Orbit acquires debut 'data-ghost' tale

Orbit acquires debut 'data-ghost' tale

Little, Brown Book Group imprint Orbit has acquired Smartface, a high-concept debut thriller by Bristol-based author Heather Child.

Senior commissioning editor Jenni Hill acquired world rights in two crossover novels from Julie Crisp of the Julie Crisp Literary Agency, and Smartface will be published by Orbit in summer 2018. 

A dystopian tale exploring what might happen if people continue to accumulate so much data online, it tells the story of a woman whose virtual assistant takes on the personality of her missing sister, shedding new light on a missing persons case from years before. 

Child said: "With intelligent assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa becoming commonplace, I wanted to look at what might happen if we willingly handed over control of our lives to algorithms that know us better than we do ourselves. It’s hugely exciting to be working with Orbit on this data-ghost story."

Crisp said: "Heather’s visionary tale of futuristic technology set against the emotional tale of a girl’s search for her lost sister is a brilliant fusing of high-concept ideas with a commercial storyline. With Orbit’s success with authors such as Claire North and M R Carey, they are the perfect home for this exciting new author."

Hill added: "Smartface is a startlingly brilliant and probably (worryingly) quite accurate vision of the future, with completely engaging characters who simply carried me through the novel from beginning to end in record time. The book is so accomplished it is difficult to believe it is a debut, and I know that readers, reviewers and booksellers will be likewise blown away by the talent on show here."

Hill herself has been newly promoted to senior commissioning editor at Orbit, having been commissioning editor since 2011. Orbit publisher Tim Holman said: "Jenni’s commitment to her authors and our publishing has been outstanding".