PRESS RELEASE  |   18 May 2017

Little, Brown Book Group imprint Orbit is delighted to announce the acquisition of Smartface, an exceptional debut by Bristol-based author Heather Child.

Senior commissioning editor Jenni Hill acquired world rights in two crossover novels from Julie Crisp of the Julie Crisp Literary Agency, and Smartface will be published by Orbit in summer 2018.

It tells the story of a woman whose virtual assistant takes on the personality of her missing sister – shedding new light on a missing persons case from years before.

Exploring the blurred lines between reality and fantasy, this high-concept thriller examines what happens when smart becomes too smart, when people accumulate so much data online that they can be recreated as data ghosts and lives can be changed by the information they’ve left behind.

Heather Child says: ‘With intelligent assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa becoming commonplace, I wanted to look at what might happen if we willingly handed over control of our lives to algorithms that know us better than we do ourselves. It’s hugely exciting to be working with Orbit on this data-ghost story.’


Julie Crisp says: ‘Heather’s visionary tale of futuristic technology set against the emotional tale of a girl’s search for her lost sister is a brilliant fusing of high-concept ideas with a commercial storyline. With Orbit’s success with authors such as Claire North and M. R. Carey, they are the perfect home for this exciting new author.’


Jenni Hill says: ‘Smartface is a startlingly brilliant and probably (worryingly) quite accurate vision of the future, with completely engaging characters who simply carried me through the novel from beginning to end in record time. The book is so accomplished it is difficult to believe it is a debut, and I know that readers, reviewers and booksellers will be likewise blown away by the talent on show here.’

About Heather Child

Based in Bristol, Heather Child received AHRC funding for an MA in Writing at the University of Warwick in 2008, working with writers including Maureen Freely, Rebecca Abrams and China Miéville. Her work has appeared in a range of literary magazines including Mslexia, the Storgy 2014 Short Story Anthology and Under the Radar online. She is a communications professional and former chartered marketer. Her work on digital marketing has brought her into close contact with the cutting-edge automation and personalisation technologies that herald the ‘big data’ age. Smartface is a debut novel.

About Little, Brown Book Group

Four-time winner of the Publisher of the Year Award, most recently in 2014, Little, Brown is one of the UK’s most successful and diverse publishers. Our thirteen imprints consist of: Abacus; Atom; Blackfriars; Constable; Corsair; Fleet; Hachette Digital; Little, Brown; Orbit; Piatkus; Robinson; Sphere and Virago. Little, Brown Book Group has been part of the Hachette UK group since 2006. Further information can be found at www.littlebrown.co.uk.

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