World English Rights have gone to Burning Chair for the former assistant to Queen Rania and author long listed for The Caledonia Prize Lucy Hooft‘s THE KING’S PAWN and THE HEAD OF THE SNAKE, the first two books in the Sarah Black spy series, based on the author’s real-life experiences.

The series follows the career of a spy who begins as a naïve young graduate, enticed into a career with MI6 (or so she thinks) by a silver-tongued spook; struggling to understand her place in her mentor’s murky hierarchy.

The first novel sees Sarah sent to the Caucasus by Michael, the head of an off-the-books operational section of MI6. She is being used as an expendable and deniable agent, but through her natural pluck (and a hefty dose of luck) she survives and uncovers the real villain and a Russian plot to assassinate the Georgian and US Presidents.

In the second book, Sarah – still inexperienced but significantly tougher with the confidence of a lucky start behind her – strikes out on her own without Michael’s help to war-torn Sierra Leone to bring the villain of book 1 to justice.

Lucy studied languages and philosophy at Oxford and joined the Foreign Office straight out of university in search of adventure and new people and places. She quickly moved across to the Department for International Development (DFID), where she spent time in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, China and Sierra Leone. She left Sierra Leone to join her now husband in Jordan, taking the long way there across the Sahara, Europe, the Balkans, Turkey and Syria in a much-beloved Land Rover. In Jordan, she worked for Her Majesty Queen Rania while spending much time bumping around the phenomenal Jordanian desert.

After Jordan, she spent several years in a jungle camp in Gabon surrounded by elephants and humpback whales, which is where the Sarah Black books began. They took life, as a way to record all the best bits of people she had met and places she had been, with a plot to make them much more exciting. Lucy has always plausibly denied being a spy—but she wrote the books to show what that life might have been like.

She now lives at the end of the world in Lüderitz, Namibia, crafting stories and making films about the adventure of growing giant kelp.

THE KING’S PAWN will publish in 2022 followed by THE HEAD OF THE SNAKE in 2023.