Little Darlings, the debut from Melanie Golding, has been pre-empted by HQ for a significant six-figure sum in the fastest response the agency has ever seen to a manuscript.


In her first acquisition for the HarperCollins imprint, editorial director Manpreet Grewal’s acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, within 48 hours of submission. Little Darlings will be published in hardback, e-book and audio book in spring 2019.


Loosely inspired by the ghostly folktale ‘The Brewery of Eggshells’, where a mother becomes convinced her twins are not her own, Little Darlings offers a fresh perspective on modern motherhood and postnatal depression.


Grewal, who joined HQ in October said: “I wanted my first acquisition for HQ to be big and brave and bold, and Little Darlings is all of this, and so much more besides. The storytelling is sharp, the writing is slick and classy, but I’ll admit that I couldn’t read it in one sitting because it creeped me out so much that I had to wait until daylight to finish it. It’s taut, tense and utterly compelling and is exactly the kind of reading group fiction we want to publish at HQ. Mel is the real deal and I know that this is just the start for her. I can’t wait to share this journey with her.”


Golding revealed she is interested in how “stories and lives intersect” and hopes to take the reader to some “strangely familiar places”. She said: “I am completely delighted to be working with Manpreet and the team at HQ, and really bowled over by their enthusiasm for my work. I’ve always been fascinated by the spaces where stories and lives intersect, where the imagination tips over into reality. I hope that together with the talented people at HQ I’ll be able to explore these further, perhaps taking the reader to some unexpected, yet strangely familiar places.”


Set in present-day Sheffield and spanning the first five weeks following a traumatic childbirth, Lauren’s hopes and dreams of being a new mum are shattered when she encounters a mother’s worst nightmare – someone is threatening to take her twins if she leaves them alone. The novel ranges from the stark loneliness of returning home after birth to the confines of a psychiatric unit, as the reader is forced to question if Lauren is mad, or does she know something we don’t?


As Madeleine said, “this is a book that speaks to every new mother, and I’m proud to represent something that explores what can be a challenging time.”


Congratulations Melanie, and roll on Spring 2019!