Walker acquires Rowe's Black romance YA

Walker acquires Rowe's Black romance YA

Walker Books has made a deal for two YA Black romance novels with US author Kelis Rowe, including her debut Finding Jupiter

Finding Jupiter is billed as a "fresh and contemporary boy/girl YA romance with a mystery twist". It will tell the story of two Black teenagers; the gentle-hearted Orion and the confident-but-guarded Ray. But as they fall for one another, a family secret threatens to tear them apart. The publisher said: "It’s an honest, unpredictable, funny and heartbreaking story of love that readers will fall head over heels for."

The book will also include a poetry element with Ray creating original poems from pages of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (J B Lippincott, 1937), F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925) and Richard Wright's Black Boy (Harper & Brothers, 1945).

Commissioning editor Gráinne Clear pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights from Charlotte Bodman at Rights People on behalf of Chelsea Eberly at the Greenhouse Literary Agency. Phoebe Yeh at Crown acquired US rights in a six-figure deal after and a seven-way auction. Finding Jupiter will be published in both territories in summer 2022 and its sequel will follow in summer 2023. 

Clear said: "As soon as I read the first pages of Finding Jupiter, I was drawn in by Kelis’ easy and flowing prose, her authentic and brilliant dialogue, her hugely endearing characters and her fresh take on contemporary YA romance. She explores big subjects such as grief and loss so beautifully, and how things beyond your control can threaten even the greatest of loves. I’m so excited to welcome Kelis to the Walker list, and to bring her story to readers across the UK, Ireland and beyond."

Rowe commented: "When I wrote Finding Jupiter, I wanted to give Black teens a love to root for that was joyful, celebratory, and looked like their love stories. I’m thrilled that it is ultimately a universal love story that so many fans of YA romance will enjoy. I’d hoped that my first novel would reach as many readers as possible, but never in a million years did I think my debut would reach across the pond and beyond. I join a family of amazing American authors at Walker Books UK, and I’m honoured that Gráinne Clear saw something special in my book. I couldn’t have dreamed up a more amazing UK publisher to bring my sparkly Memphis summer romance to the wider world."