Fourth Estate has acquired Bath Novel Award-shortlisted Meet Me At The Surface, the debut novel by writer, poet and book influencer Jodie Matthews. Editorial Director Katie Bowden secured UK and Commonwealth rights excluding Canada, with exclusive Europe and audio from Olivia Maidment at Madeleine Milburn Agency in a two-book deal.

Meet Me At The Surface is a page-turning, horror-tinged mystery and a moving tale of love and loss that explores dysfunctional friendships, fractured families, isolation and the experience of being queer in a small village on the windswept Cornish moors.

It tells the story of Merryn, who has grown up on the wilds of Bodmin moor, raised by her mother and her aunt in an old farmhouse. Here, the locals never leave the decaying village, fear for the future of their farms and cling to the folkloric tales that are woven into their history. Except Merryn, who has escaped to Manchester for university, briefly untethering herself from her past.

When Merryn returns home for the memorial service of her ex-girlfriend Claud, she finds the place stranger and more secretive than ever. The villagers are hunting something on the moors at night, but what? And then there’s the notebook, found in an old chest of drawers, full of long-forgotten folklore than seems to be linked somehow to Claud…

Katie Bowden said: ‘I read Meet Me At The Surface in one fevered sitting and fell completely in love with this dark and magical story, imbued with Cornish folklore, that draws the reader instantly into a tangled web of family secrets, first love and grief. Jodie Matthews is an incredibly inventive, exciting new voice in fiction and everyone at 4th Estate is delighted that we will be publishing her first novel in Spring 2024.’

Jodie Matthews said: ‘I’m so happy to be joining Fourth Estate with my debut Meet Me At The Surface. I wanted to write a novel that explored a different side to Cornwall, and specifically Bodmin Moor, where I grew up, a place of stark beauty that is 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 be working with Katie, who’s immediate enthusiasm and vision for the novel blew me away, and to have had the support of my wonderful agent, Olivia Maidment.’

Olivia Maidment said: ‘I’m incredibly proud of Jodie who is a uniquely exciting new writer with something to say and a beautiful, evocative voice to say it in. Working with Jodie has been a trip to her Cornwall: a conflicted yet magical place where old lore can flourish, and I can’t wait for readers to discover it, too. I’m so pleased that she has found her perfect home with Katie and 4th Estate.’

Jodie Matthews is a queer Cornish writer and poet, living and working in the West Midlands as a gardener. She has written for numerous publications including Ladybeard, Parallel, and Ramona magazines, and she runs a successful bookstagram account @jodierhianmatthews. Meet Me At The Surface is her first novel, and it was shortlisted for the Bath Novel Award and the Blue Pencil First Novel Award 2021.