Although the Frankfurt Book Fair doesn’t get underway until next month--the annual trade show kicking off in Germany on October 19--a handful of big deals have already closed. Among the titles gaining early buzz in the run-up to the fair are two novels acquired in six figure deals late last week.
At the center of one of these deals is Gin Phillips’ Beautiful Things. The book was sold, PW has heard, for upwards of $850,000, to Laura Tisdel at Viking. However Kim Witherspoon at Inkwell Management, who represented Phillips, declined to comment on the advance.
The thriller, by the author of The Well and the Mine (which was published by Hawthorne Books in 2008 and won a Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction), is set over the course of three hours and follows a mother who finds herself trapped in a zoo with her young son and an on-the-loose gunman.
Witherspoon, in her pitch letter, said the novel examines the experience of being a mother "by catalyzing it with suspense.” She added that the thriller is what you might have "if Michael Crichton had written a book about motherhood.”
The other novel to fetch a significant advance last week is The Chalk Man, by British author Caz Tudor. The psychological thriller was bought in a two-book, U.S. rights, deal, for six figures, by Nathan Roberson at Crown. Though the Penguin Random House division also declined to comment on the advance, Roberson confirmed that the book has been acquired in a flurry of foreign deals; to date, it has sold in 25 territories (including the U.S.), mostly in preempts. Among other countries, deals for it have closed in the U.K., Germany, France, and Spain.
PW secured agent Madeleine Millburn’s pitch letter, which said the book will appeal to fans of Stephen King and Harlan Coben.
Millburn, who has an eponymous shingle in the U.K., confirmed in her pitch letter that Tudor is a debut author; she is a freelance copywriter based in Nottingham, and was one of the winners of a Bonnier-sponsored contest called Twenty7, that offers professional feedback to writers who submit unpublished manuscripts.
Tudor was one of five finalists in this year's contest with her thriller, The Residents. That manuscript, Roberson said, will serve as the basis for the second book in the Crown deal. The title of the novel though, Roberson noted, is currently a "working" one.
The Chalk Man follows a young boy named Eddie who begins drawing chalk figures as a way to communicate with his friends. The drawings lead to a grim discovery when the group of friends stumble on a dead body. The book alternates between 1986 and the present day, when an adult Eddie is unnerved by an the arrival of an ominous package containing a piece of chalk and a drawing of a stick figure.