Canongate has bagged the “haunting” debut novel by editor and ghostwriter Molly Aitken in a two-book deal.
Commissioning editor Jo Dingley acquired world rights, including audio, from Hellie Ogden at Janklow and Nesbit. The first book, The Island Child, will be published in March 2020.
The Island Child tells the story of Oona, born on the Irish island of Inis at the same time a boy called Felim is born on a deserted beach. The synopsis states: "Oona becomes drawn to wild Felim and his ostracised English mother, increasingly tangled in their erratic lives on the periphery of the island’s deeply Catholic and superstitious community. The gossips say the mother and son are related to the fairies, Felim is strange and otherworldly, feared and shunned, and as the years pass his hatred for the islanders and his desire for revenge drives a wedge between he and Oona. Decades later, when her own daughter vanishes, Oona is forced to face the past she tried to escape in one last attempt to build a bridge between her and her lost child.”
Aitken's second novel, Vinegar and Honey, will follow and is about rising sea levels, forgotten goddesses and examines dark Christian religious practices against women. Aitken was born in Scotland in 1991 and brought up in Ireland. She studied Literature and Classics at Galway University and has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa. She was shortlisted for Writing Magazine’s fairytale retelling prize 2016 and has a story in the Irish Imbas 2017 Short Story Collection.
Aitken said: “I'm thrilled that The Island Child will be joining the shelves with Canongate's incredible authors. It's also amazing to be working with Jo whose insights and ideas have helped me to delve deeper into the novel's themes of motherhood, loss and the healing power of stories.”
“Molly’s writing is hypnotic in its beauty and I was completely captivated by the opening scenes,” Dingley added. “I haven’t been able to stop thinking of Oona, Felim and Joyce since. To me, this is a novel about nature versus nurture, about identity and motherhood, love and duty, freedom and fate, secrets and stories and I’m delighted to be publishing it next year.”