Journalist Stig Abell has signed a three-book deal with HarperCollins, including his crime fiction debut and one non-fiction title.
Commissioning editor at HarperFiction Kathryn Cheshire and publishing director at HarperNonFiction Jack Fogg signed deals for the books with Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown.
The first novel in the two-book fiction deal for UK & Commonwealth rights, including Canada, will be published in hardback in spring 2023 and called Death Under a Little Sky. It will be followed in 2024 by the non-fiction title, A Useful Idiot's Guide to the Universe, for which the publisher acquired world English rights.
Death Under a Little Sky follows a former detective who leaves the city in search of a simpler way of life in the English countryside. But his rural idyll is disrupted when he learns of the suspicious death of a young woman in the isolated community.
Cheshire said: "I was so excited when I read Death Under a Little Sky for the first time. It’s wonderfully atmospheric, with characters I instantly warmed to, and it feels quite different to anything I’ve read recently. I’m thrilled to be working with Stig on it – he’s a hugely talented writer and I know this is the start of a long and successful career in crime fiction."
A Useful Idiot's Guide to the Universe is billed as "a wide-ranging, hugely entertaining and informative guide to the universe and how it works, by a man who knows absolutely nothing about it – but is willing to ask the right people to find out the answers".
Fogg said: "I’ve long admired Stig’s work as a journalist, broadcaster and author and this project suits his huge array of talents and skills down to the ground. He has a remarkable ability to make difficult concepts and theories understandable and relatable – and be very entertaining in the process – and I’m very much looking forward to passing myself off as an expert once Stig has done all the hard work."
Abell is the former managing editor at the Sun and editor at the Times Literary Supplement. He is now a presenter on the Times Radio breakfast show. Commenting on the deals with HarperCollins he said: "One of my favourite things in the world is reading crime fiction. And writing it has been a dream of mine since I first discovered Sherlock Holmes and Poirot when I was a child. So you can imagine how thrilled to my very core I am to have my detective novels published by HarperCollins. I love the company, its ethos and its editors, so I am doubly thrilled that my non-fiction will reside here too. My next book will answer the question ‘how can someone who only did one science GCSE understand how the world works?’ I can’t wait to play my role of useful idiot in finding out."
Summerhayes said: "Stig is a proper crime fiction geek so it seemed only natural that he would want to try his hand at writing some before long and I’m thrilled that the wonderful HarperCollins team shared my enthusiasm for his uniquely brilliant take on the detective novel. Obviously not content with writing only fiction, he threw in another fantastic non-fiction idea to boot… books, they’re like buses… but better."