HQ has bought a “gorgeously written” debut novel by Canterbury Christ Church University creative writing student and former midwife Jessica Ryn about a homeless woman searching for sanctuary.
HQ commissioning editor Charlotte Mursell acquired acquired UK and Commonwealth rights for a two-book deal with Sarah Hornsley at The Bent Agency.
The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside, Ryn’s debut, will be published by the HarperCollins imprint in hardback, e-book and audio in May 2020.
“Quirky, hopeful commercial fiction with huge book club appeal, this is a book that delights and surprises with every turn,” HQ said. “With a charming cast of marginalized characters and themes of homelessness, grief, friendship and community, it’s perfect for our choppy times but also wonderfully timeless.”
The synopsis reads: “When Dawn Brightside is offered a bed in St Jude’s Hostel for the homeless, it means much more than just a roof over her head - she has been running from her past for 22 years. Finally she has found a group of people who need her and she’s determined not to let them down. But when her past finally catches up with her, will her new friends trust her version of the story, or is everything about to crumble around her once again?”
Ryn is a creative writing MA student at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her short stories have been shortlisted in competitions for Wordsmag and The Val Wood Prize for Creative Writing. As well as being a qualified midwife, she has worked in the homelessness sector, supporting people with mental health and substance misuse issues. This is her debut and she is currently working on her second novel.
Mursell said: “Jessica’s debut is the most charming, poignant and gorgeously written novel I’ve read in a very long time – one of those rare books that leaves a smile on your face and a tear in your eye. We’re beyond delighted to bring Jessica to the list and can’t wait to share her unforgettable story with readers.”
Ryn said: “I am absolutely thrilled that The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside has continued its journey beyond me and reached the capable, supportive and nurturing arms of my both my agent, Sarah Hornsley and editor, Charlotte Mursell. My story has found its perfect home with the wonderful HQ who I am so very excited and proud to be working with.”