English teacher's novel set to be Canongate's lead debut for 2018

English teacher's novel set to be Canongate's lead debut for 2018

Canongate has pre-empted a "rich and wild" debut novel entitled Sal by English teacher Mick Kitson ahead of London Book Fair.

Sal will be Canongate’s lead debut novel in 2018, and will publish in hardback in March.

Editor Jo Dingley and publishing director Francis Bickmore pre-empted world rights including audio to the title from Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown.

Canongate communications director Jenny Fry met Kitson at a wake. Three months later she unexpectedly received a draft of his "incredible" first novel.

Told by Sal, a 13-year-old who has run away with her younger sister Peppa in tow, the book is a "compulsive, uplifting story of survival", set against the silent, "dizzying beauty" of Scotland’s wilderness.

Kitson was born in South Wales and studied English at university before launching 80’s pop band The Senators with his brother Jim. He worked as a journalist for several years, then went on to become an English teacher.

"I am thrilled and very excited that Canongate are publishing the book", Kitson said. "They have been so enthusiastic and helpful. It is the first novel I have ever attempted. I wanted to write a modern adventure story along the lines of Huck Finn or Kidnapped. I also wanted to put lots of things in it that I like doing - like fishing, bird watching and swearing."

Dingley said: "Sal’s is one of the most endearing and original voices I have read, and I fell in love with her character from the very first page. Funny, moving and gritty all at once, it didn’t take long for the team at Canongate to know that this novel is something really special indeed."

Summerhayes added: "It is rare to read something from a debut author that is so perfectly crafted, so different and so delightful. Sal is that novel. Mick is a unique talent and Canongate are the perfect publisher to showcase him to the world."