Orenda Books has snapped up Eve Smith's debut thriller in a two-book deal.
Karen Sullivan, publisher of Orenda Books, acquired world English language rights for The Waiting Rooms and a second book, with the working title Off Target, in a two-book deal, negotiated with Harry Illingworth of DHH Literary Agency. The Waiting Rooms will be published in July 2020.
The Waiting Rooms, described by Sullivan as a "stunning piece of speculative fiction" by Sullivan, takes place in the very near future where an antibiotic crisis has led to widespread death and a population in peril.
"Routine operations, even cancer treatment and Caesarean sections, are no longer possible and a simple scratch can be fatal. No one over 70 is allowed antibiotics, and if they become ill, they are sent to the ‘Waiting Rooms’ … ostensibly hospitals with no treatment," the synopsis reads. "There they can choose to have their lives terminated or suffer their infection and face inevitable death. A second plot line focuses on a nurse’s post-crisis search for her birth mother, which leads to a startling revelation that puts her family in danger."
Smith said: "I am so excited to be working with someone of Karen’s calibre on my debut novel The Waiting Rooms. I wanted to pitch normal family life into the aftermath of a real world crisis and, with the World Health Organisation predicting ten million deaths a year from antibiotic-resistant infections by 2050, I decided that scenario was one of the scariest. My near-future world, which legislates against the over-seventies in order to keep antibiotic resistance at bay, explores some controversial attitudes to old age and dying, inspired by my own family’s experiences."
Sullivan said: "At once a powerful page-turner, a devastatingly moving portrait of motherhood and old age, a shocking vision of our unquestionably uncertain future, and an exquisitely evocative and atmospheric journey to the wilds of South Africa, this is an eye-opening read and a simply stunning piece of speculative fiction.
"We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Eve to the team, and her wonderful debut showcases her passion, exceptional talent and impeccable research in a thriller that leaves us simultaneously breathless, terrified and wiser. The Waiting Rooms is the perfect fit for our growing list, and I feel honoured to publish this book."
Illingworth added: "I couldn’t be happier that Eve’s incredibly timely, and indeed terrifying, novel will be published by Orenda. Portraying a future that is all too believable, I believe readers will really connect with this beautifully written and moving story, and can’t wait to see it published with the passion and drive that Karen has built such a reputation around."