Egmont has pre-empted a new beastly series in a three-book six-figure deal, described as “a natural successor to the genius of Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket”.
Editorial director Lindsey Heaven, commissioning editor Liz Bankes and fiction publishing director Ali Dougal pre-empted a six-figure three-book deal for world (excluding US/Canada) translation rights, with Rachel Mann of Jo Unwin Literary Agency for the “mischievously macabre and funny middle-grade debut” by Jack Meggitt-Phillips.
The Beast and the Bethany will be Egmont’s biggest new fiction title for Frankfurt Book Fair 2019 and will be driven by a far-reaching marketing and PR campaign. The first book will launch in Autumn 2020 in paperback with lavish cover finishes and illustrations throughout.
“Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old. He keeps a beast in the attic of his mansion, who he feeds all manner of things (including performing monkeys, his pet cat and the occasional cactus) and in return the beast vomits out presents for Ebenezer, as well as potions which keep him young and beautiful,” the synopsis reads. “But the beast grows ever greedier, and soon only a nice, juicy child will do. So when Ebenezer encounters orphan Bethany, it seems like (everlasting) life will go on as normal. But Bethany is not your average orphan . . .”
Ali Dougal said: “We find that taking a collaborative approach to things pays off, never more so than in winning The Beast and the Bethany – a book that speaks to our love of the anarchic and unexpected – and bringing Jack, an exceptional new talent, to our list. Unlike Ebeneezer Tweezer, Lindsey, Liz and I, and the whole of the wider Egmont team, are going to enjoy feeding the beast for a very long time.”
London-based Meggitt-Phillips, an author, scriptwriter and playwright is “an incredibly exciting new talent”, said Egmont.
Meggitt-Phillips, whose work has been performed at The Roundhouse and featured on Radio 4 , said: “If it were not for Egmont and a certain Mr. Snicket, it’s likely that I would have never taken to reading, let alone writing. The publisher has unparalleled success in turning children into readers, and the team’s vision for the book is as delightful and as gruesome as I could have possibly hoped. The Beast, The Bethany, and I are thrilled with our new home.”
The first title in the series will publish in Autumn 2020 in paperback, at £6.99, for children aged 8-12 years old.
Read an exclusive extract from The Beast and the Bethany here.