Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Latest acquisitions: Fiction

Affirm Press has acquired world rights to One Divine Night by Mick Cummins, the winner of the 2023 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award (VPLA) for an unpublished manuscript, in a deal brokered by Jane Novak Literary Agency. One Divine Night is ‘a gritty and compelling novel exploring homelessness, independence and the ties that bind’, according to the publisher. It follows protagonist Aaron Peters as he becomes estranged from his family, addicted to heroin, and ends up living on the streets of Melbourne but yearning for a different life. One Divine Night will be published by Affirm Press in late 2023.

Allen & Unwin (A&U) has acquired ANZ rights to Search History, the debut novel by Melbourne writer Amy Taylor. Described by A&U as ‘a compelling and hilarious’ send-up of modern dating and sex both on- and offline, Search History is about a woman’s obsession with her new boyfriend’s seemingly perfect dead ex-girlfriend. ‘Think a modern version of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca reimagined for the age of social media by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.’ An adapted chapter of Search History was selected as a winner in the 2021 Ultimo Prize. Search History will be published in May 2023.

A&U has also acquired world rights to Trish Bolton’s debut novel Life ItselfRights were acquired by A&U publisher Jane Palfreyman and executive editor Genevieve Buzo. Life Itself is a novel about grief, family, female friendship, ageing and ageism, told from the perspectives of four women aged between 40 and 80 who are reappraising their lives in the wake of an unexpected loss. The novel will be published in the first half of 2024.

Echo Publishing has acquired world rights to debut novel That is All by Liam Murphy via the NAC Literary Agency. The novel follows young Australian Mark Ward’s quest for redemption in a road trip across the United States, retracing the footsteps that his father, who abandoned Mark as a child, chronicled in letters to his mother 20 years earlier. That is All will be published in early 2024.

Echo Publishing’s parent company has acquired world all-language rights to Tattooist of Auschwitz author Heather Morris’s forthcoming novel Sisters Under the Rising Sun. Margaret Stead, publisher at Zaffre and Manilla Press at Bonnier UK, acquired rights directly from the author in a two-book deal. The novel is based in the experiences of women whose family members Morris has met. Morris says: ‘Sisters under the Rising Sun tells the story of a group of women from Australia, England, the Netherlands and beyond, who were captured by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1942 and held in brutal conditions in a camp in the Indonesian jungle. Sisters under the Rising Sun will be published by Echo in October in trade paperback, ebook and audio, with simultaneous publication in the UK by Zaffre Bonnier Books and the US by St Martin’s Publishing Group.

Hachette has acquired world rights to literary novel Cool Water by Myfanwy Jones, in a deal negotiated by Jacinta di Mase Management. Following the story of a family over three generations, Cool Water explores themes of family secrets, intergenerational violence and trauma, redemption, colonisation, consumption, and the myth of progress and the destruction of natural landscapes and waterways. The novel is set to be published in 2024.  

Hachette has also acquired ‘dark and decadent’ debut fantasy Tonight, I Burn by Aotearoa New Zealand-based author Katharine J Adams. The book about ‘a thorn witch with the power to walk between the realms of Life and Death’ who finds herself at the centre of a magical rebellion—and a dangerous romance—that could destroy her coven and her soul is described as ‘lush and romantic, witchy and wonderful’ by the publisher, which says it will appeal to fans of Leigh Bardugo, Kerri Maniscalco and Chloe Gong. The book will be published locally in November 2023.

HarperCollins has acquired ANZ rights to the novel At the Foot of the Cherry Tree by scriptwriter Alli Parker, in a deal brokered by Clare Forster of Curtis Brown. Described by the publisher as ‘a stirring story of love and hope arising from the ashes of Hiroshima’, At the Foot of the Cherry Tree is based on the true story of Parker’s grandparents, Australia’s first Japanese war bride and her Australian husband. At the Foot of the Cherry Tree will be published by HarperCollins in August 2023.

HarperCollins has acquired ANZ rights to debut novel After the Forest by Kell Woods, in a two-book pre-emptive deal brokered by publisher Roberta Ivers and Tor Books. Set in the Black Forest of Wurttemberg during the mid-17th century, After the Forest is, according to the publisher, a ‘stunning, dark and compelling meld of love story, fairytale, magic and history, sure to appeal to fans of Naomi Novik, Bridget Collins and Kate Forsyth’. After the Forest will be published in late September 2023 through HarperCollins imprint Harper Voyager, with the second novel to follow in 2024.

HarperCollins has also acquired world rights to A Woman of Courage by Tania Blanchard in a two-book deal brokered by publisher Roberta Ivers. Set in the last decade of the Victorian era, A Woman of Courage is a ‘gripping, uplifting story of passion, love, loss, and tenacity as women fight for their voices to be heard, inspired by Tania’s family’s history’, according to the publisher. A Woman of Courage will be published in November 2023, with a second novel to follow in 2024.

Pantera Press has acquired world rights for the debut novel Everyone and Everything by Nadine J Cohen, who is represented by Stacey Testro International. A tale of ‘family, mental health and inherited trauma told with humour and humility’, the novel is pitched by Pantera as ‘perfect for fans of Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason and A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing by Jessie Tu’. The novel will be published in the second half of 2023.

Penguin Random House Australia (PRH) has acquired world rights to the novel The Other Bridget Jones by Rachael Johns in a two-book deal, agented by Helen Breitwieser of Cornerstone Literary. The Other Bridget Jones combines elements of romance and commercial women’s fiction ‘in an irresistible story of female friendship, romance and the healing power of books’, according to PRH. The Other Bridget Jones will be published in early 2024, with a second book to follow.

PRH has also acquired ANZ rights to Question 7 by Richard Flanagan via PRH publisher at large Nikki Christer. Question 7 melds fiction and nonfiction, ‘beginning at a love hotel by Japan’s Inland Sea and ending with a river in Tasmania’, says PRH, adding that the story ‘is about the choices we make about love and the chain reaction that follows’. Question 7 will be published in Australia and New Zealand in November 2023.

Puncher & Wattmann has acquired world English rights (ex USA & Canada) to two novels by Blue Mountains–based writer Jen Craig: forthcoming work Wall and the 2016 Stella Prize-listed Panthers and the Museum of Fire, as well as world rights to her formerly out-of-print debut Since the Accident, via Martin Shaw from Shaw Literary. Wall will be published in Australia and the US in May 2023.

Scribe Publications has acquired world English rights to Naked Ambition, a new novel by Robert Gott. Described by the publisher as a ‘playful’ novel, Naked Ambition explores the collision of art, politics, religion and gender in present-day Australia. Scribe is set to publish Naked Ambition in May 2023.

Scribe has also acquired world English rights to the novel Bird Life by New Zealand author Anna Smaill via Will Francis at Janklow and Nesbit, reports BookBrunch. Smaill was longlisted for the Booker Prize and won the World Fantasy Award for her 2015 debut The Chimes. Bird Life is set in Toyko and is described by Scribe as a ‘lyrical, ambitious, magical realist exploration of madness and what it is like to experience the world differently’.

Simon & Schuster Australia (S&S) has acquired the debut novel Where Light Meets Water by Susan Paterson. Described by the publisher as a ‘moving’ debut traversing 19th-century London, Melbourne and the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand, Where Light Meets Water follows sailor Tom Rutherford as he pursues his three great passions: the sea, his painting, and headstrong artist Catherine Ogilvie. The novel is set to be published in May 2023.

S&S has acquired a new novel by Hannah Richell, The Search Party, and a further untitled novel in a six-figure pre-emptive deal struck with Sarah Lutyens and Lutyens & Rubinstein. S&S UK publishing director Clare Hey bought UK and Commonwealth rights in a joint acquisition with Cassandra Di Bello at S&S Australia. Described by the publisher as ‘suspenseful, escapist commercial fiction for fans of Anna Downes, Jane Caro, Dervla McTiernan, Lucy Foley and Lisa Jewell’, The Search Party will be published in 2024.

S&S has also acquired world rights to Legally Blak, the debut novel by Teela Reid, a Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman and co-founder of Instagram account @Blackfulla_Bookclub, via Jane Novak. The novel follows strong, independent Wiradjuri lawyer Babagin, as she navigates life as a blackfulla in the Australian legal system based in Sydney with the support of her tiddas and continuing connection to her mob. Along the way, she is propelled on a journey to find love while she grapples with keeping her connection to country and fulfilling her cultural obligations to her people. ‘Delving into the spaces between Black and white Australia, Legally Blak will explore the power that comes from the joy of First Nations women who are not afraid to be a catalyst for change,’ says S&S. The novel will be published in March 2024.

Text Publishing has acquired world rights to Amanda Lohrey’s new novel The Conversion, via Lyn Tranter of Australian Literary Management. The Conversion follows Zoe, who leaves Sydney for a small town in a winemaking region to pursue her partner’s dream of converting a run-down sandstone church into a house. Text will publish The Conversion in November 2023.

Transit Lounge has acquired world rights to The Rewilding, the second novel by Donna M Cameron, via Fiona Johnson at Beyond Words Literary Agency. ‘The Rewilding captures the essence of what it means to be alive today in this cusp of change pulsing with possibilities,’ says publisher Barry Scott, who describes the novel as ‘many things—an electrifying cat and mouse chase thriller, an odd couple love story with great characters and an exploration of hope in the face of climate grief. It’s rare to come across such a page turning thriller that sits in the literary upmarket sweet spot.’ The Rewilding will be published in March 2024.

Transit Lounge has also acquired world rights to All You Took From Me by NSW author and doctor Lisa Kenway in a direct publisher-to-author deal. ‘This is a dark, twisty thriller that immediately had me hooked,’ says Scott, who also describes the writing as ‘fiction with the pulse dialled up’. The thriller follows the story of ‘an anaesthetist who loses her memory and her husband in a car accident and becomes convinced that an anaesthetic drug might open her mind to lost memories.’ All You Took From Me will be published in August 2024.

Ultimo Press has acquired world rights to Lowbridge, a debut crime novel by Canberra author Lucy Campbell, as part of a two-book deal, via Martin Shaw of Shaw Literary in ‘a keen auction’. Shaw said he was ‘transfixed’ by the novel, which concerns the mystery of a schoolgirl who goes missing from a small NSW town in the late 1980s, with a contemporary timeline featuring a grief-stricken woman who finds out about the case shortly after moving to the area. Lowbridge will be published in Australia and the UK in July 2023.

Ultimo Press has also acquired ANZ and UK rights to two new novels by Katherine Brabon, in a deal via Clare Forster at Curtis Brown. In Body Friend, the narrator leaves the hospital after an operation and starts swimming in a pool in Melbourne’s inner suburbs. There she meets Frida, a woman uncannily like her in her experience of chronic illness. Soon after, she meets another woman in a local park, Sylvia, who sees her pain and encourages her to rest. Body Friend will be published in late 2023.

Ultimo Press has acquired ANZ rights to Melbourne-based writer Pip Finkemeyer’s debut Sad Girl Novel in a two-book deal via Claire Friedman at Inkwell Management. The publisher describes Sad Girl Novel as ‘an insightful, relatable exploration of finding your path in life and the pursuit of a bright future—whether that be in your careers, your relationships or with your friends and family’. Ultimo will publish Sad Girl Novel in October 2023.

Ultimo has acquired ANZ rights to Twelve Steps to a Long and Fulfilling Death, a ‘whip-smart comedy’ debut by television drama writer Sarah Smith, in a two-book deal brokered by Catherine Drayton at InkWell Management. Twelve Steps to a Long and Fulfilling Death is due for publication in the second half of 2023.

Ultimo has also acquired world English-language rights to a novel from Sophie Masson, writing as Sophie Beaumont, in a deal brokered by Margaret Connolly of Margaret Connolly & Associates. The Paris Cooking School is ‘a treat for the soul, a delectable novel about love, hope and the consolations of the perfect strawberry tart’, says Ultimo. The Paris Cooking School will be published in 2024.

UQP has acquired world rights to The Sitter, a new novel by Angela O’Keeffe, from Shaw Literary. Described by the publisher as ‘startlingly accomplished and multilayered’, The Sitter is about a woman writing a novel based on Hortense Cezanne, the wife of the celebrated painter. As the two women start to connect in unexpected ways, the balance between writer and subject shifts, and the parallels between their lives come into focus: the limitations of their gender, the need to reclaim one’s own story and the sacrifices made for art. The Sitter is set to be published in August 2023.

UWA Publishing (UWAP) has acquired ANZ rights to Graham Akhurst’s young adult novel Borderland, via Danielle Binks of Jacinta di Mase Management. Set in Brisbane and the fictional rural town of Gambari in western Queensland, Borderland explores issues of urban youth identity, cultural connection, land rights, fracking and its ecological impacts, through protagonist Jono as he begins to understand his place in the world. Borderland is set to be published in the second half of 2023.

Pictured: Teela Reid.


Category: Think Australian rights