HarperCollins division One More Chapter has signed two “trail-blazing” debuts following its open submission drive for stories from underrepresented backgrounds.
Through its open submissions portal, assistant editor Bethan Morgan acquired world all language rights to both books, publishing in summer 2021 in paperback, e-book and audiobook.
The first book, The Last Beekeeper by Siya Turabi, which publishes in August 2021, is “a lyrical historical novel of family, friendship, and self-discovery perfect for fans of Khaled Hosseini and Yann Martel”. It follows a boy named Hassan in 1970s Pakistan as he wrestles with a choice: find the last beekeeper and salvage a precious jar of his mythical black honey before the floods come or risk losing his mother, his community and his life.
Morgan said: “This is one of the most extraordinary books I’ve ever read, a soaring story set between the bustling courtyards of 1974 Karachi and the sprawling fictional forest and close-knit community of Harikaya, where poetry is the oxygen breathed out by the trees and in by the villagers. It strikes a mesmerising counterpoint between historical, contemporary and speculative – an increasingly insatiable trend that this book not only meets but also subverts and transcends.”
Siya Turabi, who is from a family of poets and storytellers, was born in Karachi and came to the UK as a two-year old with her parents. She was brought up in Manchester and moved to London to study biochemical engineering. After a long, winding path as a student, teacher and art therapist, she started her first novel at the age of 40 on a Curtis Brown Creative course
She said: “I'm absolutely thrilled that my debut The Last Beekeeper has been welcomed by One More Chapter – home to such a stunning world of books. I know my book is in the hands of a truly dedicated team and I'm blown away by their support, enthusiasm and attention to detail.”
The second acquisition, Sisters of Shadow by Katherine Livesey, which publishes in September 2021, is pitched as “cottagecore meets sapphic witches in a whimsical fantasy adventure that follows a young witch abducted by a legendary cult, the scarred warrior she falls in love with, and the apothecary who sets out to save her”.
Morgan said: “The brilliance of Sisters of Shadow is in the fusion of wonderfully whimsical escapism with heart-pounding action that so beautifully and nostalgically evokes old-school British YA (before it was called YA) while also weaving a fantastically fresh new world epitomised by found family and friendship forged in fire. There’s been a historic shortage of homegrown YA fantasy in the UK, especially in the digital market, and it’s been so exciting to see that paradigm start to shift.”
Livesey a YA fantasy author living in the Northumberland countryside, said: “I am overjoyed to be joining the One More Chapter family and that my debut trilogy has found such an incredible home. I have already been blown away by the enthusiasm of the team and I feel very lucky to be published alongside some truly brilliant titles.”
Publishing director, Charlotte Ledger, said: “We are focused on widening our acquisitions strategy and ensuring readers from all backgrounds are represented in the stories we publish. Our open submissions portal is just one aspect of this. In February we were thrilled to partner with Spread the Word on a publishing seminar and callout to their members and we can’t wait to see the submissions that come from that. In the meantime, we are hugely excited to welcome new authors to our list from our other initiatives.”