Trapeze has signed the “gorgeous” debut novel by James Gould-Bourn in a two-book deal.
Commissioning editor Katie Brown acquired UK and Commonwealth rights for Keeping Mum from Joanna Swainson at Hardman & Swainson. US rights were pre-empted by Kara Watson at Scribner, and auctions for the novel have ended in Germany, Italy and China. It was also pre-empted in France and Serbia and rights sold in Japan with further deals expected during London Book Fair.
The novel tells the story of Danny’s struggle to reach his son Will, who has not spoken since his mum died in a car crash. The synopsis reads: "After seeing street performers in his local park apparently raking it in, he spends his last fiver on a vomit-ridden animal suit and becomes a dancing panda… until something unexpected happens that makes the humiliation of his terrible rhythm all worth it. When Danny sees Will being bullied, he runs over in the panda outfit to save his son, who in turn then opens up to him like he hasn’t for over a year. But Will doesn’t know it’s his dad in the suit, and Danny is too afraid to tell him the truth in case he spoils everything.”
Gould-Bourn, 36, was born and raised in Stockport, Manchester and is a former writer for Bored Panda. He has also worked for several landmine clearance NGOs in Africa and the Middle East.
Brown said: “As soon as I read the first few pages of this gorgeous novel, I knew I had to publish it. James is a talented comic storyteller, who is equally gifted at writing scenes with emotional heft. Keeping Mum made more than one of my colleagues cry in public. I am delighted that James chose Trapeze as the home for his very special debut novel, and I cannot wait to bring it to as many readers as possible.”
Gould-Bourn said: “I’ve been grinning like a muppet since I first spoke to Katie Brown, whose obvious passion and enthusiasm left me absolutely convinced that my novel would be in the very best of hands with her and her brilliant team.”