Zaffre bags 'timely' reality show novel from debut author Acton

Zaffre bags 'timely' reality show novel from debut author Acton

Zaffre has bagged an "unbelievably timely" debut novel from Helly Acton, which has already been optioned for TV, in a two-book deal.

The Shelf, based around a fictional reality showwill be published by the Bonnier Books UK imprint in hardback, e-book and audio next July. UK and Commonwealth rights were acquired by senior editor Sarah Bauer from Hayley Steed at the Madeleine Milburn Agency.

Its synopsis explains: “Amy Wright thinks her boyfriend is surprising her with a dream holiday to pop the big question – they’ve been together for two years now so surely it must be about time? But the dream turns into a nightmare when she removes the blindfold and finds herself on the set of 'The Shelf', a 'Big-Brother' style reality television show. WTAF?! Along with five other women, Amy is dumped live on TV in front of a studio audience and millions of viewers watching from home and now must compete to be crowned The Keeper and the chance to win a million pounds.”

Monumental Pictures, the team behind "Suffragette", "Mary Queen of Scots" and the adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s How To Build a Girl, have optioned TV rights for the book in a multi-part series.

Bauer said: “I am thrilled to be publishing The Shelf. It’s the perfect combination of sharp and pacey writing with the crispest of storylines – and delivers a genuinely emotional impact. It’s a book that will make you laugh out loud, wince as you recognise awkward situations that every woman has found herself in, cheer the characters along and quite possibly sob – I certainly did. Helly’s fantastic novel is unbelievably timely, highlighting how so many of us live our lives under a microscope or behind a filter, and making us question why we’re doing so, and who we truly are. This fabulously feminist novel about the power of women when we support one another is like a breath of fresh air, full of real, relatable characters and an important message.”

Zaffre has been working closely with Instagram influencers to tease the announcement over the past couple of weeks using #TheShelf2020, also setting up a branded account @TheShelfUK.

Acton said: “I’m over the moon to have signed with the wonderful team at Bonnier Books UK and especially delighted to be working with Sarah, whose ideas, energy and empathy for the story stood out from the start. Huge thanks goes to the brilliant Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn, who has helped me navigate this exciting new world. I can’t wait to introduce readers to everyone on The Shelf.”

Steed added: “The concept of The Shelf had me hooked from the moment it dropped into my inbox; the satire, the social commentary and the incredible voice that had me whipping through the pages. I’m so excited for Helly to have found such a brilliant home in Bonnier Books UK and cannot wait to see it published next year.”