Author Minette Walters has praised her new publisher Allen & Unwin for its support following her decision to change direction and step into historical fiction.
The Bookseller reported Allen & Unwin had scooped rights to publish the first novel the author has written in over a decade at London Book Fair in March after delivering the manuscript on the eve of the fair.
Walters has penned 12 psychological crime novels with Pan Macmillan but has moved to Allen & Unwin, with whom she publishes in Australia, for her foray into historical fiction.
The Last Hours is set in Black Death-infested medieval England.
Walters has thanked her new publisher for “embracing” her move.
“For a publisher to embrace and support an author's change of direction - in my case from psychological crime to a novel about survival during the dark and disturbing history of the Black Death - is incredibly exciting,” she said. “I've enjoyed bringing the same analytical qualities to history as I did to crime and hope readers will find The Last Hours as compelling, suspenseful and intriguing as any of my whodunnits.”
UK and Commonwealth rights excluding Canada and Australia and New Zealand were acquired in a two-book deal by Sara O’Keeffe, editorial director of sister imprint Corvus. Allen & Unwin has been the longtime publisher of Walters' books in Australasian territories while Pan Macmillan have been Walters' longtime UK publishers. Allen & Unwin UK imprint plans to publish in hardback in November 2017.
A spokesperson for the publisher said: “Walters has been a master of crime fiction for nearly two decades. Now this extraordinary writer turns her talents in a bold new direction; a sweeping, utterly gripping historical novel set during the time of the Black Death in Dorset.”
The novel is set in 1348 when the Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe in the county of Dorsetshire and thousands of people in the county die. The Last Hours tackles the “culture of terror and superstition” which spreads through the neighbouring communities. Lady Anne decides to quarantine the demesne of Develish by bringing serfs within the walls which overturns the social order.