HarperCollins has pre-empted a “captivating” debut novel set against the backdrop of the 1960s music scene by Emma Brodie, executive editor of Little, Brown's Voracious imprint in the US.
Senior commissioning editor Charlotte Brabbin pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) for Songs in Ursa Major, from Peggy Boulos Smith on behalf of Susan Golomb at Writer’s House. North American rights were pre-empted by Jennifer Jackson of Knopf within days of submission and international rights have been sold in Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. Film rights to the novel have also been snapped up by Village Roadshow Pictures.
The synopsis says: “Songs in Ursa Major is a sweeping, captivating love story set against the heady rock n’ roll backdrop of 1969, partly inspired by the relationship between Joni Mitchell and James Taylor. It tells the story of two singer-songwriters, folk legend Jesse Reid and prodigy Jane Quinn, and the connection that binds them together—even through Jesse’s drug addiction, the sexism of the music industry that treats Jane as a sidebar to Jesse, and the secrets they keep from each other.”
HarperCollins will publish the novel in hardback in June 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Joni Mitchell’s classic album "Blue".
Brabbin said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have acquired Songs in Ursa Major for HarperCollins. Compelling, heart-breaking and full of authentic flavour of the rock n’ roll era, it taps into the appetite for stories based on real-life figures so brilliantly, whilst the intense chemistry between the characters makes them unforgettable in their own right. Jane Quinn is a magnetic heroine for our times, and I’m so thrilled we get to be part of the movement to make Ursa Major the soundtrack of the summer in 2021.”
Brodie has spent 10 years in book publishing, working at Trident Media Group, William Morrow and Clarkson Potter, where she authored over 20 gift books and games.
She said: “I'm so honoured that Songs in Ursa Major has found such a wonderful home in the UK—there was truly an umbilical cord between London and Laurel Canyon in the 1960s and '70s. You can hear it in the early work of James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, both huge inspirations for this novel.”
Golomb added: “We’re thrilled to have found such a perfect home in the UK for Emma’s debut. HarperCollins is publishing some of the most exciting new voices in fiction these days, and we know we are in great hands with Charlotte at the helm—she loved the book from the moment she started reading and moved swiftly to pre-empt rights. We’re excited for UK readers to be swept away into the rock n’ roll world of the 1960s and '70s that Emma so vividly recreates.”
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