UK - London - Short Story Competition Winner

Literary star and Edge Hill University alumnus Carys Bray has struck a six-figure deal for her début novel about a tragedy-stricken Mormon family.

Hutchinson publishing director Jocasta Hamilton has signed world rights to Here We Are Together, the ‘devastatingly emotional and sharply observed’ novel of a Lancashire Mormon family whose world is shattered when the youngest daughter, Issy, dies. The father believes the family will see her again in heaven, while seven-year-old Jacob thinks he’ll be able to perform a resurrection miracle if he prays hard enough.

Carys completed the novel as part of a PhD in Creative Writing at Edge Hill and couldn’t believe it when she got the call. “Forty-eight hours after she sent my novel out on submission, my agent telephoned me at home and said, ‘You need to sit down’. No one has ever said that to me before. When I heard the news, I reached for my mobile to text my husband but I couldn’t form the words because my thumb was shaking so much. My children appeared and as soon as they realised what was happening they ran around the house cheering.”

She added: “I’m delighted that my novel has been selected by a publisher with such an impressive list. Hutchinson and Windmill publish some wonderful writers and their books are objects of beauty. It was a real pleasure to meet Jocasta and hear her talk so enthusiastically about the novel and I can’t wait to work with her.

Told by each member of the Bradley family during a time of particular sadness, Carys’ novel is a story of doubt, faith and absent miracles amid the enduring and sometimes chafing bonds of family.

Publisher Jocasta said: “I loved Carys’ writing from the first page but by the time I was weeping with the different members of the Bradley family, I knew this was an incredibly special novel that I would be so proud to publish. Emotionally true, morally interesting, structurally inventive, Here We Are Together takes you to the heart of what being part of a family means.”

Carys herself grew up in a strict Mormon family but in her early thirties she replaced religion with writing.

“I began creative writing in earnest when I started my MA at Edge Hill. I was very shy about my writing when I started the course, but I’d hit my thirties and saw this as a last chance to find out if this was something I could do.”

Carys’ tutors soon spotted her talent and urged her to send her stories to literary magazines. Her first story to be published was The Ice Baby, which appeared in New Fairy Tales.

The Southport mother-of-four then won the MA category of the Edge Hill Short Story Prize in 2010 before going on to scoop the Scott Prize for Short Stories, an international award for a first collection of short stories by a single author.

Her first novel will be published in hardback in June 2014.