Renée crime fiction debut sells to UK in two-book deal

Nadine Rubin Nathan at High Spot Literary has sold world English-language rights (ex NZ) to two crime novels, The Wild Card and Blood Matters (The Cuba Press), by Māori writer Renée Taylor, known mononymously as Renée, to UK independent Joffe Books.

Published in 2018 when the author was 90, Renée’s crime fiction debut. The Wild Card was shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Awards in 2020; the sequence Blood Matterswill be released in NZ in late 2022.

A prolific writer of memoir, fiction, poetry and plays, Renée was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature and drama in 2006. Describing herself as ‘a lesbian feminist with socialist working-class ideals’, Renée places the experiences of women and the concerns of working-class people and Māori at the center of all her work.

The Wild Card tells the story of Ruby, who has spent 20 years trying to shake her suspicions that her childhood best friend was murdered. As soon as Ruby begins to investigate, strange things start to happen. A man in a balaclava attacks her, someone tears up her apartment, and there are a series of break-ins at the local theater where she’s playing Lady Bracknell in. The Importance of Being Earnest. The deeper Ruby goes into the mystery of Betty’s death, the more questions emerge about herself—questions she’d never dared to ask before.

Renée says she is ‘totally chuffed’ about the two-book deal. ‘It’s fabulous to know the rights for The Wild Card and Blood Matters to publish in English around the world have been bought by the amazing Joffe Books. Thank you Mary McCallum and Sarah Bolland (The Cuba Press) and Nadine Rubin Nathan of High Spot Literary for making it happen.’

McCallum says: ‘Joffe champions crime authors from diverse communities, and Renée is a Māori takatāpui (LGBTQIA+) writer, who has always written with women, Māori and takatāpui characters center stage. It’s exciting to see her work taken out of New Zealand and into the rest of the world.’

Joffe Books editorial director Emma Grundy Haigh says: ‘I’m utterly delighted to be publishing. The Wild Card by Renee. I think I fell in love as much with the novel as I did with the author: one of New Zealand’s literary legends, Renée’s boundless energy, compassion and sheer sagacity are infectious. And her first foray into crime fiction is a brilliantly twisty, darkly witty and completely addictive page-turner that I simply couldn’t put down. I can’t wait to introduce her to a world of new readers!’

Joffe Books will publish The Wild Card and Blood Matters in ebook and paperback in the UK in autumn 2022.

Image credit: Claudia Latisnere.

Category: Local news

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