HopeRoad signs Garrard’s ‘gritty and exciting’ novel 21 Miles



HopeRoad has signed 21 Miles by Nicola Garrard, whose debut YA novel 29 Locks with HopeRoad was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize and the Mslexia Children’s Novel competition and longlisted for the Branford Boase Award.

Publisher Rosemarie Hudson bought world English language rights from Abi Fellows at The Good Literary Agency. It will be published as an £8.99 paperback original on 28th September 2023.

Hudson describes the novel as “a gritty and exciting contemporary adventure about teenagers and teenage refugees” and a “great new take on the traditional role swap”.

“It’s a tender yet unflinching depiction of friendship and resilience against the odds. Garrard touches on other topical issues such as the ’Windrush’ Scandal, climate crisis, looked-after children, and child criminal exploitation. And with her extensive background in teaching, 21 Miles is also suitable as a PSHE/English classroom resource for Year 7 and up/age 11+. I’m excited and proud to be publishing such fresh storytelling. And with the generous help of those who are supporting our crowdfunding initiative, I hope we can continue to do so at HopeRoad.”

Garrard, who works with the charity Minority Matters, said: “In 2014 I read a news article about the suffering of separated child refugees in Calais, just 21 miles from our coast. I filled my small campervan with donations and clothing and took these essentials to Calais a number of times, volunteering with a grassroots French refugee charity.

“On one occasion, I met a small 13-year-old Eritrean girl in Calais who begged me to take her to England where she had family. Fearing for her safely, I desperately wanted to help. But I didn’t agree to take her. People-smuggling is against the law: I might have lost my career, been fined, and sent to prison. It was the right decision. But after we lost touch, I was left with the ‘what if’ of her request.

“Since 29 Locks was published, readers often ask me what happens next to Donny. The result is 21 Miles, where we find Donny wanting to help Amin, a teenage refugee in Calais, reunite with his family in Britain. He lends Amin his passport and they swap clothes. After all, what could possibly go wrong?”