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Story of ‘bloodthirsty unicorns’ brings debut author record publishing deal

theguardian.com – Thursday September 17, 2020

A 28-year-old first-time author from Canterbury has landed what is believed to be the world’s largest ever book advance for a debut children’s writer, with a fantasy series about “bloodthirsty unicorns”.

Annabel Steadman, writing as AF Steadman, was paid a “major” seven-figure sum by Simon & Schuster this week, following a hotly contested multi-publisher auction for three books in her fantasy adventure series for children, Skandar and the Unicorn Thief. Set in a world where unicorns are deadly, and can only be tamed by the rider who hatches them, the series follows Skandar Smith, who is preparing to become a unicorn rider. When the most powerful unicorn in the world is stolen by a mysterious figure, becoming a rider becomes a lot more complicated than Skandar ancitipated.

“Unicorns don’t belong in fairytales; they belong in nightmares,” writes Steadman as the series opens. The unicorns in her books are “not at all like the unicorns we know in shops, these fluffy unicorns with rainbows, they’re different and exciting and magical but also dangerous,” she says.

Simon & Schuster, which will publish the first book in the series in spring 2022, said the deal was believed to be record-breaking for a debut children’s author. Sony Pictures has also signed an “aggressive” seven-figure deal for the feature film rights in the series, which is aimed at readers of nine and over.

To read the full article on theguardian.com, click here

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