4th Estate buys Innes' novel about silencing of women and celebrity

4th Estate buys Innes' novel about silencing of women and celebrity

4th Estate’s Jordan Mulligan has made his first acquisition, Scabby Queen, by Scottish author Kirstin Innes, billed as a “state-of-the-nation novel” about the silencing of women’s voices and the celebrity machine.

Mulligan, assistant editor at 4th Estate, bought UK and Commonwealth excluding Canada, exclusive Europe rights to a second novel by Innes from Charlie Brotherstone of Brotherstone Creative Management. Publication date is slated for April 2020.

Innes' first novel, Fishnet (Freight Books), won the Guardian’s Not The Booker prize in 2015, and is currently being developed for television.

Scabby Queen opens on the 22nd January 2018 when Ruth discovers her friend Clio’s body in the guest bedroom and does not know what to do. “Before that day, Clio Campbell was best remembered as ‘the ginger lassie that sang the poll tax song on Top of the Pops’,” the synopsis reads. As the news of Clio's death spreads, the novel spreads with it: from the Isle of Skye to a squat in Brixton, from the miner’s strike to Brexit.

“It becomes an absorbing state-of-the-nation novel, told through the stories of those who loved Clio, those who hated her, and those who felt both ways at the same time. It’s a novel about the silencing of women’s voices, about the machinations of the celebrity machine, but most of all it is a novel about empathy: its motives, limits and the way it constantly shifts,” the publisher said.

Mulligan, who joined HarperCollins in its  2015 Graduate Scheme, said: “I feel so privileged to have been given the opportunity to publish this book. It is startlingly good. Kirstin has written something that is bold, ambitious and all-embracing but still manages to feel intimate and human. Kirstin is the kind of writer that 4th Estate’s reputation was built on, and I can’t think of a better first acquisition for my own list to demonstrate exactly the sort of books I want to publish.”

Innes commented: “Joining 4th Estate’s superb list is a dream – I’m not entirely sure I believe it’s happening yet. Scabby Queen is a much bigger book than my debut in every sense and was a real gamble for me; I’m so pleased that it struck a chord with the team at 4th Estate and I’m particularly looking forward to working with Jordan on it.”

Also a journalist, Innes based in the west of Scotland and has won various writing prizes.