10-way fight for ‘com­ing-of-old’ de­but novel

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Laura Fitz­Patrick

BID­DING wars are typ­i­cally re­served for best­selling au­thors, but in a twist of the nar­ra­tive one mother had 10 pub­lish­ers fight­ing over her “com­ing-of-old” tale.

Beth Mor­rey, 41, has se­cured a six-fig­ure book deal for her de­but novel, The Love Story of Missy Carmichael, which she wrote in four months of ma­ter­nity leave.

Mor­rey, who works in TV de­vel­op­ment for shows like The Se­cret Life of Four-YearOlds, struck a two-book deal with HarperFic­tion af­ter nine other UK pub­lish­ers fought for the rights to her novel.

Madeleine Mil­burn, her agent, said: “It’s very rare to get this many pub­lish­ers in­ter­ested for a first novel. It was an ex­tra­or­di­nary auc­tion. At the mo­ment, books like Eleanor Oliphant is Com­pletely Fine are do­ing so well, all pub­lish­ers want some­thing like that.”

The Harper­Collins deal is one of a hand­ful of in­ter­na­tional deals, in­clud­ing ones in Italy, Swe­den, Ser­bia and the US. The Love Story of Missy Carmichael is a “com­ing-of-old” novel about a woman who finds her­self alone as she ages. Tipped as a new genre called “up­lit”, char­ac­ters like Missy Carmichael and Eleanor Oliphant fea­ture in nov­els that are de­scribed as more op­ti­mistic than feel­good.

Ms Mil­burn said: “It’s a com­ing-of-old tale, which is a to­tally new genre. Very few books can be given to your mum, your granny and your chil­dren, it works across gen­er­a­tions.”

Mor­rey’s in­spi­ra­tion for Missy orig­i­nated partly from friends she has made dur­ing dog walks in north Lon­don.

She said: “Missy’s re­la­tion­ship with her dog and how she finds a new com­mu­nity through it is very im­por­tant.”

De­spite the bid­ding war that en­sued, Mor­rey ad­mit­ted that she didn’t think any­one was in­ter­ested in her book af­ter it took days for pub­lish­ing of­fers to roll in.

“When we didn’t hear any­thing at first, I thought ‘how ut­terly em­bar­rass­ing’,” she said. High­bury,

Beth Mor­rey se­cured a six-fig­ure deal on the strength of her ‘up­lit’ de­but novel

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