Andersen Press scoops fiction debut from Quarto's Cotton

Andersen Press scoops fiction debut from Quarto's Cotton

Andersen Press has scooped the fiction debut of Katie Cotton, group publisher at the Quarto Group.

Charlie Sheppard, publishing director, bought world rights for The Secret of Splint Hall from Penny Holroyde. It will be released in paperback in March 2022. Cotton has previously penned Bricks, illustrated by Tor Freeman, also published by Andersen Press in 2020.

The synopsis for her first fiction book says: "Set in 1945, war has ended, but for sisters Flora and Isobel the struggles still continue. They’ve lost their father and had their home destroyed in a bombing raid, and now they must go to live with their aunt and her awful husband Mr Godfrey in their ancestral home, Splint Hall.

"From the moment of their arrival it seems that this is a place shrouded in mysteries and secrets. Who are the strange men who arrive with packages at night? What is the source of the strange blue sparks coming from the ground? And why do the locals seem to hate their family so much? As the girls begin to unearth an ancient myth and family secret, the adventure of a lifetime begins. Goodnight Mr Tom meets Dragon Mountain in this future classic adventure from an exciting new talent."

Cotton said: “I’ve always wondered what it might be like to have been a child during the war. Would you believe the grown-ups when they told you it was all over? Or would living with air-raids when you were very young always leave you nervous, thinking that war was just around the corner? I started out wanting to know about Isobel and Flora (the girls in the story, aged 10 and 13 respectively) and how the war had affected them. With the careful insightful edits of my publisher Charlie, we were able to get the rest of their story in place.

"The Secret of Splint Hall is (I hope) a fun adventure. But at its heart is a deeper question: how do we find the strength to go on fighting when we know that evil will return? The answer is, as Isobel discovers, because there is a lot worth fighting for."

Sheppard said: “Katie is a storyteller to her core and her fiction debut has all the hallmarks of a children’s classic. It’s polished, intelligent but, above all else, it’s a fabulous adventure.”