Orion Fiction has acquired the "wickedly funny" debut, First Time for Everything, from London Writers Award Winner Henry Fry, in a three-way auction.
Editorial director Charlotte Mursell negotiated the two-book deal for UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, with Hayley Steed at the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency.
Orion Fiction will launch First Time for Everything in hardback, e-book and audio in May 2022.
North American rights have already been sold at auction to Jesse Shuman, editorial assistant, at Ballantine, Penguin Random House US, in a joint bid with Bhavna Chauhan, editorial director of commercial publishing at Doubleday Canada. Meanwhile, television rights have been sold by Madeleine Milburn dramatic rights agent Hannah Ladds to Moonriver TV, a London-based production company. Fry will adapt his own novel for television, and be an executive producer alongside Moonriver c.e.o. Xavier Marchand and producer Casey Herbert.
Orion said: “First Time for Everything is an unflinchingly honest, poignant drama comedy about Danny Scudd, a shy, 20-something gay man who’s made it through life by not really interacting with his sexuality. For the first time in his life he sets out in search of his most authentic self (with the help of his colourful flatmates and inscrutable therapist), exploring the fun and exuberance of modern queer life, with many missteps along the way. This is a story about love, self-acceptance and working out how you fit in the world.”
Fry, a designer and writer at Greenpeace, described it as “a Millennial Bridget Jones, only gayer”.
He added: “I wanted to capture the love and light, comedy and community of modern queer life while interrogating the specific difficulties and intricacies of those experiences. Growing up, all queer stories I read or saw were characterised by violence and cruelty – I didn’t realise you can actually have an amazing life as an LGBT+ person as long as you find where you belong. “
Mursell said: “Wickedly funny and gloriously cringeworthy, First Time for Everything is a complete gut punch of a read that I gulped down in one sitting. Henry has that rare ability to make your skin shrivel and your heart burst in the very same line – I knew as soon as I started reading his extraordinary and utterly refreshing debut that I had to publish it. We couldn’t be more thrilled that Henry has chosen Orion Fiction to be his publishers.”
Fry was longlisted for the PRH Write Now scheme in 2016 and won The Literary Consultancy’s Free Reads Award for new LGBT+ voices in 2017. In 2019 he was a recipient of the London Writers Award programme and his writing has appeared in international magazines, websites and apps as well as on toilet cubicle walls. He has also performed as a spoken word artist at events.