literary agent Lorella Belli from LBLA, who brokered the deal on behalf of Folio Literary Management.

US rights were sold for a "major" seven-figure sum at auction to Putnam, and international pre-empts and auctions are currently being finalised in 10 translation territories, including Germany, Brazil, France and Poland.

The first book in the deal, The Marsh King's Daughter, is slated to be Sphere's "superlead publication" next year, being pushed around the world in July 2017. It has already been called “sensationally good” by Lee Child, “gorgeously written” by Karin Slaughter and “powerfully told” by Megan Abbott.

Belli said: "Room meets Katniss Everdeen, with a touch of Lisbeth Salander thrown in. The Marsh King’s Daughter is that elusive gem of a novel which truly seems to tick all the boxes: a relentlessly thrilling read, a fascinating concept, a unique setting, brutally honest and memorable characters, beautifully written and structured, no wonder publishers all around the world have been competitively bidding for the rights. Sphere's offer, enthusiasm and passion for it from the very beginning was exceptional on all accounts and we are delighted they are going to be Karen's UK publishers."

Sphere publisher and executive director Cath Burke said: "I am beyond delighted to have the opportunity to publish the brilliant Karen Dionne. The Marsh King’s Daughter has been a word-of-mouth sensation within Little, Brown and we can’t wait to share Karen’s beautiful, deeply suspenseful and utterly compelling writing with readers."

Dionne's previous novels include science thrillers Freezing Point and Boiling Point (Berkley), and The Killing: Uncommon Denominator (Titan Books), an original novel based on the Fox Television detective series. 

Dionne said: "I'm absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Cath and all of the wonderful folks at Sphere and Little, Brown to bring The Marsh King's Daughter to UK readers and beyond. Sharing a publisher with Val McDermid, Dennis Lehane, Mark Billingham and so many other authors I admire is a real honour."