Taylor Stevens terms her process for writing The Informationist (Crown), which received a starred review in PW, "akin to pray and spray: I had absolutely no idea what I was doing."

The results belie that remark: the novel is the first in a three-book deal acquired via Stevens's agent, Anne Hawkins of John Hawkins & Associates, reports Crown executive editor John Glusman. He recalls, "The manuscript spread like wildfire through Crown's sales, marketing, and publicity departments. Our marketing manager saw the protagonist as a cross between Jason Bourne and Lisbeth Salander." Rights have sold in Russia, Germany, Italy, Poland, France, Australia, and Japan.

The title character and protagonist, Vanessa "Michael" Munroe, collects information for corporations, government agencies, and private clients. She's hired to locate the missing daughter of an oil tycoon who vanished in Africa four years earlier. (Like the author, the protagonist lived in Africa as a child.)

The 38-year-old Stevens lives in Dallas these days, with a "day job" as the mother of two children. She explains, "Having been born into and raised in the Children of God, an apocalyptic cult that didn't believe in education beyond sixth grade, made for limited career options when I did finally get out." She says Munroe isn't a representation of herself, but "there are touches of me in her: among them, having no home to return to and always being the outsider looking in."