Picador buys 'unforgettable' Stonex novel amid global rights frenzy

Picador buys 'unforgettable' Stonex novel amid global rights frenzy

Picador has triumphed in a multi-publisher auction for an “unforgettable” new novel from Emma Stonex in a two-book deal, with rights already being gobbled up around the globe.

Associate publisher, Francesca Main, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to The Lamplighters from Madeleine Milburn at Madeleine Milburn Agency, for publication as a super-lead in spring 2021.

Milburn followed with a multi-way auction in the US where Andrea Schulz at Viking secured US rights. Canadian rights went to HarperCollins Canada and rights have also gone in eight other territories. Milburn said she had never seen so many bidders for a book before.

She said: “Emma was my very first author going years back, and she finally found herself in a position to follow her heart and write the story she would be proud to have published under her own name. This is one of the most satisfying experiences as an agent, and I am beyond thrilled that The Lamplighters will be Picador’s super-lead title for 2021 and that the whole of Penguin Viking in the US are behind it. There’s overwhelming passion from her Canadian publisher and every international publisher who has offered so far – we have never seen so many bidders for a book! It’s a literary gem.”

Inspired by real events, The Lamplighters is the story of three lighthouse keepers who mysteriously disappear from a remote rock miles from the Cornish coast. The door is locked from the inside, the clocks have stopped, and the table is laid for a meal not eaten. The log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week. Twenty years later, still struggling to move on from the tragedy, the women they left behind are given the chance to tell their side of the story.

Main said: “I was blown away by The Lamplighters. Emma Stonex writes beautifully about the majesty of the sea and the powerful tides of loneliness and grief. The central mystery is utterly compelling, deepening and darkening as each lighthouse keeper’s secrets are revealed. Intoxicating, suspenseful and deeply moving, it’s an unforgettable story of isolation, love, betrayal and obsession. There couldn’t be more excitement about The Lamplighters at Picador and we know it marks the beginning of a thrilling literary career.”

Stonex, a former editor, has written books under pseudonyms before but this is the first under her real name. She said: “I am utterly thrilled that The Lamplighters will be published by Picador – my bookshelves are packed with Picador titles and the chance to be published by this imprint is the stuff of dreams. Meeting Francesca cemented this and more in my mind: her intuition, imagination and brilliance is unparalleled, and I cannot picture a more perfect editor and publishing home. I can’t wait to light this lantern together and embark on my new career.”