Avon will publish Nell Pattison's debut about a British Sign Language interpreter who becomes embroiled in a murder investigation in the deaf community.
Senior commissioning editor Rachel Faulkner-Willcocks bought world English language rights for two books from Juliet Mushens of Caskie Mushens. The first book, The Silent House, will be published in spring 2020.
The novel follows BSL interpreter Paige Northwood who becomes embroiled in a murder investigation after a friend’s daughter is found dead in her bedroom, shaking the deaf community in Humberside to its core, Avon said. "Gripping and enlightening in equal measure, the book explores a close-knit but largely unknown group, from the perspective of an author who is herself part of the deaf community.”
After studying English at university, Pattison became a teacher and specialised in deaf education. She has been teaching in the deaf community for 12 years in both England and Scotland, working with students who use BSL. She began losing her hearing in her 20s, but still refuses to wear her hearing aids, the publisher said.
Faulkner-Willcocks said: "I have never read a book quite like this. Nell takes a brilliant classic trope – a terrible crime within a tight-knit group – and uses it to shine a light on a community we all think we understand, but in reality we know very little about, bringing a brilliant new heroine onto the stage at the same time. The idea that someone could enter your home, your child’s room, without you hearing, is terrifying and electrifying: as soon as I read the opening chapters, I knew I had to publish this book."
Pattison, who is based in North Lincolnshire, said: "I'm thrilled that my novel has found an excellent home at Avon. Their vision for the book perfectly matches my own, and I’m excited to be given the opportunity to share a story set in the under-represented deaf community."
Mushens said: "I was totally entranced by Nell’s characterisation and the fresh take on a police investigation."