Pan Mac nets 'remarkable' Scrivenor crime debut in two-book deal

Pan Mac nets 'remarkable' Scrivenor crime debut in two-book deal

Pan Macmillan has signed a "remarkable” crime novel set in rural Australia by debut author Hayley Scrivenor in a two-book deal.

Alex Saunders, commissioning editor, acquired world English language rights, excluding US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, for Dirt Town and one other novel from Jane Finigan at Lutyens & Rubinstein. North American rights went to Flatiron Books for Macmillan US, and Pan Macmillan Australia will publish in Australia and New Zealand. Pan Macmillan UK will publish Dirt Town in June 2022.

The synopsis states: “When 12-year-old Esther Bianchi disappears on her way home from school in the small town of Durton in rural Australia, the local community is thrown into a state of grief and suspicion.”

Saunders said: “From the moment I started reading Dirt Town I knew something very special had come my way. It’s one of those books that makes you sit up and focus, demanding your time and attention. Hayley has written a spectacular crime novel which has it all: character-rich storytelling, beautifully written prose married with highly commercial plotting and stunning twists that sweep you through this thought-provoking slice of upmarket crime fiction. It’s been wonderful working with Macmillan colleagues in Australia and the US, and I can’t wait to introduce readers around the world to Hayley’s remarkable novel next year.”

An earlier version of the book was shortlisted for the Penguin Literary Prize and won the Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award.

Scrivenor commented: “Esther Bianchi is just 12 years old when she disappears on her way home from school. A no-nonsense cop must put her ex-girlfriend out of mind and do everything she can to find the missing girl. Esther leaves people behind – a best friend who idolises her, a mother reeling from betrayal, a young boy who saw something, who doesn’t even have words for what he is afraid of. And then there is the town itself: a chorus of children; impossible, all-seeing. The voice of a poor and dying place.

“By the end of the novel, I want us to miss Esther as badly as the people in her life do. I’m beyond excited that Dirt Town has found a home with Pan Macmillan in Australia and the UK, and Flatiron in the US and the passion for this book from editors in all three countries has been revelatory. It's amazing to me that a story set in a small country town, one rather like the place I grew up, has connected with readers across the world. I can only hope these people and this place get under your skin as they have mine.”

Finigan added: “Hayley is a brilliant new talent in crime writing and Dirt Town is a remarkable debut novel with which to launch her career. I am delighted that we have found such a passionate advocate for the book in Alex.”