NEW YORK (AP) — Harlequin, the publisher synonymous with romance novels, is anxious to show off its literary side.
The publisher told The Associated Press on Friday that it is launching an imprint called Park Row Books, dedicated to "thought-provoking and voice-driven novels" that have "mainstream appeal." The first books are scheduled for the summer of 2017. Harlequin has previously issued more literary works through its MIRA imprint, notably Jason Mott's "The Returned," but sees Park Row as a more effective showcase.
"We've been growing that part of our business for a very long time," says Erika Imranyi, Park Row's executive editor. "It's a small piece of what we do, but a really important piece."
Park Row is named for the street in downtown Manhattan where Harlequin's New York office was once located. Harlequin, where imprints range from mystery stories to Christian themes, was purchased by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. in 2014 and now is part of HarperCollins Publishers.
Hoping that a successful book can sell tens of thousands of copies, Imranyi doesn't have the same commercial expectations for Park Row books that she might have for traditional Harlequin fiction, which often sells hundreds of thousands of copies. But she is willing to spend money for the right book. Park Row plans to debut with Benjamin Ludwig's "The Improbable Flight of Ginny Moon," acquired earlier this year in a six-figure deal. Formerly titled "Forever Girl," the novel tells of an autistic teen so anxious to reconnect with her birth mother she plots to be kidnapped by her.
"Improbable Flight" has been billed as a combination of Emma Donoghue's "Room" and Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."
"We see it as a poignant and uplifting story," Imranyi says.
Other scheduled works include thrillers by Mary Kubica and Heather Gudenkauf, a new novel from prize-winning Canadian author Christopher Meades and British author Elizabeth Heathcote's "Undertow."