MJ wins auction for 'nerve-shredding' Middleton debut

MJ wins auction for 'nerve-shredding' Middleton debut

Michael Joseph has acquired When They Find Her, an "emotional" and "nerve-shredding" debut about a mother who has lost custody of her young daughter.

The book is editorial director Clio Cornish's first buy for the Penguin Random House imprint since she joined, securing UK and Commonwealth rights in the debut plus a second novel by author and barrister Lia Middleton in a "major deal" done via Kate Burke at Blake Friedmann at auction.

When They Find Her, described as "fiendishly twisty read with huge depth" by commissioning editor Cornish, centres on Naomi, a mother who has lost custody of her young daughter. She is granted permission to have her child back for an overnight stay, but when the night ends in tragedy Naomi makes a split-second decision with huge repercussions. 

It will be a major launch for Michael Joseph, the publisher has said, publishing in hardback, e-book and audio in spring 2021, with a paperback to follow.

Middleton is a barrister specialising in crime and prison law. She commented: "I’m ecstatic and honoured to be working with Clio and the team at Michael Joseph. I was blown away by the team’s passion and enthusiasm, and by Clio's vision for the book: it was clear from the moment I spoke to her that Clio was the perfect editor to bring my novel and its characters to the world. I can't wait for readers to discover Naomi and to find themselves thrust into the centre of her dark and complex life."

Cornish added: "I was utterly transfixed by When They Find Her. At once a white-knuckled page-turner and an emotional depiction of motherhood and mental health, it’s fiendishly twisty read with huge depth—not an easy balance to strike. I know Lia has a brilliant career ahead of her, and I’m so excited to be working with her and Kate."

Burke said: "I’m thrilled that this deliciously dark, gripping and topical novel has found such a great publishing home in Penguin and such a visionary editor in Clio."