Penguin Michael Joseph has acquired the “uplifting and joyfully festive” The Christmas Swap by the winner of the PMJ Christmas Love Story Competition, Talia Samuels.
Editorial director Rebecca Hilsdon acquired world rights from Emily Glenister at D H H Literary Agency after Samuels was selected out of hundreds of applicants last year when Penguin Michael Joseph launched the contest.
Entries were judged by a panel from the Penguin Michael Joseph editorial team, as well as Times journalist Phoebe Luckhurst, author of The Lock In (published by PMJ).
The winning novel follows Margot Murray, a newly single businesswoman with no interest in a cutesy seasonal romance, who agrees to pose as the girlfriend of unlucky-in-love Ben Gibson.
His family live in a picture-perfect manor in the countryside and every year ask when he’s going to meet “The One”. Ben realises only one thing will stop them asking – introducing them to his new “girlfriend”. The story can only go one way. Margot is sure to fall in love for real. And she does. With Ben’s sister, Ellie.
Samuels said: “This experience has been a dream come true from the start – not least because I received the good news while tucking into a jalfrezi. Rebecca has been the perfect fit as an editor and her guidance has helped shape this book into all I wanted it to be and more. I am beyond delighted to be sharing this story full of love, silliness and queer joy.”
Hilsdon said: “It was wonderful running our Christmas Love Story Competition last year and we were lucky enough to read stories from so many talented writers. However, Talia’s novel was precisely what we were looking for – warm-hearted, festive and funny – and will be the perfect seasonal romance for 2023.”
Glenister added: “Talia is one of those rare gems of an author, whose writing makes you feel like you’re chatting to your best mate and The Christmas Swap is no exception. We need far more queer love stories in the commercial fiction space and I am so excited that this very funny, very frank (and at times rather sexy) story will soon be in readers’ hands!” The Christmas Swap will be published in October 2023.
From The Bookseller article | Lauren Brown