Debut novelist Helen-Rose Owen has joined the John Jarrold Literary Agency.


Her novel Graceland is a character-driven work about two friends who die during a road trip across America. And then they wake up. The afterlife they find themselves in is almost identical to the real world but with one crucial and devastating difference – there is nobody else there.


What follows is the story of how their relationship struggles under the strain of their situation. The book explores themes of loss, grief, and how to connect with people you love but no longer quite know.


Graceland can be compared to the work of Becky Chambers, Nnedi Okorafor, and Naomi Alderman. Graceland has a complex, dynamic woman in its central role; it explores serious themes with an open heart and a sense of humour; and uses its speculative premise to address ideas rooted in the real world and engage in contemporary culture. It is concerned with how we derive meaning from our lives and how our relationships define, or fail to define, our identities.


Helen-Rose was raised by a punk and a Quaker in the North of England, and has a corresponding knack for disobedience. She moved to Belfast for university where she studied theology, and then lived and worked at Northern Ireland’s oldest peace centre for two years. She recently finished an MA in history where she concentrated on themes of religion, identity and conflict. She has had articles published here and there, but never published any fiction.


John Jarrold said: “This is a novel where the protagonists are dead – but it’s neither a ghost story nor a horror story. The setting is brilliantly realised, as is the multi-layered plot.  It is about how our actions – and reactions – can build and change relationships for the better or the worse.  The way the two initial protagonists – and another character – react both to their situation and to each other is totally engrossing. They aren’t white hat heroes at all, they’re living, breathing (irony intended) human beings with flaws.  And as they explore their situation, we feel both sympathetic and sometimes angry with them. A fascinating new writer whose voice grabs from the first line.”



• May 2nd, 2018 • Posted in News