We’re thrilled to announce that Sunburn, the debut novel by Chloe Michelle Howarth, has been acquired by Verve Books. UK & Commonwealth rights (ex. Canada) were acquired by editor Jenna Gordon from Northbank fiction agent Hannah Weatherill. Sunburn was named by the Evening Standard as one to watch in 2023.
Combining the intensity of Megan Nolan’s Acts of Desperation, the long hot summer of André Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name and the female friendships of Anna Hope’s Expectation, Sunburn is an astute and tender portrayal of first love, adolescent anxiety and the realities of growing up in a small town where tradition holds people tightly in its grasp. Set in the 1990s, the novel depicts a past that feels both nostalgic and uncomfortably close, and will resonate with readers who have felt marginalised in the place they were supposed to feel most at home – especially those who did not grow up in large and progressive cities. Protagonist Lucy’s sharp and youthfully self-absorbed narrative ultimately tells a hopeful story of personal growth and self-acceptance as Lucy embraces her sexual identity.
“I’m hoping the book will connect with queer people, Irish people and anybody looking for some 90s nostalgia.”
Howarth grew up in the West Cork countryside, which has served as an inspiration for her writing. She attended university at IADT in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, where she studied English, Media and Cultural Studies. She currently lives in Brighton.
‘I feel I’ve found a great home for Sunburn with Verve, who are excited about LGBTQIA+ literature and take it seriously,’ says Howarth. ‘I’m hoping the book will connect with queer people, Irish people and anybody looking for some 90s nostalgia.’
Gordon adds: ‘As hot and visceral as the title suggests, Sunburn is set to be a fantastic addition to our summer 2023 list, and we’re excited to be providing a platform for a fresh, new voice in fiction.’
Verve Books will publish print and digital formats in June 2023, coinciding with UK Pride Month celebrations, and are planning to celebrate with launch events in Brighton and London.