Gollancz has acquired This Fragile Earth and an untitled second novel from actor Susannah Wise.
Publishing director Marcus Gipps bought world all-language rights, including audio and translation, from Laura Macdougall at United Agents. The first title is scheduled for publication in spring 2021.
This Fragile Earth is set in London in the near future. Signy and Matthew have only stayed together for the sake of their six-year-old son, Jed. One day, the technology that runs their world stops working. They are unable to use their phones, pay for anything or even open the smart door to their flat. Then the electricity and gas are cut off, soldiers are on the streets and London is no longer safe. An incident sends Signy and Jed on the run, desperate to escape to the small village where Signy grew up, but she has no idea what is waiting for them outside the city.
Gipps said: "I fell in love with Susannah’s writing and her characters who, despite the near-future setting, feel absolutely of the now. The book updates the end of society atmosphere of a classic John Wyndham with modern characters and technology, but at its heart and soul is the relationship between a mother and her son. I can’t wait for readers to meet them."
Wise added: "I’m beyond thrilled that Gollancz and Orion have given me this opportunity to publish my first novel, and am indebted to Marcus Gipps in particular, for taking a chance on me as a debut writer."