This morning brought a story of yet another big deal from the Frankfurt Book Fair. Australian mother and small business owner Rebecca James has sold world rights to her first two young adult novels for major bucks, going from mom to millionaire overnight after her manuscript was pulled out of the slush pile by a U.K. agent. The rights to Beautiful Malice and its sequel got $600,000 in the U.S. alone, according to the Wall Street Journal, who calls James the next J.K. Rowling (because of her success story, not the subject matter of her books, which are described as "sexy, psychological thrillers" for teens). Since the days of big advances for the heck of it (or for the publicity) seem to have disappeared with the recession, this signals that Bantam Dell expects a Rowling-sized payout once the books are published. On her blog, the 39-year-old mother of four says she's "mega chuffed" to be published (gotta love the Australian vernacular!) and shares pictures of her sons and two adorable puppies.

But what's the book about? It's the story of the friendship of two girls. One has lost her sister in a horrible murder. The other is a chilling and charming party girl. The series has been described as Twilight without the vampires and with the sex.

According to the WSJ, Kate Miciak, editorial director of Bantam Books, who won U.S. rights, said, "You had only to read the opening sentence -- 'I did not go to Alice's funeral' -- to know that you had instantly fallen under the thrall of a strong narrative voice, which was going to hold you in its grip and keep you there." No firm pub date has been set (we hear the book could appear as early as May 2010), but we'll keep an eye out for more news on this YA thriller.

12.02, ETA: Looks like Bantam now has Beautiful Creatures scheduled for a September 2010 publication. (via)

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