Yarwood's 'wry, moving' début snapped up for six-figures

Yarwood's 'wry, moving' début snapped up for six-figures

Two novels by début author Dianne Yarwood, who turned to writing after barely surviving a sudden illness, have been snapped up for six-figures in a “hotly-contested” auction.  

Francesca Main, publisher at Orion’s Phoenix imprint, and Hachette Australia’s head of fiction Rebecca Saunders bought UK, Commonwealth and ANZAC rights to The Wakes, and another title, from Catherine Drayton at InkWell Management.

The Wakes is described as a “wry, moving and uplifting novel about love, loss, heartbreak and the enduring power of friendship”. The book is set in Sydney during winter, centring on two people whose lives are falling apart. Clare’s husband has left her, and when a friend asks her to help with her funeral catering business, she welcomes the distraction. Emergency doctor Chris has witnessed too much death but netherless still attends the occasional wake, which is where he meets and slowly falls for Clare. But "catering, like life, doesn’t always go according to plan and a secret revealed at the final funeral threatens to undo their burgeoning happiness..."

Yarwood has previously worked in accountancy and corporate advisory in London and Sydney, where she currently lives. At the age of 40, with three young children, she became very ill and her life was saved by an emergency doctor. After the brush with death, she turned to what she always wanted to do: write. 

Main compared Yarwood’s writing to Meg Mason, Anne Tyler and Nora Ephron. She added: "The Wakes is so irresistibly warm-hearted, funny and touching I didn’t want to put it down… The novel is so effortlessly enjoyable the pages practically turn themselves, but I also found it quietly profound on the big questions of life and death and what truly matters in the end; the impact we have on those we leave in our wake.”

Yarwood said: "I’ve dreamt of being published for so many years, and the enthusiastic response from publishers has exceeded that dream. Right from the start, the level of passion Rebecca and Francesca had for my novel was irresistible, as was their connection with its heart and meaning."

The Wakes will be published as a lead Phoenix hardback in spring 2023.