St Mary’s Creative Writing graduate Jess Kidd, has sold her debut novel to publisher Canongate. Louisa Joyner, editorial director of fiction, bought UK and Commonwealth rights to Himself in a two-book deal, from Susan Armstrong at Conville&Walsh.
The publisher described Jess’s debut novel as “by turns blackly humorous, mysterious and darkly chilling”. It tells the story of Mahony, a loveable thief and Dublin charmer who was abandoned as a baby and returns to the place of his birth in search of answers about his mother.
Jess completed her PhD after graduating from St Mary’s MA in Creative Writing. The novel began as the central element of her PhD, supervised by St Mary’s lecturer and novelist Dr Russell Schechter and Professor Allan Simmons, before being revised for publication. ‘Jess’s remarkable talent was in evidence from day one,’ according to Schechter. ‘We learned new things from each other as the novel grew and came to life. I always believed she would be a star.’
“Writing is isolating,” Kidd said, “so it was a joy to explore my writing journey, academically and creatively, with Russell and Allan. This collaboration has not only informed my first novel but, I’m sure, will continue to influence my future work.”
St Mary’s Creative Writing department welcomes PhD proposals in the novel, and its Creative Writing MA: First Novel, now specialises in tutoring first time novelists who want to complete drafts of their first novels. Lecturers and students at St Mary’s have been published by Bloomsbury, Canongate, St Martin’s Press and Picador.