HarperNorth has acquired a "sparkling" debut memoir about compulsion from Lauren Brown, the first non-fiction title to be picked up by the imprint from its open submissions.
Jonathan de Peyer, senior commissioning editor, acquired world all language rights for Hands: An Anxious Mind Unpicked directly from the author who is from Billingham, County Durham. The book will be published in hardback, e-book and audio in January 2022.
The publisher said: "When an unexpected, life-altering mental disorder upended writer Lauren Brown’s life, she knew the only way to get to the root would be to find the thread and start following it back. What emerges is not only an attempt to redirect the anxiety that’s pooled in her fingertips for as long as she can remember — released in odd bursts in caravan parks, on the north-east coast, in school assembly — but a journey towards forgiveness, acceptance and a love-song to the north.
"With immense skill and dexterity, Hands tackles Lauren’s dermatillomania: a form of OCD resulting from stress, anxiety and other negative emotions. It explores her relationships with her parents, neighbours, sibling and friends; brings to life the time and place she grew up in; and examines her fears, hopes and obsessions. A coming-of-age story about how we are all shaped by our upbringing and the people we share it with, this poignant and heartfelt book will find a ready readership with anyone who has wrestled with geographic and emotional dislocation but ultimately prevailed."
De Peyer said: "Lauren’s debut sparkles with wit and insight. I knew from the very first moment I read it that I wanted to bring Lauren’s writing to a wider audience. It’s a funny, relatable story from a young writer with a big new voice. It also displays an extraordinary degree of self-knowledge and candour, in much the same way as do I Am, I Am, I Am (Tinder) and Lowborn (Chatto). I’m looking forward to giving a copy to everyone I know."
Brown added: "This book has lived and raged inside me for a long time and it's a dream come true to finally turn these stories, experiences and observations into something I hope will resonate with others. I'm a big believer that humour can be found in the darkest of places, and if even one person enjoys my writing that would make me very happy. I can't think of a better home for the book than HarperNorth."
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