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