Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Affirm acquires new picture book from Godwin, Lester

Children’s/YA acquisitions       

Affirm Press has acquired the rights to Sing Me the Summer (November), a new picture book from bestselling children’s book creators Jane Godwin and Alison Lester (pictured), which explores ‘the magic of summer and the unique wonders of all seasons’. Affirm said: ‘Celebrating family togetherness in the natural world and the small moments outside that often become our lasting memories of childhood, this book could well become an Australian classic.’

MidnightSun has acquired world rights to the picture book Ling Li’s Lantern, written by Steve Heron and illustrated by Benjamin Johnston, about a young girl and her two brothers who are entrusted with some money and sent on a quest by their father. MidnightSun founder and managing director Anna Solding said: ‘Ling Li’s Lantern reminds us that sharing what little we have is more important than accumulating material things. Heron’s story takes us to a specific place and time, but still tells a story about compassion that is universal.’ Heron is the author of the ‘Feel Safe Feel Right’ series (Nurture Works Foundation), which tackles social and emotional issues for children, as well as several nonfiction books for adults on working with children.

Adult fiction acquisitions

HarperCollins Australia has acquired ANZ rights to two new novels by Holly Ringland in a six-figure deal via Benython Oldfield at Zeitgeist Agency. The first book in Ringland’s new deal, The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding (2022), is ‘a haunting novel about exile and belonging’ and ‘about women reclaiming their bodies, resisting oppressive power, and marking themselves through choice’. Ringland’s 2018 debut The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart has been published in 29 territories with screen rights optioned by Bruna Papandrea’s Made Up Stories.

Scribe has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Laura Elizabeth Woollett’s third book, The Newcomer (May 2021), via Grace Heifetz at Left Bank Literary. Inspired by a real-life murder on Australia’s Norfolk Island, the novel examines the killing of a young woman and the devastating effect it has on her mother, with chapters that alternate between the perspectives of the two women. Associate publisher Marika Webb-Pullman said: ‘Unlike a lot of crime and true crime, the point of The Newcomer isn’t to explore a killer’s psychology or to try and understand his actions. Laura’s project in this book—as with all of her work—is to examine the myriad impacts of crime, to fully characterise the “victim”, in all her flawed humanity, and to look at the ways in which violence against women ripples out into the society that so often sanctions it.’ Woollett is the author of the novel Beautiful Revolutionary and short fiction collection The Love of a Bad Man (both Scribe).

The University of Queensland Press has acquired world rights to Adam Thompson’s debut short story collection Born into This (2021). Set in Tasmania, the collection explores Aboriginal identity and culture, sovereignty, environmental destruction, preservation of culture, and Indigenous–coloniser relations. ‘I am so excited and honoured to be bringing Adam’s powerful and accomplished writing to readers,’ said publisher Aviva Tuffield. ‘His always clever and challenging stories shed light on a distinctive world of cultural practice and perspective, with humour, insight and heart.’

Affirm Press has acquired world rights (excluding screen rights) to poet and writer Omar Sakr’s debut novel, a work of literary speculative fiction entitled White Flu. Publishing director Martin Hughes said the acquisition felt like a ‘huge win’ for the company’s publishing list. ‘I have no doubt that Omar’s exceptional writing will excite readers while his challenging and insightful perspective will provide a view of Australia from outside the established mainstream,’ said Hughes.

Adult nonfiction acquisitions

Scribe has acquired world English-language rights to the million-copy German bestseller The Diet Compass: The 12-step guide to science-based nutrition for a healthier and longer life by science journalist Bas Kast—the result of a multi-year investigation into ageing and nutrition following the author’s own health scare at the age of 40. Scribe acquired the rights to the book—which has already been sold into 20 other territories—from Penguin Random House Germany, and will publish the translation in Australia and New Zealand in July 2020, and in the UK and North America in January 2021.

Pantera Press has acquired ANZ rights to journalist Gary Nunn’s debut The Psychic Test: An investigation into the supernatural industry (2021) via Benython Oldfield at Zeitgeist Agency. A work of narrative nonfiction, The Psychic Test investigates why people in need turn to psychics for guidance in all areas of life, and how the people working as psychics have come to possess such unchecked power.


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