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Little, Brown splashes out on Irish debut
20.04.11 | Charlotte Williams
Little, Brown has become the latest publisher to sign a hefty advance for a debut novel, snapping up two novels by debut Irish writer Kathleen MacMahon for £600,000.
Senior editor Rebecca Saunders and Little, Brown c.e.o. Ursula Mackenzie joined forces with their Hachette US counterparts Jamie Raab, Grand Central's executive vice-president and publisher, and senior editor Helen Atsma, to pre-empt world English rights in two novels from Marianne Gunn O'Connor.
The first novel, So This is How It Ends, written by RTE journalist MacMahon, is an "Irish love story", says Gunn O'Connor. She added: "It's a weepie; it's about the financial crisis in 2008 as it comes to Ireland, and a man who comes looking for his roots, who meets a 38-year-old unemployed architect and they fall in love. They are forced to deal with the hand that's dealt to them."
Saunders said: "It is a very rich story told with a beautiful simplicity . . . The tremendous reader reactions from my colleagues in Australia, Ireland, America and the UK certainly attest to its power and originality. We see it as a love story for our times."
Sphere will publish in hardback in 2012, with the second title provisionally titled Learning Backwards.
Gunn O'Connor has just "two minutes ago" closed a further deal for the two books for a "very good six-figure" sum with Droemer Knaurr in Germany.
She told The Bookseller: "It [the size of the deal] makes authors important again and books important again, because publishers, the trade, were very nervous about advances . . . Publishers need good books to survive in this business too. Rebecca was incredible; I will always go for the passion."
This follows Simon & Schuster's £500,000 advance last month for American author Karen Thompson Walker's debut, The Age of Miracles.