Verve Books has acquired Bird Spotting in a Small Town, “a chilling literary suspense novel set on the North Norfolk coast”, by Sophie Morton-Thomas.
Editorial director Jenna Gordon acquired world English language rights, including audiobook rights, from Bill Goodall at the Bill Goodall Literary Agency. Bird Spotting in a Small Town will be published as a paperback original and e-book by Verve Books in February 2024.
Bird Spotting in a Small Town, described by the publisher as “a disquieting story of strange occurrences and buried secrets, narrated by troubled holiday park owner and bird watcher Fran and Romany elder Tad”, is Morton-Thomas’ second novel and was longlisted for The Page Turner Awards – winning Best Story Title – along with the Retreat West First Pages Award.
Morton-Thomas’s stories have been shortlisted for the London Independent Story Prize and the Wells Literature Festival Short Story competition. Her previous novel is entitled Travel by Night (Darkstroke/Crooked Cat).
Its synopsis reads: “Small-town tension simmers when a new teacher starts at the local school and a Roma community settle in the field adjoining Fran’s caravan park. From the distance of his caravan, 70-year-old Tad quietly watches the townspeople – mainly, Fran’s family. After the schoolteacher and Fran’s brother-in-law both go missing on the same night, accusations fly. Yet all Fran can seem to care about is the birds.”
Morton-Thomas said: “The story stemmed from my interest in spotting birds as a child and a fascination with coastal settings, where anything can happen between the marshlands and the waves. Family tensions run thick, and I hope readers enjoy untangling these tensions as much as I enjoyed creating them.”
Gordon added: “I and the rest of Verve are delighted Sophie Morton-Thomas has chosen us as a home for her latest novel. Bird Spotting in a Small Town is a psychological suspense with the perfect balance of mystery, tension and family drama. Encapsulating some key elements of British crime fiction as it renders the quiet claustrophobia of small-town life, it’s a novel that’s set to draw readers in, and intrigue as it unsettles.”