Rachel Neely, commissioning editor at Trapeze, has made her first acquisition for the company with debut novel Wet Paint by Chloë Ashby.
The two-book pre-empt for UK and Commonwealth rights was agreed with Emma Finn at the C&W Agency.
Slated for spring 2022, Wet Paint is described as an "insightful and incisive" exploration of depression and trauma, following Eve, a 26-year-old waitress, as she is forced to confront the fallout after her best friend’s suicide.
Ashby is a freelance writer and editor, and a graduate of the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her short fiction has appeared online on the Fairlight Books website – and will be in its forthcoming anthology – and will feature in the next issue of The London Magazine.
Neely said: "This kind of smart, timely and upmarket women’s fiction is exactly what I have been looking for since arriving at Trapeze Fiction. Our list is dedicated to conversation-starting books, with Millennial and Gen-Z readers in mind, and Wet Paint perfectly fits that brief. I was absolutely blown away by Chloë’s brilliantly nuanced depiction of a number of mental health issues and I’m beyond thrilled to welcome her to Trapeze."
Ashby said: "I’m thrilled to be working with Rachel and the team at Trapeze, whose reactions to Wet Paint left me in a happy daze. I’m also hugely grateful to my agent Emma, without whom none of this would have been possible. I loved spending time with Eve – on her clear days and her cloudy days – and I can’t wait for readers to meet her."
Finn added: "Chloë has written such a frank and empathetic novel about how we reconcile ourselves with grief and guilt – or how we fail to – and the way Rachel connected with it blew us both away. Seeing her ambition for this debut and the engagement from the whole team at Trapeze was such a pleasure and I couldn’t be happier that they will be guiding this book to publication."
Wet Paint will be published in hardback, trade paperback, e-book and audio in spring 2022.