HarperCollins has acquired North American rights to Patrick Ness’s The Rest of Us Just Live Here, a YA novel due out in fall 2015, and a second, stand-alone novel, as yet unscheduled. HarperCollins Children’s Books editorial director Rosemary Brosnan won the book at an auction brokered by Walker Books U.K., which will publish the book there on August 28, 2015.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here will be Ness’s ninth book, and his sixth for young adults. Two of Ness’s books, A Monster Calls and the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, The Knife of Never Letting Go, are currently in development as films.
The new novel, Ness told PW, “was meant to be a departure” from the serious subject matter of his previous YA offerings. “I was thinking, ‘What if you really did live in a world that was a lot like a YA novel but you weren’t the Chosen One?’ You were not going to fight the vampires or the werewolves or the zombies. You just wanted to go to prom and graduate before somebody blew up the school. Once I had that idea, which made me laugh, the novel came very quickly from there.”
Brosnan, who also edits Neil Gaiman and Rita Williams-Garcia, was already a Ness fan before she read the new manuscript. “I sat down on my couch, and I kept yelling to my husband in the kitchen, ‘I just have to publish this book! It’s the most amazing manuscript!’ I read manuscripts all the time, so it takes an incredibly special story to get me revved up like that.”
The chance to work with Brosnan tipped the scales for Ness, whose previous YA books have all been published by Candlewick Press. “She’s very much a legend and this opportunity was just too good to pass up,” Ness said. “And she read the book and she loved it, which is such an honor. Even when it’s book number nine, you worry what the reaction will be, and her reaction was everything I was hoping for. She understood just what I was trying to get across.”
Because of the forthcoming films, Candlewick will still have Ness on its list. The publisher recently repackaged his Chaos Walking trilogy, which won a shelf’s worth of awards at the time of publication, including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Costa Children’s Book of the Year Prize, and the Booktrust Teenage Prize. The U.S studio Lionsgate (The Hunger Games) has film rights to the trilogy; Oscar-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich; Adaptation) is writing the screenplay.
A Monster Calls, which Ness crafted from an outline written by Siobhan Dowd before her death, is also headed for the screen, starring Liam Neeson and Sigourney Weaver; it is currently filming in northern England. Candlewick will publish a movie tie-in edition.
“What a huge opportunity and exciting honor it will be to see that story brought to screen,” said John Mendelson, svp of sales and digital initiatives. “We look forward to our continued involvement with Patrick’s Candlewick titles and to seeing how his talent and recognition continue to grow.”
“They are super, super lovely people there, and I am so proud of the five books I’ve done with Candlewick,” Ness said. “I have nothing but good things to say about [president and publisher] Karen Lotz, and Kaylan Adair, who was my editor, and is not only terrific but insanely young. She’ll rule publishing one day.”