The Bookseller – Rights – Fourth Estate marks Matthews’ ‘dark and magical’ debut in two-book deal
Fourth Estate has acquired the debut novel by Bath Novel Award finalist Jodie Matthews.
Katie Bowden, Editorial Director, has secured UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada but with exclusive Europe and audio, for Meet me on the surfacefrom Olivia Maidment to the Madeleine Milburn agency in a two-pound deal. Meet me on the surface will appear in the spring of 2024.
It is described by the publisher as a “page-turning horror-tinged mystery and a moving story of love and loss that explores dysfunctional friendships, fractured families, isolation and the experience of being queer. in a small village in the windswept Cornish moors”. .
It tells the story of Merryn, who grew up in the wilderness of Bodmin Moor, raised by her mother and aunt on an old farmhouse. Here the locals never leave the decaying village, fearing for the future of their farms and clinging to the folk tales that are woven into their history. Except Merryn, who escaped to Manchester for college, briefly breaking away from her past.
When Merryn returns home for her ex-girlfriend Claud’s memorial service, she finds the place stranger and more secretive than ever. The villagers are hunting something in the moors at night, but what? And then there’s a notebook, found in an old chest of drawers, full of long-forgotten folklore that seems to be related in some way to Claud.
Bowden said: “I read Meet me on the surface in a feverish session and fell completely in love with this dark and magical story, steeped in Cornish folklore, which instantly draws the reader into a tangle of family secrets, first love and heartbreak. Jodie Matthews is an incredibly inventive and exciting new voice in fiction and everyone at Fourth Estate is thrilled that we are publishing her first novel.
Matthews added: “I’m so happy to be joining Fourth Estate with my debut Meet me on the surface. I wanted to write a novel that explored another side of Cornwall, and more specifically Bodmin Moor, where I grew up, a place of stark beauty steeped in folklore and history. I can’t wait for readers to meet Merryn, Claud and the women of Trewarnen. The past few months have been so exciting, and I feel very lucky to have worked with Katie, whose immediate enthusiasm and vision for the novel blew me away, and to have had the support of my wonderful agent, Olivia Maidly.