Adam Gnuse’s “haunting” gothic debut, Girl in the Walls, has gone to 4th Estate in a six-figure deal.
Helen Garnons-Williams, associate publisher, pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights excluding Canada from Sue Armstrong at C&W. The New Orleans-born author’s first book was acquired by the HarperCollins imprint in a six-figure deal and will be published as 4th Estate’s lead debut novel in hardback in spring 2021.
“After a car accident takes the lives of her parents, 10-year-old Elise sneaks away from social services and into her childhood home in New Orleans where she haunts the new family that lives there,” the synopsis reads. “Sleeping in the attic, stealing food at night and treasuring the small lost things she finds that once belonged to her mother and father, she spends her days manoeuvring around the new owners. At first only Eddie, their 13 year-old-son, suspects someone might be hiding in their house. But when his older brother Marshall reveals that he too thinks something is stalking about in the walls, together they determine to get Elise out. Unwittingly, their attempts to cast her out bring an unexpected and far more real threat to their doorstep.”
Garnons-Williams said: “We were enthralled and deeply moved - and sometimes terrified - by Adam’s extraordinary novel ─ a story of loss, of unconventional friendships and learning that we shouldn’t always fear what we don’t understand. And Elise ─ fierce, lonely, unmoored by grief and yet wonderfully resourceful – is a heroine we believe readers are going to love.”
Armstrong added: “Adam’s incredible debut came to me on the ‘slush (talent) pile’ and I was blown away by his ability to captivate, thrill, move and shake me with his spellbinding and original storytelling. It’s a joy to see Girl in the Walls land with Helen Garnons-Williams and the exceptional team at 4th Estate.”
A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Gnuse received an MFA in fiction from UNC Wilmington and was a 2018 Kenyon Review Summer Workshop Peter Taylor fellow. His short stories have been published in various publications including the Los Angeles Review and the Wisconsin Review.
He said: “It was an absolute delight writing this novel, as it was a fun way to take back ownership of the fears we sometimes have for that unexplained bump in the dark of another room. I couldn’t be more happy to have signed with Fourth Estate, and Elise couldn’t have found a better home.”