Sceptre has scooped the debut graphic novel by award-winning New Yorker cartoonist Will McPhail in a three-publisher auction.
In, described by the Hodder imprint’s editorial director Emma Herdman as “one of my favourite books of all time”, will be released in spring 2021. It follows Nick, an illustrator isolated by his tendency to observe rather than participate, and Wren, a mischievous oncologist.
Herdman, who bought British Commonwealth rights excluding Canada from Gordon Wise at Curtis Brown on behalf of Heather Karpas at ICM, said: “In is intimate and accessible, a smart commentary on modern life and a joyful celebration of being human. It’s also a romantic comedy along the way and is already one of my favourite books of all time. I can’t wait for readers to forge genuine connections with Will’s beautiful novel.”
The synopsis explains: “Increasingly frustrated by meaningless interactions, by coffee shops that house ten types of milk but one homogenous personality, Nick decides one day to try to forge a genuine human connection by finding the ‘right words’. Faced with his plumber Steve, he takes the plunge: and when he does, when Steve opens his world to him, Nick discovers he can explore it as if it were a real place, a physical manifestation of Steve’s true self and the meaningful conversation that they’re having. Finally taking part in life, Nick is no longer watching from the outside— he’s in. As he finds the right words to have genuine interactions with more people, he learns of the striking differences between our inner selves and our public personas. But when one of these worlds is suddenly closed to him forever, Nick will try to reconcile his own inner life with his outward persona.”
McPhail is a writer and cartoonist from Lancashire who lives in Edinburgh. His work at the New Yorker has earned him the Reuben Award’s Cartoonist of the Year award for the last two years running and attracted a social media following of more than 100,000. He has also been published in Private Eye and the New Statesman and was winner of the British Cartoonists Association’s Young Cartoonist of the Year in 2013.
He said: “My most staunchly held belief is that if you buy enough stationery, you get a book deal. I was right, world, and I’m pleased to say that in Emma and the team at Sceptre I have found the talent, brains, and experience to accompany my vast collection of empty notepads.”