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Hot Key Books steps up to the mic with hot new talent Nathanael Lessore

Hot Key Books, an imprint of Bonnier Books UK, battled it out in a highly contested four-way auction to acquire two contemporary teen novels from exciting new talent Nathanael Lessore.

Ella Whiddett, editor, and Ruth Bennett, senior commissioning editor, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Clare Wallace at Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency.

Steady For This is the first of the two standalone novels and is a celebration of teen friendship, rap music and finding your voice set in South East London. When Shaun, aka MC Growls, goes viral for all the wrong reasons, he doesn’t give up on his dream to use his bars to take the world by storm. But it’s an unexpected friendship that will unlock Growls’ true ambitions.

Ella Whiddett said: “From the first page of Steady For This, we knew we were reading something very special. Not only were we belly laughing from the get-go, but we were blown away by how Nathanael writes with such humour and heart. His skill for capturing the vibrancy – and awkwardness! – of being a teenager is unmatched. We can’t wait for everyone to fall in love with Growls the way we have.”

Nathanael Lessore said: “Growing up and going to school in Peckham as an ethnic minority, the connotation was always that we were troubled, unruly kids with difficult lives. But we were honestly very happy, we hung out and we laughed all day. I wrote Steady For This with the dream that kids like me might see themselves represented in a positive and authentic way. Hot Key are turning that dream into a reality. Ella and Ruth have such a deep understanding of these characters, their motivations, and their world. I was also lucky enough to land an agent who believed in Steady For This and in me as a writer. Having Clare in my corner is truly priceless. I do believe that home is where the heart is, and I am beyond happy to have found the perfect publishing home for Growls and my writing.”

Clare Wallace said: “Nathanael has such a standout voice: fresh, funny, tender, and hugely skilful. He’s a future star and I’m so thrilled that he and Growls have found such stellar publishing champions in Ruth and Ella and the whole Hot Key team.”

Nathanael Lessore was born in Camberwell, South East London, as one of eight children to French and Madagascan parents. Although he spent most of his life in Peckham, Nathanael has also lived in Paris, Strasbourg, and Singapore. Nathanael became a Marketing Executive after graduating from the University of East London, believing at the time that a Creative Writing degree destined him for a career in marketing. Steady For This is his debut and writing it gave him the opportunity to show his Southeast London childhood as the funny, warm, adventurous world that wasn’t always represented as such.

Steady For This will publish in paperback, e-book, and audio on 27th April 2023 with the second title publishing in 2024.