Poet Lee-Houghton signs with Morbid Books for first novel

Poet Lee-Houghton signs with Morbid Books for first novel

Costa Prize winning poet Melissa Lee-Houghton has signed a publishing deal for her first novel with London-based independent press Morbid Books.

That Lonesome Valley is a crime thriller set in London’s literary community that contains fictional scenes of violence and hard drug use. 

Publisher Lewis Parker, who acquired world rights directly from the author, described the novel as "sensational" and added he did not understand why "the major publishers hadn’t offered a writer of Melissa’s renown a six or seven figure sum".

Lee-Houghton was announced as a Next Generation Poet by the Poetry Book Society in 2014 and won the Costa Prize in 2016 for her collection Sunshine (Penned in the Margins). Her work, which includes three more poetry collections, has been supported by the Royal Literary Fund and the British Council. 

Morbid Books was started by Parker in 2015. Last month, the publisher unveiled a membership scheme enabling readers to join the “Temple of Surrealist Literature” via Patreon. Members of the “congregation” receive books as soon as they come off the press for a discounted price, exclusive in-house publications, and items of clothing branded with misanthropic slogans such as their popular “Make Peckham S**t Again” hats.

Morbid Books will only print 500 numbered copies of That Lonesome Valley by Lee-Houghton, half with a colour cover designed by the graphic artist Shane Wheatcroft, the other half black and white—a nod to the dual personalities who narrate the book. The first 100 will be signed by Lee-Houghton.