Hunting STRAIGHTJACKET

There’s an interesting story behind the acquisition of Meredith Towbin‘s debut novel, STRAIGHTJACKET. Since it was released yesterday (Feb 15th), it seems like a good time to share.

I began my publishing career a couple of years ago as an editorial intern. A few months into that position, I read Meredith’s manuscript (which had a very different title, back then) and fell in love with Anna and Caleb. I was sold.

As is the nature of the (publishing) beast, not all good books are offered contracts. Meredith and her agent moved on; I bravely soldiered on through the slush (it was rough at times, but it was also a job I could do in my pyjamas. I shouldn’t complain. Ahem).

A year or so later, I moved to Etopia Press to work exclusively with YA fiction  and to build my own roster. I acquired my first few authors the usual way–they approached us with their manuscripts, we loved them, and we offered contracts.  I still thought of Meredith’s novel sometimes; Anna and Caleb had stuck with me as complex, original characters always do. One might say they even haunted me a little. A Google search showed no deal reports for the manuscript and so I decided to email the agent and see if it was still available.

Then…I waited.

A week, maybe two weeks passed. I assumed the manuscript was off the table.

And then the agent replied. A few weeks of negotiation later and we had a deal for the novel that became STRAIGHTJACKET. This, readers, is a narrative so poignant that it hung around my brain until I was in a position to hunt it down and offer on it myself.

To writers: sometimes, it happens. Rejection is not always The End. Sometimes, it just takes a little longer to get the pot of gold at The End of the rainbow, and then it looks like this:

Straightjacket_ByMeredithTowbin-50pct

Eighteen-year-old Anna has lived her whole life in shame, losing herself in books to cope with crippling panic attacks triggered by her abusive parents. Forced into a psychiatric hospital, she can’t imagine a future that’s anything but bleak—until she meets Caleb, a gifted, 19-year-old artist who insists he’s an angel.

He swears his mission is to help Anna break free from her parents’ control and fulfill a destiny she can only dream of. The doctors, however, are convinced that Caleb is delusional.

Anna doesn’t want to be that girl who’s in love with the guy “with issues,” but when she sees his stunning portraits of her and the way he risks everything to keep her safe, she can’t help but imagine a new future for the two of them, filled with hope. Then just as it seems they’ve created heaven on earth, Caleb’s past emerges full force, threatening to destroy their tiny, blissful world. And Anna has to decide if she should follow her heart, or if Caleb’s really as troubled as his doctors say…

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STRAIGHTJACKET will be released in print on March 15th 2013