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AJ Pearce to become Picador's big launch with debut novel in super inspirational deal!
6 October 2016

Riwisi Clever writing pal AJ Pearce wins super Picador deal – Dear Mrs Bird, wartime tale, will get a massive launch!

Picador has won the long awaited debut novel by A J Pearce, Dear Mrs Bird, after a "passionately-fought" seven-publisher auction. A seven-way fight to get the rights to bring this fabulous innovation to the fore!

I’ve known AJ for several years, having met her via our mentor Julie Cohen (see last week’s RiWiSi blog for more info about her and her writing courses!). Julie gave AJ’s first drafts the once-over and she successfully secured Jo Unwin as her agent. Just recently, when I was talking to AJ about my Devon project (where we both attended workshops; more about Devon soon!) she mentioned she was up against it with edits, and having had a tiny glimpse of what’s in store, I was so pleased to hear she’s obviously done such a good job, she’s made the headlines in a big announcement in the new Bookseller industry magazine online! (here)

Francesca Main acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Dear Mrs Bird in a "major" two-book deal struck by Jo Unwin at JULA – her first since Unwin established her fully independent agency.

Translation rights are on the way for Germany (Rowohlt/Kindler), France (Belfond) and Italy (Sperling & Kupfer) and an auction is underway in the USA. Whooo hooo! Further deals are expected imminently, and Conville & Walsh agency will be concluding more at the Frankfurt Book Fair on behalf of JULA.

The book, to be a "super-lead" for Picador, will have a major launch and big budget marketing plan.

Dear Mrs Bird is set in wartime London in 1941. The plot follows protagonist Emmeline Lake who, amid the falling bombs, dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent. However, instead she finds herself employed as a typist for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Day magazine. Mrs Bird is so resolutely against any form of Unpleasantness that she dismisses letters from the lovelorn, grief-stricken or morally conflicted in favour of those who feel their ankles are unsightly or have had trouble untangling a length of wool. But Emmy can’t bear to think of women with genuine fears and worries going unanswered, and soon decides the only thing for it is to write back secretly...

Main said: "I fell head over heels for Dear Mrs Bird, which is the perfect tonic for these troubled times – it’s warm-hearted, poignant and gloriously funny; an utter delight on every page. A J Pearce is a born storyteller and has written a love-letter to friendship, to acts of everyday heroism, and to letter-writing itself. We’re thrilled to welcome her to Picador and can’t wait to start bringing the unforgettable world of Dear Mrs Bird to life."

Jo Unwin said: "Dear Mrs Bird is everything I ever want in a book – it’s funny, sad, and deeply touching.  And A J Pearce is the author we all dream of: seriously good at what she does and ridiculously good fun."

AJ said: "I am beside myself with excitement to be joining Francesca and the incredible team at Picador.  Everyone has been lovely and I know I have found the perfect home for Emmeline and Dear Mrs Bird. Now I really must stop running around shouting PICADOR! at complete strangers."

This last quip is typical of AJ and if you’re like me, you’ll already be earmarking her first novel as a ‘must-read!’

AJ grew up in Hampshire and studied at the University of Sussex. She has worked in magazine publishing and spent 15 years in home entertainment marketing. She now lives in the south of England and works freelance.
Dear Mrs Bird will be a "super-lead" fiction launch for Picador in Spring 2018 with an "extensive" marketing and publicity campaign. How amazing – and hot on the heels of Joanna Cannon’s success, Julie is building up quite a stable of success stories! See last week’s RiWiSi blog to see how you can go to one of her courses.

More from The Bookseller here

Follow lovely AJ on Twitter here.

Other news –

- folly Farm fun When AJ and I attended one of Julie Cohen's previous workshops, we found an unusual student outside... some Pig! 


- more about Julie Cohen's next workshop for authors March 2017 here.

Come join us!

best wishes



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