HQ has secured a debut novel from Polly Crosby through a “significant” six-figure pre-empt within two days of submission for summer 2020.
Clio Cornish, commissioning editor at the HarperCollins imprint, acquired The Illustrated Child in a two-book deal for a significant six-figure pre-empt within 48 hours of submission. She acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to by Polly Crosby, excluding Canada, from Juliet Mushens at Caskie Mushens
North American rights were pre-empted by Laura Brown, editor at Park Row Books, who agreed to a six-figure deal with Jenny Bent at the Bent agency, working on behalf of Mushens.
The Illustrated Child will be published in the UK and North America in summer 2020 in hardback, e-book and audiobook.
Last year, the manuscript was awarded runner-up in the Bridport Prize’s Peggy Chapman Andrews Award for a First Novel. In 2018 the author won the Curtis Brown Creative’s Yesterday Scholarship, established by author Felicia Yap, which enabled Crosby to finish her novel.
The novel follows Romilly, a girl who lives in a sprawling old house with her father, an eccentric artist.
HQ said: “Practically feral but loved beyond measure, Romilly is happy – and her childhood is magical. But when her father starts suffering from early onset dementia, she realises that the children’s picture books which made him famous contain a hidden treasure hunt – set just for her, and leading to a deep-rooted secret about their past.”
Cornish said: “Polly’s debut is book club fiction at its best: compelling, transporting, and incredibly poignant. It has a certain timelessness – readers who love classics like I Capture the Castle will adore it – and I defy anyone to follow Romilly and her father’s relationship without a lump in their throat.”
She added: “Polly is a wonderful writer who truly takes you on a journey; within hours of Juliet’s submission the whole team were enchanted.”
Mushens said: “I read The Illustrated Child in one sitting: it’s a breathtaking achievement to create a voice and character like Romilly’s and I am delighted that the teams at HQ and Park Row feel as strongly as I do about the book.”
Brown described the novel as “a deeply imaginative and emotional read − a remarkable debut”.
Crosby grew up on the Suffolk coast, and now lives in the Norfolk countryside. She currently holds the Annabel Abbs Scholarship at the University of East Anglia, where she is studying part time for an MA in Creative Writing whilst working on her second novel.