International security, Brexit and health and well-being titles were prominent among the non-fiction deals cut during London Book Fair 2016.
The Raqqa Diaries: Life Inside the Islamic State by Syrian activist Mohammed (surname not revealed) caused a stir after it was acquired by Hutchinson on the back of a series of short broadcasts on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, and an insider’s tale of what MI5 is like – described as a “real-life Homeland” by a former MI5 operative, which was snapped up by Michael Joseph.
In health and wellbeing, Profile Books and Wellcome Collection acquired Transformations, a “profound and intelligent study” by GP and author Gavin Francis. In the book Francis explores both the medical and the cultural implications of change in the human body, from gender-reassignment surgery to menopause. World all language rights were acquired from Jenny Brown at Jenny Brown Associates for the title which will be published in spring 2018.
HarperThorsons, meanwhile, acquired Mind Body Bowl by lifestyle blogger and yoga teacher Annie Clarke. The book aims to inspire readers to “connect with themselves, to pick and choose what works for them as individuals, and to create the conditions for a truly healthy, happy lifestyle”. Editorial director Carolyn Thorne bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Rachel Mills at Peters, Fraser + Dunlop. Thorne said: “I am delighted to welcome Annie Clarke’s Mind Body Bowl to the Thorsons list. Annie is an inspiration, and she represents the next generation of writing on health, wellness and happiness”.
Katy Follain, non-fiction publisher at Quercus, pre-empted UK & Commonwealth rights to How to Die: A Field Guide by Dr BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger from Richard Pike at Curtis Brown on behalf of Sloan Harris and Heather Karpas at ICM. The book is partly a meditation on death and partly a practical guide to planning for the logistics surrounding the end of a life, in what can feel like a poorly designed, chaotic and inhuman experience. The author is a palliative care physician, who lost both legs and an arm in an accident when he was 22. His TED Talk, ‘What Really Matters At The End of Life’ has received 3,500,000 views since October 2015. Both authors regularly give talks about the how to create a dignified, graceful end of life for dying patients. The book will be published by Quercus and Simon & Schuster US in spring 2018.
Penguin Life is also set to publish a book that brings together running and mindfulness: Run for Your Life from therapist and founder of psychotherapy practice Dynamic Running Therapy, William Pullen. Emily Robertson, editor for Penguin Life and Viking, bought world rights from the Robyn Drury at Diane Banks Associates for the book, which is to be published as a trade paperback and e-book on 5th January 2017, priced £12.99. Based on years of first-hand experience with clients and his own personal recovery, the title includes strategies to cope with anxiety, anger, depression, change and decision-making and will offer readers space to reflect on "Dynamic Running exercises".
Meanwhile Harlequin’s newly-announced HQ imprint has revealed it will start publishing non-fiction in the autumn, beginning with self-help.
Executive publisher Lisa Milton said: “Having launched HQ as our new imprint, I'm delighted that we will also be publishing non-fiction. Starting with memoir and self-help, I'm really excited about what we can do within established areas of commercial non-fiction as well as new ones.”
The list will be launched in November with the publication of The Pilgrim, the action-packed autobiography of Colin Maclachlan, one of the special forces veterans who starred in the Channel 4 TV series “SAS: Who Dares Wins”. A trained hostage negotiator and rescuer, Maclachlan was part of the “notorious” Operation Certain Death in Sierra Leone and was taken hostage himself in Basra in 2006, eventually being freed by British troops. From joining the Royal Scots at the age of 15 to life after the services, HQ said Pilgrim was a “rollercoaster” of a read.
World rights were acquired from Luigi Bonomi at LBA Literary Agency.
HQ has also acquired The Art of Breathing by Dr Danny Penman for its non-fiction list. Milton acquired UK and Commonwealth rights for two new titles from Sheila Crowley at Curtis Brown. The book is a “practical guide to letting go by simply taking the time to breathe”, and will be published as a paperback original in November.
Finally, IB Tauris acquired world rights to Let’s Stay Together: Why Yes to Europe, a new book by former Labour party politician Denis MacShane, author of Brexit: How Britain Will Leave Europe. According to the publisher, the book “is set to make a big impact everywhere as the first ‘gloves off’ argument from a prominent figure within the Remain campaign – which until now has been fairly retrained”. MacShane has long been a spokesman for the pro-European cause, drawing on his long career as an MP and as Minister for Europe under Tony Blair - he first coined the word ‘Brexit’ back in 2012. IB Tauris will publish in May.