Award-winning children’s author Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s first foray into adult fiction has gone to Picador for a significant six-figure sum after a “hotly contested” 13-publisher auction.
Picador senior commissioning editor Sophie Jonathan bought UK and Commonwealth rights (including audio) to Vardø, and another novel, from Hellie Ogden at Janklow & Nesbit. There has been a pre-empt in Spain, with auctions ongoing in Germany, France and Italy and “major interest in the US”.
Inspired by real-life witch trials, Vardø takes place in the early 1600s in a remote Norwegian fishing village, where a storm wipes out all the men. The village prospers for a few years, until the authorities send the sinister Absalom Cornet to bring its citizens to heel... through any means necessary.
Millwood Hargrave has published four collections of poetry, while her first YA book, The Girl of Ink & Stars (Chicken House), sold over 100,000 units in the UK, winning the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the British Book Awards’ Children’s Book of the Year in 2017.
Jonathan said: “Vardø had me mesmerised from the first ‘finger snap’ of the storm that sets this novel rolling. Best of all, it’s a defiant love story, and a story of passionate, powerful friendship. I can’t wait to share it with readers.”