HQ is to publish The Cult of Fog Island trilogy by Mariette Lindstein, a former Scientologist.
The acqusition is HQ publishing director Kate Mills' first for the imprint, pre-empting world English rights in The Cult of Fog Island, The Cult Rises and Children of the Cult from Maria Enberg at the Enberg Agency Sweden.
Drawing on the author’s own experiences, the trilogy follows a young woman caught up in a mysterious cult on a Swedish island which is cut off by fog for six months of the year. The first book in the series has just won the Best Crime Debut at the Specsavers CrimeTime Awards in Sweden.
Lindstein said: "In my trilogy about Fog Island I have, besides the joy of writing a nervewracking thriller, tried to used my own experiences to make the cult problem universally applicable. It is not only about life within a cult but what happens afterwards and the consequences for future generations. Kate has really understood the series and its purpose. It is a privilege to work with her and I am thrilled to have Kate and the whole team at HQ HarperCollins as my UK publisher."
Mills said: "This is one of the most page-turning stories I’ve read. Sofia is an ordinary woman who, after a toxic relationship, finds herself drawn to a man at the heart of a sinister cult. Fog Island is very beguiling, but it’s soon clear there is something very wrong. And then fog sets in and it becomes a whole lot worse. This is dark and powerful storytelling, a horrifying look at cult mentality and our need to belong. But it’s also a story of triumph and escape, told with real warmth. And it’s all the more powerful for being drawn from Mariette’s own life experiences."
Lindstein left Sweden when she was 19 and became part of the Church of Scientology. She was rapidly promoted and worked at the highest levels, directly under Scientology leader David Miscavige. During that time, she married and had children within the organisation, before escaping in 2004 in "dramatic circumstances" back to Sweden. When interviewed by author Lawrence Wright about her experiences within Scientology, the idea of writing a suspense novel within a cult setting was born.
HQ will publish the three books over an 18-month period, beginning in autumn 2017. In Sweden, the novels have been published by Forum and rights have also been acquired in Norway, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden.