Transworld has pre-empted rights to "a truly special book" titled Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips.
Frankie Gray, editorial director at Transworld, pre-empted British Commonwealth rights to the title from Kimberly Witherspoon and Alexis Hurley at Inkwell Management.
Fierce Kingdom begins in a zoo near closing time as Joan tries to persuade her four-year-old son, Lincoln, that it's time to leave his favourite place and to head home. As they rush towards the exit she realises that the firecrackers she heard earlier - and quickly disregarded - were gunshots, and that they are in horrifying danger. They run. They hide. Over the three hours that follow, Joan must use all her ingenuity and instinct to keep them safe, but must also make unimaginable choices, and reckon with the question: is there anything we wouldn’t do to protect those we love?
Gray said: "In Fierce Kingdom, Gin has given us a truly special book. I read it in one go, in the manner of the very best thrillers, and was left in awe of the emotional depth and the beauty of Gin’s writing. Through Lincoln and Joan we see how precious every moment is; this is a celebration of life in its darkest moments, a celebration of the closest relationships we cherish and the ferocity with which we will protect them. It left all of us here breathless."
Rights have now sold in "major" auctions or pre-empts in the US (Penguin Random House/Viking), France (Laffont), Brazil (Instrinseca), Norway (Cappellen Damm), Sweden (Norstedts), Holland (Ambo Anthos), Spain (PRH), Italy (Piemme), Poland (Zysk), Israel (Yediot) and Hungary (Europa Konykiado) with more to come.
Phillips said: "As the mother of a five-year-old, I realised that every story I considered writing seemed to lead back to motherhood. No other subject seemed quite so compelling or complex. No other subject had the power to move me quite as much, to terrify me quite as much, or to make me laugh quite as much. I’m so thrilled that Transworld has shared my own excitement about this book, which is ultimately about what it means to be a parent. More than that, it’s a look at the ways we are bound together, whether we are strangers or family…. It's also nice, incidentally, to feel like all the hours I’ve spent in the zoo staring at snakes or digging in sandboxes turned out to be quite productive."
Phillips grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. After earning a degree in political journalism, Gin worked as a freelance magazine writer for nearly a decade. Phillips now lives in Birmingham with her husband and children.
Transworld will publish Fierce Kingdom in hardback in June 2017.