Sphere has won an auction for debut thriller writer Vanessa Savage in a six-figure deal for two books. First in the deal, The Murder House, will publish in early 2019 as a "lead" title for the publisher.
Commissioning editor Lucy Dauman bought world English rights to Savage's debut The Murder House plus a second psychological thriller at auction from Juliet Mushens, co-founder of Caskie Mushens Ltd. The six-figure deal was done jointly with Millicent Bennett, executive editor at Grand Central Publishing in the US. German rights were sold at auction in a six-figure deal to Droemer, and there are offers in France and Spain. Czech and Polish rights have also been snapped up.
According to Sphere, The Murder House combines "haunting" atmosphere with "breathtaking tension" in its portrayal of a family in crisis. It follows Sarah and Patrick, who move with their two children to Patrick’s old family home on the Welsh coast after Sarah has a breakdown. To Patrick, the house is a symbol of his idyllic childhood and the perfect place for a fresh start. To everyone else, it’s known as "the Murder House" because of the family who were slaughtered there. Soon Sarah starts to feel that the ghosts of the past are changing the man she loves – and that the house is concealing secrets Patrick has been hiding his whole life.
Dauman said: "The moment I started reading The Murder House I was hooked. Vanessa combines haunting atmosphere with breathtaking tension in this dark portrayal of a family in crisis and a house in which terrible things have happened. As soon as I finished reading it, I just wanted to go back and start all over again. This is a very special thriller indeed and I couldn't be more excited about publishing it."
Mushens added: "The reaction when I sent The Murder House was immediate – it's utterly chilling and a real page turner, one you stay up far past your bedtime to finish."
Savage is a graphic designer and illustrator and lives in South Wales. She has twice been awarded a Writers’ Bursary by Literature Wales, most recently for The Murder House. She also won the Myriad Editions First Crimes competition in 2016.