The debut novel by Canadian author Nita Prose, The maidbecame a New York Times and Canadian bestseller just weeks after its January 4 release.
The long-time Toronto publisher is currently Vice President and Editorial Director of Simon & Schuster, a publishing house that boasts such acclaimed authors as body at home and milk and honey author Rupi Kaur, and Long road Down and Look both ways author Jason Reynolds, among others.
“The day [The Maid] was published was a very important moment because it was no longer mine. It was now something that belonged to the readers,” Prose told CBC News. “I will never read it the same way again.”
Prose is the latest industry professional to become a best-selling author, following in the footsteps of compatriot Ashley Audrain and her debut novel, The thrust, which was released in 2021.
LISTEN | Why Nita Prose calls her novel The Maid a “deadly mystery with a lot of heart”:
2:40Nita Prose on The Maid
A thriller “
The maid, published by Penguin Random House Canada, is a gripping mystery about a clumsy but perfectionist maid, Molly, who becomes the prime suspect in a murder case after finding a man dead in her hotel room.
“It’s a novel about what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet completely different. I consider it a thriller,” Prose said.
“Maybe it’s a little different too, because the mystery can only be solved by connecting to Molly’s human heart.”
The story struck the author like “love at first sight”
In 2019, Prose was staying at a hotel while on a business trip to London. One evening, on returning to her room, she said that she completely surprised the hotel maid.
“I remember her backing into a dark corner, and the embarrassing part is she had my sweatpants in her hands, which I had left like a fool in a tangled mess on my bed.”
It was then that Prose realized how much being a maid was such an intimate and invisible job. On the plane ride home, her main character came to her like a “lightning bolt,” she said.
“Molly’s voice was clear, crisp and precise. I had no paper so I grabbed the napkin under my drink and wrote the prologue to The maid in one burst,” she said.
“I hadn’t realized that I was actually starting my first novel.”
Strike just at the right time
Novels like The maid can debut well with planning and timing, said Haley Cullingham, managing editor at Hazlitt and Strange Light and managing editor at Toronto-based McClelland & Stewart.
“Basically, it’s this perfect moment of a really wonderful script and great marketing and publicity,” she said. “Things work when every part of the process comes together and strikes at just the right time.”
She also talked about the importance of a powerful character to the audience – the fundamental quality of a good story.
“We see people reacting to a powerful character and voice. It’s something that really captures people and the idea of something that creates a sense of community.”
Toronto writer from A hero of our time, Naben Ruthnum, who also writes under the pen name Nathan Ripley, says a good story has two characteristics: a protagonist that audiences can connect to, and a driving story that can be translated into different formats.
“It’s a feature of a story that I think The maid a, you can tell that story out loud or on screen, and it’s just as exciting as it is on the page.”
‘The Maid’ gets a new life on screen
Universal Pictures also picked up Prose’s book before publication to adapt it into a film, although a release date has not been announced. Oscar nominee Florence Pugh is set to play the film’s lead character, according to deadline.
the Midsommar and Little woman The star is also set to executive produce the film, alongside Prose.
“I’m incredibly lucky because the people I’ve worked with so far have taken my material and amplified it in ways I could never have dreamed of,” Prose said.