Trapeze has acquired "heartbreaking yet life-affirming" debut We Own the Sky by Luke Allnutt in a five-way auction.
The book's author, currently in remission from cancer, began the book after being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2013, when doctors thought it was 30% likely he would die within the next five years.
Sam Eades, senior commissioning editor at Trapeze, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to the debut, which was discovered on the slush pile by Juliet Mushens at UTA, for five figures.
Total advances from around the world add up to a high six figures, according to Mushens. Prior to the UK deal, the manuscript was pre-empted overnight for six figures in Germany, and within 48 hours of submission it had sold in more than 10 countries. Following a six-figure US pre-empt, there are auctions and deals in 22 countries and counting.
We Own the Sky is about love: between husband and wife, and between father and son. Inspired by the author’s own experiences with cancer, the novel introduces the reader to Rob Coates, a lonely man once happily married to Anna, with a beautiful son, Jack. He runs a photography website, We Own The Sky, where he posts panoramic photos of the sites he visited with his son, and tries his hardest to forget the past. But no one can escape their memories for long, and slowly we learn what he is hiding from: Jack’s cancer diagnosis, the loss of his wife, and his obsession with saving his son, against all odds. It explores how we make sense of the senseless, and asks what would you do when confronted with the unthinkable.
Eades said: "Luke Allnutt is the next big commercial fiction sensation. We Own the Sky is a soaring debut, beautifully written and with an emotional pull that will connect with all readers. We Own the Sky shows us that the relationships we form and the love we feel for others gives our lives meaning, and that every life matters. Books that evoke such a strong physical response don’t come around very often and I feel unbelievably lucky to be publishing this book."
Mushens, agent said: "When I read We Own the Sky I knew immediately how special it was - it's page turning, heartbreaking and ultimately life-affirming. I cannot wait for readers to meet Anna, Rob and Jack."
Allnutt grew up in Surrey and has lived and worked in Prague as a journalist since 1998, writing mostly about technology and Eastern European politics. In 2013, he wrote about his father’s death from a brain tumour in Unspoken, a Kindle Single for Amazon. He said: "I started writing We Own the Sky while going through chemotherapy; I wanted to create something for the people I love. All the emotion I felt from losing my father, fearing that I wouldn’t be around to watch my sons grow up, went into creating this family — Rob, Anna, and Jack — that I loved and cared about so much. I suppose the book was really a love note to my own family. It explores how people facing an unimaginable loss manage to survive, how their love for each other can endure against all odds."
We Own The Sky will be published by Trapeze in January 2018 in hardback, e-book and audio.