McFly band member turned children's author Tom Fletcher has claimed a “world first” with a musical edition of his highly successful middle-grade novel The Christmasaurus.
Penguin Random House Children’s has described the concept as the “first time an author has written a soundtrack for their novel”. The book and 14-track CD will be released together next month (16th November) retailing at £14.99, with all the songs written and performed by Fletcher.
Meanwhile Fletcher’s wife, author Giovanna Fletcher, together with his McFly bandmate Harry Judd, Busted bandmate Matt Willis and sister Carrie Hope Fletcher will also appear in the 'The Chistmasaurus – Live on Stage'. The show will run at the Eventim Apollo London from 21st to 28th December. The book is also being adapted into an animated film, by director Michael Gracey.
A partnership with Warburtons to offer “exciting and exclusive content” with the baking company is also on the cards, with details still to be announced.
Fletcher told The Bookseller how the idea for the accompanying CD began when he was writing The Christmasaurus, his first middle-grade children’s novel, published by Puffin in October 2016 – which has gone on to sell more than 163,281 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan.
He said: “The whole idea for the book had started because of a song I had written, ‘The Christmasaurus’. Because it had been inspired by a song, I carried on writing songs as I wrote the book. It helped me if there was a moment which matched a song, it felt natural to do that. When I finished the first draft, I had around nine or 10 songs and so I sent it to a few people including Michael Gracey. He contacted me a few days later, and sent over some conceptual art, saying 'let’s make this into a film'. I don’t think we had even done the deal with PRH yet.”
Fletcher believes the combination of music and books will provide a unique experience for the reader. He said: “It is really special to put the two things, [music and books], together. Books fire up your imagination and music touches your emotions in such a special way.”
The author and musician, who revealed a bookclub with WH Smith in September, described PRH Children’s m.d Francesca Dow as “amazing” because of how the publisher invested in the musical recording.
He said: "Francesca was amazing at being so accommodating about our vision. She came on board and invested in the music. I was so pleased that Francesca had shown such enthusiasm and believed in us.”
Dow told The Bookseller: “We are hugely excited about publishing The Christmasaurus, The Musical Edition - combining music and narrative to make a magical storytelling experience, we are so proud to publish this musical edition - a first for the industry - and another example of Tom’s incredible creativity for children. This is the latest in an exciting line up of Christmasaurus experiences that we know fans of the book and beyond will love.”
Fletcher also said the response from shops had been positive and The Bookseller understands that retailers have already ordered a high volume of copies, months before the announcement. He said: “The reaction from retailers has been overwhelming. I try not to pay too much attention but for them to have that faith in me is great, and this is before anyone has heard the recordings."
Fletcher described expanding into publishing as “refreshing” following his background in music, having first performed at the London Palladium aged nine. He said: “People can be jaded in music and there have been so many changes which have had a massive impact. We didn’t have the internet when we first started, now school children can all download it onto their phones. It felt so fresh to come into the world of publishing. It felt like people really cared about what they do. People seem to care about my books as much as I do and I did not feel that in the music business. It is refreshing and now to have that same enthusiasm from publishing about music is amazing.”
He acknowledged that criticism can be difficult – he provoked the ire of some illustrators over copyright concerns in August and his inclusion in this year’s list of World Book Day titles, along with other celebrity authors, was slammed by some in the industry earlier this month.
Fletcher told The Bookseller: “I try not to think about winning the respect of the publishing industry. You invariably get people who are critical and it is really hard to read that and stay motivated. I try to avoid that as much as I can because no one likes to read negative stuff… But I completely understand that, coming from a mainstream pop band, I would need to earn the respect. I still feel I am proving myself but I hope people won’t judge the books before reading them.”
He added: “I had this when I was writing pop music and we had success but we never had the credibility people in rock bands had. We never had the recognition and that was frustrating but knowing kids who are seven or eight are reading it and love it, that is what it is all about.”
Fletcher’s latest book, The Creakers (PRH Children’s) was published on 5th October and has now sold 20,912 copies. The Dinosaur that Pooped a Lot, his World Book Day picture book with McFly bandmate Dougie Poynter, is his most successful, with 220,458 copies sold (all figures according to Nielsen BookScan).