Just to keep the Harry Potter-related news onslaught trucking along, here’s an interesting item from The Hollywood Reporter noting that with two films yet to go in the boy wizard’s series, Warner Bros. has already figured out who his replacement is going to be. U.K. author Angie Sage’s projected seven-book children’s fantasy series, Septimus Heap—of which three titles have already been published—is apparently going to get the J.K. Rowling treatment at an unannounced date in the future.
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—Nearly a decade ago, Eileen McNally caught an NPR interview with an obscure writer named J.K. Rowling. The book being discussed, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, sounded like fun, so McNally picked it up for her 9-year-old niece.
“I bought it for her to read on the plane home to Buffalo,” said McNally, now director of the Florida Center for the Book at the Broward County Library. “But Shannon read the entire thing standing in line at Disney World. I was flabbergasted. That’s when I knew this was something special.”
Special, indeed. The six Harry Potter books published since 1997 have so far sold more than 325 million copies in 65 languages. They’ve spawned a blockbuster movie franchise and a merchandising empire, and made Rowling, by some reports, richer than the Queen of England.
Scholastic, Rowling’s American publisher, reports the most recent volume, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, sold a stratospheric 6.9 million copies in its first 24 hours, making it the fastest-selling book in history.
Well… have I ever anticipated a book quite this much?
Christmas has come early for the Achievers. I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski (Bloomsbury, August) is a brand new must-have book from the creators of Lebowski Fest. According to the press release, it’s filled with Big Lebowski trivia, cast interviews, interviews with character inspirations (Jeff Dowd, Dude; John Milius, Walter), and a guide to speaking Achiever. The writers talk to the real Dude, and Jeff Bridges writes the into, and contributes artwork! I’m buying one for everyone.
The UK Sunday Herald has a small piece on the book, and information about the first UK Lebowski Fest.
New day, new kid author receives book deal. What is in the cordial? Ever since The Guardian remarked on 11-year-old Nancy Yi Fan’s book deal with HarperCollins, I’ve been noticing more and more new authors with ones at the start of their ages.
This should be disconcerting, but, weirdly, I find it a tiny bit exciting. Super-kids are popping up all over the place—that means kids are reading, right? That means hope is not lost for a Generation Z Catcher in the Rye. It’s on the cards, I can feel it. And so, today we take a brief look at the teenage writers making literary waves across the world.
NANCY YI FAN
Yi Fan shone on Al Roker’s Book Club for Kids segment on Friday’s Today Show. Her Swordbird is Roker’s new club selection, and Yi Fan explained on the show how the book is a fantastical response to global terrorism enacted by warring birds. Yi Fan explains Swordbird‘s inspiration on Today‘s website:
“In school, I was learning about the American Revolution and terrorist attacks. One night, I had a dream about cardinals and blue jays fighting, and of a huge white magical bird. When I woke up, I started writing a story about them to express the importance of peace and freedom.”
Yi Fan wound up with a publishing deal after simply emailing the Swordbird manuscript to HarperCollins chief exec, Jane Friedman. Yi fan was born in China in 1993, and has lived in the US for five years. One of her favourite books is Night by Elie Wiesel. SwordQuest, a prequel to Swordbird, will be out soon.
Thursfield is the granddad of this bunch at 18. His Life’s Cruel Lesson is available on Lulu.com, and is inspired by Tolkien and Philip Putman. The book is about a brother and sister who must decide how to move on after uncovering potentially dangerous family secrets. Thursfield told the UK Gazette that he opted to self-publish because he “wanted to have something I’d created made into a book.” I’m betting Thursfield gets picked up by a major publisher soon. The teen author trend is simply too hot right now, and Thursfield has an added grabber—he’s actually related to his idol, Mr. Tolkien.
Sixteen-year-old May Zhee is the author of teen-chick-lit novels Vanitee Bee and Sweetheart From Hell. Zhee is wild-spirited, and may prove the dark horse as far as staying power goes. Check out her precocious and hilarious blog at mayzhee.blogspot.com. Here’s a sample:
“I have a phobia of balls, rubber bands and guitar strings (on top of tampons and staining myself, of course). All for the same reason: They might hurt my precious face and I would have to pay thousands for plastic surgery. Not to mention my parents will bury me alive after that because I stole their money for surgery.”
This is a girl who revels in her girl-ness. Her books are self-published as well, but the big shots can’t be far away—this one is a phenomenon waiting to happen. A Hannah Montana for the smart, edgy set.
Clark is a kind of 17-year-old Dr. Phil, directing kids to brighter futures. Clark has five books on the market including You’ve Got What it Takes and You Can Change Your World. She is a spokesperson for various children’s charities, and is a devoted church-goer. She has two new books on the way this year—12 Going on 29: Surviving Your Daughter’s Tween Years (from Praeger), co-written with her mum, and Snap 2 It! A Real Girls’ Guide to Keeping a Positive Outlook (SourceBooks). There’s something a bit Kids Inc. meets Go Ask Alice about super-clean Sondra’s advice shilling, but there’s undeniable positivity here that has potential to work wonders.
King is the teenager behind Arianna Kelt and the Wizards of Skyhall, a Reagent Press book about a reformed thief and wizard seer who must protect the Earth from warlocks and other pesky beasts. I can find very little in the way of bio information on King, but he is said to have completed Arianna Kelt at age 12. A sequel is due shortly.
I’m just finishing a review of Jack Dann’s The Man Who Melted, out in a reissue from Pyr. Writing the review has had me thinking about genre fiction I’d like to see come back into print.
If I could bring a title back into print, it would be two by Sterling E. Lanier Hiero’s Journey (1974) and The Unforsaken Hiero (1985). (Ok, that’s technically two titles, but the books are short, and it’s the same series . . . .) These post-apocalyptic works, set in a North America ravaged by nuclear weapons, portray a warrior-priest’s struggle to incorporate science, religion, and new mental powers in the fight to maintain civilization. Lanier handles the psychology of this character, and his telepathic bonds with animals of varying levels of sentience, masterfully.
Growing up, I read borrowed copies of these books dozens of times, and when I found some battered copies at a laundromat-cum-used-books store in Atlanta almost 10 years ago, I was giddy for weeks.
Lanier died on June 28th. Beyond his own fiction, his sculptures of the Tolkien characters ensure his legacy for fans of science fiction and fantasy. I was sorry to learn of his death. (I’m also weirdly irritated that he doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry—the true measure of reputation these days . . . . Cryptomundo has an interesting take on his life, though.)
Update: HTML glitches fixed.