I’m absolutely delighted to announce that I’ve sold two books to Macmillan in a six figure pre-emptive deal. The first is called False Hearts and is a near-future thriller set in San Francisco which the publisher is pitching as ‘Minority Report meets Gone Girl’. You know, no pressure or anything.
Six months ago, I’d never have dreamed this would happen. I’ve published two previous books, Pantomime & Shadowplay. They received very nice reviews and won an award and appeared on some ALA lists. I got really, really wonderful notes from readers. But then Strange Chemistry folded. There I was, out of contract, wondering if I’d ever sell another book. I felt a little jaded and tired. I was tempted to put aside the keyboard for a while and spend my evenings watching TV and reading and maybe actually cleaning my flat more often.
But in the meantime, I’d been writing this other book. It was the polar opposite of my other work. This was for adults rather than teens, it was in a near-future world, and it was a pacy thriller. Because it was so very different, I started giving it the nickname of Bonkers Book when I talked about it on social media, though it isn’t actually that bonkers.
Writing this book was a joy. I’ve never had more fun drafting and editing. Sure, I whinged and complained a bit (I’m a writer, it’s what we do), but overall I had a blast. I loved the characters and the world. I wrote faster than I ever had before. I edited it and sent it to my beta readers. And though of course they had suggestions, I had amazingly positive feedback, more so than ever before. One beta reader said “If this doesn’t find a publisher, I’ll eat my big, navy felt hat.” I tried not to get my hopes up too much. Yet even if nothing happened, I knew it was my lifeline book, and that I couldn’t give up writing.
A few months later, after edits with my agent, Juliet, False Hearts went on submission. I’d never been on wide submission before, since Pantomime was picked up from Angry Robot’s open door. I wish I could say I was calm and collected and got on with things, but that’d be a lie. I was a mess. I played a lot of solitaire. I mean a LOT. I really loved this book, but I had no idea if it would sell.
It went out, and within 9 days I got that phone call from my agent: Julie Crisp at Pan Macmillan wanted to offer pre-emptively for the book. After nervously waiting for the details to be agreed, when Juliet phoned me and told me I had a deal, my knees actually buckled. It was a much better conversation than the one she’d had to give me six months before, where I’d sobbed a lot. Okay, I still sobbed, but it was happy tears this time.
I’m so deliriously happy. A huge, gigantic thank you to everyone at Pan Macmillian, especially Julie Crisp. They’ve been so enthusiastic so far and I can’t wait to work with them. And thank you to Juliet, my wonderful agent, for believing in me and being my fairy godsister. Thank you to everyone who read the various drafts and offered invaluable feedback. I can’t wait to share False Hearts with the world!
Tor UK’s Julie Crisp has pre-empted World English Language rights for a new novel called False Hearts and an untitled novel by Laura Lam from Juliet Mushens at The Agency Group in a six figure deal.
Crisp, editorial director at Pan Macmillan, said: “I was completely hooked from the first page by Laura’s writing. To me it was like reading Hunger Games meets “Blade Runner” meets The Shining Girls. Thrilling, addictive and completely page-turning.”
The novel begins in Mana’s Hearth, a retreat that’s closed off from the rest of society and denied access to technology or modern medicine, where twin sisters Taema and Tila dream of a life beyond the walls of the compound. When their lives are threatened they finally manage escape to San Francisco and a life that’s beyond anything they could have imagined. Ten years later, Tila returns to the twins’ home in the city, terrified and covered in blood, just before the police arrive and arrest her for murder in the first homicide by a civilian in decades. Taema is given a proposition: go undercover as her sister and perhaps save her twin’s life.
Mushens described the book as “an adrenaline-fuelled thriller, packed full of twists and turns with a compelling heroine at its heart”.
Lam was raised near San Francisco, California. She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She said of the deal: “This year has been a rollercoaster, and this is definitely one of the highest highs.”
Macmillan will publish False Hearts in January 2016.