In a bit of creative deal-making, agents Peter McGuigan and Stephen Barbara, at Foundry Literary + Media, closed two deals—for an adult novel and a YA novel—around a debut thriller that was initially submitted as a standalone novel. The pair sold Geoffrey Girard’s Cain’s Blood at auction to Stacy Creamer at Touchstone and simultaneously closed on a YA version of the novel, Cain XP11, with Courtney Bongiolatti at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Both deals—the adult one drew a six-figure advance, while the YA one drew high five figures—were for North American rights.

Girard teaches high school English at an all-boys private school in Ohio and initially submitted an adult thriller—Barbara called it a high-concept “dark techno-thriller about blood”—to the agency. The agency was quickly pulled in by the work which, when it was initially submitted, was told from the perspectives of two characters—a 15 year-old-boy and an former Army Ranger.

When Barbara and McGuigan began working with Girard, they realized they could have two books on their hands, instead of one, by splitting the narratives and creating standalone books centered on each narrator. As Barbara explained, “It became clear to us that this writer's story had two unique iterations—one adult and one YA.” With that in mind, the pair asked Girard to rework his story, and then the agents focused on selling both works to different divisions at one house, with McGuigan handling the adult sale, and Barbara the YA one.