Picador has netted New Animal, a “sharp and witty” debut novel by poet and sculptor Ella Baxter.
Commissioning editor Ansa Khan Khattak acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding the US, Canada and New Zealand, from John Ash at PEW Literary on behalf of Grace Heifetz at Left Bank Literary, Sydney. Allen & Unwin will publish in 2021 in Australia and New Zealand, where New Animal is being developed as a television series written by Marieke Hardy and produced by Lingo Pictures. Picador will follow in March 2022.
Picador said: “New Animal tells the story of Amelia, who works in the family funeral parlour as a make-up artist to the deceased. Amelia is fairly casual about the notion of death, until the sudden demise of her mother knocks her out of orbit. Aware she's not coping, Amelia flees to see her biological father, looking for different ways to escape her body and keep grief at bay. When a chance online encounter sees her drawn into the local BDSM community, she begins to navigate the complexities of pleasure and pain, love and violence. All the while she tries to come to terms with the inevitable truth that grief catches up with us all, no matter how far we run."
Baxter is a poet and sculptor who in her spare time runs a small business making bespoke death shrouds. She is currently writing her second novel, Woo Woo.
She said: “I have always been suspicious and interested in anything with an austere reputation. Death, sex, grief, desire — these things all seem serious and impenetrable. My goal with New Animal was to set a soulful and intimate comedy against a backdrop of these themes by exploring one young woman's non-typical response to kink, death and family. Humans in equal parts intrigue and frighten me. Scratch the surface and we are all fleshy sacks full of hope and hunger. Through researching and writing this book I have come to see that our approach to death and sex are ever evolving, individual responses to our world. Humans are strange, but understandably so.”
Khattak said: “I loved Ella’s novel from the first page: the writing is sharp and witty, and I was hooked on Amelia’s voice. But as well as the brilliant humour, the novel’s exploration of grief and pain — how both work their way through your body — makes me very excited that Picador will be bringing it to readers here in the UK. Ella is so talented, and with New Animal has written a powerful novel of real emotion.”