'Breakthrough' novel inspired by the author's childhood in the South Pacific
Becky Walker, commissioning editor at Usborne Publishing, has won "a heated auction" to sign The Long Now and a further novel by Zillah Bethell. Usborne has world rights through Julia Churchill at AM Heath, and will publish The Long Now in summer 2020. Bethell's most recent novels were published by Piccadilly.
Inspired by Bethell's childhood, The Long Now is set amid the islands of the South Pacific, where she lived - without shoes, toys or technology - until coming to the UK at the age of 10. The novel is about Blue Wing, who lives with her guardian Siringen, a shark-caller, following the death by shark attack of her parents. She befriends an American girl who comes to the island, and the two of them find themselves on a journey to depths of the ocean, where the deadly shark Xok lies waiting. The Long Now is billed as "in the best tradition of Eva Ibbotson, Katherine Rundell and Geraldine McCaughrean".
Walker said: "From the first glimpse of a shark's fin, The Long Now bewitched the whole of the Usborne office, transporting us straight to New Ireland, and taking us on the journey of a lifetime. At once a brilliantly-woven adventure, The Long Now is also the story of the extraordinary power of friendship, of courage and of what home is and can be."
Churchill said: "Selling a debut in an enthusiastic auction is always exciting. What's much rarer, and even more exciting, is selling a book that isn't a debut in a very enthusiastic auction. The Long Now feels like a classic, and Zillah's breakthrough book."