Orion has bagged the "visceral, sharp and achingly funny" debut of Kirsty Capes, a 26-year-old marketer at HarperCollins.
Careless is an "upmarket, timely, feminist story and a hyper-realistic account of the UK care system" and the first acquisition for the company by Charlotte Mursell, editorial director at Orion Fiction. Mursell struck a two-book deal for world rights through Anwen Hooson at the Bird Literary Agency.
Pitched as a "raw and big-hearted celebration of female friendship and enduring hope against all the odds", Careless shines a light on the realities of the care system, as well as a woman’s rights over her own body. The novel follows Bess, who is in foster care and pregnant at 15, and her friend Eshal, who is trying to break free of an impending arranged marriage, during a hot, oppressive summer in 1999.
Capes was the H W Fisher Scholar at Curtis Brown Creative, was chosen for the Penguin Write Now scheme and was shortlisted for the TLC Pen Factor Prize 2018. She recently completed her PhD – which investigates female-centric care narratives in contemporary fiction – under the supervision of 2019 Booker Prize-winner Bernardine Evaristo. She is a care leaver herself and an advocate for reform to the UK care system and better representation for care-experienced people.
Mursell said: "Every so often you read a book that knocks you sideways and changes the way you look at the world forever – and this is it. Careless wrapped me in its sticky, gritty clutches from the very first page and never let me go. Visceral, sharp and achingly funny, it’s like nothing I’ve ever read before. Kirsty is a phenomenal talent, I’m beyond thrilled that she has chosen Orion Fiction as her publisher and that we can share her story with readers around the world."
Capes said: "I am ecstatic that Careless has found its home with Orion. The novel at its core is about how difficult, brutal and unforgiving life can be for teenage girls, especially when the odds are stacked against them. From my first conversation with Charlotte I knew she was the perfect editor for this story, as she so intuitively understood the experience I was trying to capture on the page. I'm looking forward to introducing readers to Bess with her help, as well as my agent Anwen, and the rest of the incredible publishing team at Orion Fiction."
Hooson added: "A coming-of-age story like no other, Careless is as fresh as they come. Tonally, I was immediately reminded of 'Derry Girls'—and Bess shot straight into my list of ‘Top 10 protagonists’. At 26, Kirsty is an immense talent, and I’m delighted she’s going to be published by Orion Fiction, which presented a stunning vision for the book."
Careless will be published in hardback in May 2021.