Debut Adelaide Author Nets Five-Figure US Publishing Deal

The debut young adult novel from Adelaide author Poppy Nwosu has just been sold to Walker Books in the USA for a five-figure sum.

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Making Friends with Alice Dyson, the debut novel from Adelaide author Poppy Nwosu – and the first book on Wakefield Press’ dedicated new YA list, launched in March 2019 – has just been sold to Walker Books US for a five-figure sum.

“I am excited to bring this book to lucky US readers,” says Susan van Metre, executive editorial director of Walker Books US (a division of Candlewick Press). “It is some of my favourite writing about first love in all its messy intensity.”

Making Friends with Alice Dyson is a contemporary romance with strong emphases on friendship, fitting in and authentic self-realisation, all in the distinctive setting of maritime Port Adelaide and surrounds.

“It’s heart-warming to know this charming little story of a teenager from the Port will now be loved by readers worldwide,” says Margot Lloyd, publisher, young adult books, at Wakefield Press. “We’re incredibly proud of Poppy’s work and couldn’t think of a better publisher than Candlewick to take her stories further afield.”

Poppy’s second novel, Taking Down Evelyn Tait, has also been acquired by Wakefield Press, and will be published in April 2020. Set in the same fictional universe as Making Friends with Alice Dyson, with a queer romance at its heart, the new novel follows Lotte, who swears revenge when her best friend starts dating her nemesis: Evelyn Tait.

“The idea that my debut will soon be published overseas still feels very surreal, and I am just so excited to work together with Candlewick to bring my story to American readers,” says Poppy.

Making Friends with Alice Dyson was published to rave reviews in Australia, including a comparison, in the Age/Sydney Morning Herald, to internationally acclaimed Australian YA novelist Jaclyn Moriarty, cited by Poppy as an inspiration for her debut. Her new US publisher draws a similar comparison. “I love Jaclyn Moriarty’s generosity and humour and see both in Poppy’s work, too.”

Making Friends with Alice Dyson is currently shortlisted for the prestigious 2019 Readings Young Adult Book Prize. The judges report reads: “Nwosu bypasses toxic and high-stakes romantic tropes for a refreshingly nuanced and realistic dynamic, while still giving readers the slow-burn romance they crave: a gloriously heady mix of tentative self-consciousness, bittersweet longing and simmering tension.” The winner of the readings Young Adult Book Prize will be announced later this month.

This rights deal is testament to the value of two integral government-funded programs for Australian publishers: particularly valuable for small independent publishers like Wakefield Press, which celebrates its thirtieth birthday this year.

Margot Lloyd met with Candlewick Press and several other international publishing representatives in Sydney this year, as part of the Visiting International Publishers Program, run by the Australia Council for the Arts, now in its 21st year. The program brought thirteen international publishers, editors, agents, and scouts to Australia, to meet with Australian publishers. Margot’s trip to Sydney was assisted by a Building Pathways grant from Arts SA. These grants exist to help South Australian artists build their national and international profile through relationship development.

“We’re so lucky to have the VIPs program, which helps spread Australian writing to the world,” says Margot.

Making Friends with Alice Dyson was shortlisted for the Arts SA Wakefield Press Manuscript Award in 2018. It is available through the Wakefield Press website in paperback for 24.95

Entries are also now open for the 2020 Arts SA Wakefield Press Manuscript Award, until 5pm on 31 July 2019.

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