Writer Emma Forrest is switching from Bloomsbury to Weidenfeld & Nicolson with a new memoir, Busy Being Free, billed as "a love letter to being alive or alone".
Lettice Franklin, publishing director at the Orion imprint, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Busy Being Free and an untitled novel from Felicity Rubinstein at Lutyens & Rubinstein. The memoir will be published by W&N in summer 2022 in hardback, e-book and audio.
Born in London, Forrest began her writing career as a teenage columnist on the Sunday Times, going on to have columns in the Guardian, the Independent and Elle. By 30, she had published three novels and left journalism to work in Hollywood as a screenwriter; she also penned a memoir, Your Voice In My Head (Bloomsbury). She wrote and directed her first feature “Untogether”, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Her most recent novel was the Radio 2 Book Club pick Royals (Bloomsbury).
Busy Being Free: A Lifelong Romantic is Seduced by Solitude is tipped as “a beautiful, breathtaking, unputdownable memoir about love and heartbreak, sex and celibacy, growing up and starting again”.
W&N said: “It asks: what happens when your story doesn’t end the way you thought it would? When the dream life you have been working towards becomes something you must walk away from? When you swap a Hollywood marriage and an LA mansion with waterside views, for a little attic flat shared only with your daughter, beneath the star-filled sky of deepest North London? When you find yourself not lonely, but elated—elated to be alone with yourself, who you genuinely thought you might never get to see again? When, after a life guided by romantic obsession, you decide to turn your back not only on marriage, but all romantic and sexual attachments?”
Franklin said: “I have worshipped Emma Forrest from afar for a very long time. She is one of our very best writers. Her first memoir Your Voice in My Head is a cult classic that inspires total passion from all who read it, and I feel absolutely certain that her second, Busy Being Free, will elicit the same response.
"A memoir about what it is to find oneself, in the middle of your life, at a bump in the road; about the romance to be found in leaving a marriage and starting out alone; about sex and celibacy—it has already been described by Lisa Taddeo as ‘alluring, shocking, welcome and wonderful’ and I could not agree more."
Forrest said: “I've found, in Lettice Franklin, the most generous and insightful editor a writer could hope for. And I found, in Weidenfeld & Nicolson, a publisher eager to bring me to a broader audience—exciting both as a woman in her forties who has been published since her teens and as a woman who had been alone in a flat with her kid for six months. Your Voice In My Head seemed to resonate with readers because I wrote it to keep myself alive."
She added: "Busy Being Free is a love letter to being alive/alone. In a time of global devastation, I found myself completing my most sensual and optimistic book, one that made my heart soar with each new chapter, a skylight above me and inside me.”