Chatto & Windus has triumphed in a hotly-contested eight-way auction to publish an "extraordinarily brave" memoir about faith, loss and addiction.
Poppy Hampson, editorial director at Chatto & Windus, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Original Sins by Matt Rowland Hill from Sophie Lambert at C&W. Rights have also been sold to Atlas Contact in Holland, HarperCollins Canada and Kein und Aber in Germany.
Rowland Hill grew up the son of a minister in a strict Baptist church in south Wales and then south-east England but after a "devastating loss of faith" in his late teens, he turned to literature in search of answers before developing a gradual but growing relationship with alcohol and drugs.
"Matt became addicted to crack and heroin in his early twenties, an addiction that stretched over a decade and culminated in a period of hopeless darkness," reads the synopsis. "After weeks in hospital and then months in rehab – a Christian organisation that forced him to confront the religion that he had spent his adult life running from – Matt has now been sober for four years. Original Sins is an extraordinary memoir – it’s a story of faith, family, loss, shame and addiction, but ultimately it’s about survival, growing up and learning to live."
Hampson said: "Original Sins is breathtaking. Thrilling and intense, it is a brave, dark and sometimes desperate story – but, crucially, it is also full of compassion and understanding and even humour. Matt has found a way to take his life story and turn it into a book that helps us understand our own lives better. He is an astonishingly good writer and we are so delighted to be publishing his book and launching a very exciting career."
Rowland Hill, who now works as a copywriter and occasional book reviewer, most recently for the Guardian and Literary Review, added: "When I wrote the earliest material for this book – in rehab, with a Bic biro (having sold my laptop for heroin) – I did so to try and understand why my life had reached such a point of crisis. Back then, I never dreamt that my writing would find a publisher, let alone one as distinguished as Chatto & Windus. I'm humbled and excited to be working with such a wonderful team, and I'd be overjoyed if my book could provide some comfort and inspiration to readers who are struggling with the kinds of questions that prompted me to begin writing it."