Arcadia Books managing editor Karen Sullivan has left the company to set up her own publishing company, Orenda Books.
Launching next week with a small, “exciting” list of commercial literary fiction, the company has already signed three début novels, including David F Ross’ The Last Days of Disco, which Sullivan said will draw comparison with Roddy Doyle and Irvine Welsh.
The publisher has also signed world English rights for The Abrupt Physics of Dying, a “riveting, topical eco-thriller set in Yemen” by Canadian–Australian author Paul Hardisty, which was signed from Broo Doherty at DHH Literary Agency.
Sullivan has also negotiated British Commonwealth rights with David Headley at DHH Literary Agency and Monica Gram at Leonhardt & Høier Literary Agency A/S for Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson’s atmospheric, gritty début thriller Snowblind, and a second title, Dark Night (Bjartur Veröld). It will be author Jónasson’s first publication in English.
Sullivan said: “There is always a market for readable, good-quality literature, and I plan to focus on literary crime/thrillers and books that have personal resonance. Translated fiction is definitely high on my wish list, as there is undoubtedly a wealth of undiscovered literature out there.”
Sullivan has secured private investment for Orenda—the name comes from a Native American word that loosely translates as “mystical power that drives human accomplishment”—and its first book will be published digitally in December, with print copies available in March.
Sullivan left Arcadia following a strategic review of the company, which has led to its 2015 list being radically reduced from 15 titles to just three, with many author contracts cancelled or postponed.
David Bernhard, who has been at Arcadia for four months, will be responsible for the publisher’s operations going forward, The Bookseller understands.
Piers Russell-Cobb, whose company MediaFund bought Arcadia in 2013 out of administration, said: “Arcadia, like many publishers at the moment, is doing a complete review of the publishing programme . . . we are now looking at an abbreviated list next year and Karen has decided to leave to set up on her own as a result of this. I wish her tremendous success.”