Maddie Mortimer's extraordinary debut Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies to be published by Picador

The debut author's novel about motherhood, anatomy, language and the darkness within us all will publish in 2022. 

27/10/2020
4 minutes to read

Sophie Jonathan, Editorial Director at Picador, has acquired UK and Commonwealth print, digital and audio rights in Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by debut author Maddie Mortimer from Zoë Waldie at RCW in a hotly-contested auction. Rights have also sold in the US (Scribner), Netherlands (De Arbeiderspers), Germany (Hoffmann und Campe), Hungary (Szazad), Norway (Cappelen Damm), Romania (Nemira) and Russia (Eksmo).

Sophie Jonathan, Editorial Director at Picador, has acquired UK and Commonwealth print, digital and audio rights in Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by debut author Maddie Mortimer from Zoë Waldie at RCW in a hotly-contested auction. Rights have also sold in the US (Scribner), Netherlands (De Arbeiderspers), Germany (Hoffmann und Campe), Hungary (Szazad), Norway (Cappelen Damm), Romania (Nemira) and Russia (Eksmo).

 Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is about a family coming to terms with the unthinkable: the death of a mother. Lia’s cancer has returned, and in the last months of her life, she is determined to keep the landscapes of her past, her present and her body separate. But bodies are porous, unpredictable places. . . 

 Lia’s story is told, in part, by the very thing that’s killing her; a malevolent voice that wanders her systems, learning her life from the inside-out. The novel moves between her past and her present as we come to understand the people that have shaped this extraordinary woman; her difficult mother, never very good at loving Lia, her beloved daughter, Iris, navigating life at a new school, her gentle husband and troubled ex-lover. In turn they each take up their place in the battle raging within Lia’s body, at the centre of which dances the murderous narrator and a character nicknamed ‘Red’; the toxic chemo that is Lia’s last hope. 

 Playful and funny, profound and heart-breaking, this is a daring debut about motherhood, anatomy, language and the darkness within us all.

 Sophie Jonathan said:

 ‘Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is extraordinary – I’ve never read anything quite like it. It is wonderful for its wit, for its cleverness, for its portrait of the particular sharp brilliance and pride and pain of motherhood. Each character is so vividly realized, each relationship so perfectly complex. But this book is also incredibly brave: Maddie’s novel moves into the very body of her protagonist where the fight for Lia’s life is taking place against an arch-villain. At times Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies feels euphoric, cataclysmic – I found myself pausing just to step back and take it all in, to stare open-mouthed at the achievement of it. But you can’t put it down for long. This novel is compelling, perfectly plotted, so carefully stitched together that each note lands like a drop of water – singing. I have cried each time I have read it, and yet immediately wanted to return to the beginning and start all over again. Maddie is an astonishing talent and I’m just thrilled that Picador will be the publisher to launch her literary career.’

 Maddie Mortimer said:

 ‘The response to Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies has blown me away. I have loved every minute of writing it, of living with and serving these characters as best I can, and I now feel incredibly lucky to have found a home for them at Picador. I have no doubt that Sophie and the rest of the team will do a brilliant job of guiding this book into the world, just as my remarkable agent Zoë and the team at RCW have carried it here with such care. The whole process has been what debut novelists dream of. I will never forget it.’  

 Picador will publish Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies as their super-lead debut fiction launch of 2022.

 Maddie Mortimer was born in London in 1996. She received her BA in English Literature from the University of Bristol. Her writing has featured in The Times and her short films have screened at festivals around the world.  She is co-writing a TV series currently in development with Various Artists Ltd.  In 2019 she completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course.  Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is her first novel.


Photo credit: © Ben Mankin