HarperCollins will publish a debut novel, A Woman of War by midwife Mandy Robotham, along with three other titles, following its first open submissions scheme which opened in February.
Along with Robotham's "heartbreaking and uplifting" tale, the Avon editorial team also snapped up The Widow Next Door, by Pennsylvania-based high school teacher and writer L A Detweiler, along with self-published author Jane Gilley’s The Woman Who Kept Everything and The Man I Fell In Love With by Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA)-winner Kate Field.
The HarperCollins imprint, which publishes commercial fiction across digital and paperback format, reached out to aspiring writers in February, asking them to email novels directly to its editing team. The open submissions window remains open with no current plans to close it, an Avon spokesperson said.
Avon's lead title, A Woman of War, follows the story of midwife Anke in wartime Germany and is slated for digital publication in December, with a paperback to follow in the spring.
Editorial assistant Molly Walker-Sharp bought world all-languages rights to Robotham’s debut, described by the publisher as "a gritty tale of courage, betrayal and love in the most unlikely of places", in a deal directly with the author.
Walker-Sharp said of Robotham’s book: “I was absolutely gripped by A Woman of War from the very first word – we’re immediately launched into the throes of life in the camps, and it makes for harrowing reading. Mandy writes with authenticity, profundity and real grit, and has written a story that is both heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure as it explores the extremes of human nature. This is historical fiction at its very best and I am certain it is something that readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz will love.”
Robotham, a practicing midwife who holds an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University, said: ‘I'm very excited about finally being able to see my first novel in print with Avon. It's been a real labour of love, combining my passion for birth with a fascination for the resilience of those in wartime. I've been an avid reader all my life, and a would-be writer since school age; the idea that others might want to flip the pages of a tale to come out of my head is just a dream come true."
She added: "Avon Books has helped me realise that dream with a real belief and enthusiasm for A Woman of War."
The three other titles were acquired by Avon editor Katie Loughnane who bought world all-languages rights from the the authors directly. They will be released as e-books between this month and next January, with paperback formats to follow.
The Widow Next Door has been described by Avon as “the most chilling of new crime thriller books that you will read in 2018” which follows a pair of newlyweds getting to know their neighbours in what they hope to be their ‘forever home’. Detweiler is an author and an English teacher, based in Pennsylvania, in the northeastern of the US. Gilley has previously self-published five children’s books with The Woman Who Kept Everything her first adult novel - billed as “The Lady in the Van” meets The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Avon and focusing on a 79-year-old hoarder. Finally, Field's novel, The Man I Fell In Love With, follows Mary Black whose life is transformed when her husband of 20 years falls in love with another man. Her debut, The Magic of Ramblings (Accent Press), won the RNA's Joan Hessayon Award for new writers last year.