H&S pre-empts sci-fi debut, Crown triumphs in US auction

H&S pre-empts sci-fi debut, Crown triumphs in US auction

Hodder & Stoughton has pre-empted a commercial science fiction novel, The Space Between Worlds from debut author Micaiah Johnson, with US rights selling at auction to Crown.

Commissioning editor Sam Bradbury pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights excluding Canada to the novel. The deal was negotiated by Harry Illingworth at DHH Literary Agency, on behalf of Cameron McClure at Donald Maass Literary Agency. US rights for the debut were sold at auction to Julian Pavia and Angeline Rodriguez at Crown and they plan a simultaneous publication in spring 2020. Financial details were not disclosed. 

Pitched as a cross between “Mad Max” and Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter (Pan Macmillan) "but so much more, the novel uses the concept of multiple realities to explore social issues like race, poverty, and sexuality”, Hodder & Stoughton said.

Set in a world where travelling between parallel earths has become possible, there is just one problem in that no one can visit an earth where they are still alive, the blurb reads. Born in the wastelands outside of Wiley City, Cara is dead in all but eight of the 382 worlds that have been unlocked. Now she has got a job travelling the ‘multiverse', but the information Cara gathers on other earths reveals terrible truths about the nature of her own world meaning she faces a harrowing choice: should she risk everything she's worked for to expose the truth?

Johnson was raised in a Jehovah’s Witness community in the Southern California desert. She graduated high school at the age of 13, received her MFA from Rutgers-Camden, and is currently studying race and robots as a PhD candidate at Vanderbilt. 

Bradbury said: “I am so thrilled to be publishing this incredible, extremely commercial, high-concept sci-fi novel, with heart, intelligence and insight. I absolutely adored this book – it’s one of the most impressive novels I’ve received on submission since I joined Hodder, and I’m amazed by Micaiah’s ability to discuss real world issues whilst also never missing a beat on plot, character and world-building.”

Illingworth said: “The concept alone of this ambitious novel excited me, and Micaiah pulled it off with pitch perfect execution. This is a very special debut indeed; smart, accessible and a huge amount of fun.”

“I’ve always travelled between disparate landscapes – moving between my father’s family in Detroit, my mother’s in rural towns in Arkansas and Illinois, and the Mojave Desert I call home," Johnson said. "Writing The Space Between Worlds allowed me to capture that feeling, alternately delightful and disorienting, of being in a place where everything seems new and different.”