HarperFiction has snapped up debut author and Faber Academy graduate Ella King's "beautiful, shocking" Bad Fruit in a five-way auction.
Senior commissioning editor Charlotte Brabbin won UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, in a two-book deal from Hellie Ogden at Janklow & Nesbit UK. Marya Spence at Janklow US will be handling American rights. HarperFiction will publish in hardback, e-book and audio in July 2022.
The synopsis explains: “Dark, reading group fiction at its best, Bad Fruit is an explosive portrayal of generational trauma. It tells the story of 17-year-old Lily Clarke who knows exactly how to calm Mama when she’s in a rage; she arranges her teddy bears, lays out her best lingerie and pours her a glass of perfect, spoilt orange juice. But when memories of her mother’s childhood in Singapore start to surface, Lily unravels the harrowing history casting shadows on her family, and the shattering secret threatening to unleash a darkness in Lily herself.”
Ogden said: “I took this novel on as a partial because it was so instantly clear how talented Ella is. This is a beautiful, shocking debut and I am thrilled HarperFiction demonstrated such a clear vision for publication.”
King was born to first-generation Singaporean parents and grew up in London. A graduate of Faber Academy’s "Writing A Novel" course, she came third in the Aurora Prize for Short Fiction 2019 and won the Blue Pencil Agency Pitch Prize 2019. Currently she works as a corporate lawyer in London and volunteers at anti-human trafficking and domestic violence charities.
She said: “I’m blown away by the response to Bad Fruit. It’s remarkable to see characters who’ve only existed in my mind deeply moving people in the world. I can’t thank my agent Hellie Ogden at Janklow & Nesbit enough for finding Bad Fruit its home at HarperFiction, and I’m beyond excited to work with the exceptionally talented Charlotte Brabbin to publish Bad Fruit with passion.”
Brabbin added: “From the first encounter with Mama, from her first taste of spoilt juice, I knew that Bad Fruit was something special. Bristling with delicious tension and so vivid in its depiction of the twisted mother-daughter relationship, it can’t fail to get under readers’ skin. But beneath the chilling veneer it also conveys a heart-breaking message, giving a voice to Lily in the toxic trappings of family trauma. Ella King is a hot talent to watch and I’m so delighted that she and Bad Fruit have found a home at HarperFiction.”