Michael Joseph wins five-publisher auction for 'hilarious' Luckhurst debut

Michael Joseph wins five-publisher auction for 'hilarious' Luckhurst debut

Michael Joseph has triumphed in a five-way auction for Evening Standard features editor Phoebe Luckhurst's “hilarious” debut novel The Lock In.

Editor Rebecca Hilsdon acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, in two books from Hannah Weatherill at Northbank Talent Management in a six-figure deal. The Lock In will be released in hardback on 22nd July 2021, with an early e-book on 27th May.

Billed as a “locked room rom-com”, the novel is told from the perspectives of three housemates – straight laced Alexa, chaotic Ellen and awkward Jack.

The synopsis explains: “Whilst nursing The Hangover from Hell, Ellen stumbles downstairs to find their kitchen slowly filling with water. Together with her housemates, Ellen launches a desperate attempt to find the fuse box in the attic. Hearing the commotion, Ben, Alexa’s shirtless Hinge date from the night before, comes to investigate. Only for the door to slam, the handle to break – and for all four of them to become trapped. And Ellen swears she knows him. So begins the most awkward morning-after-the-night-before.”

Hilsdon said the book was “so fun, so fresh and so achingly relatable”. She added: “It is a story about love, heartbreak and friendship, and will strike a chord with anyone who’s ever had a comically incompetent landlord. I fell for the hook and after reading the first page I knew this book was special. I can’t wait for everyone to meet Ellen, Alexa and Jack.”

Luckhurst, who has also written for the Guardian, Sunday Times Style, Elle, Vogue and others, said her book had found the “perfect home”.

She said: “Hangovers and house shares certainly defined my 20s, and I wanted to write something that explored the dynamics of love and friendship against that backdrop. Rebecca and the team have been such champions of the book and I’m so excited to be bringing it to life with them.’

Weatherill added: “Phoebe is an incredibly special new writer, and The Lock In is a brilliant, relatable novel about love, flatmates and friendship, with added early Noughties nostalgia. It’s found an excellent home with Rebecca and the team at Penguin Michael Joseph.”