Macmillan Children’s Books has won a six-way auction for a series by M G Leonard, author of the Beetle Boy trilogy (Chicken House), and digital producer Sam Sedgman.
The series, provisionally entitled Adventures on Trains, will follow the journeys of eleven-year-old Harrison Beck and his uncle Nathaniel Bradshaw, a travel writer. The pair go on a different adventure in each book and become embroiled in a story about a jewel thief in the first title, The Highland Falcon.
Venetia Gosling, publisher of Macmillan’s Children’s Books’ 6+ list, acquired world rights to four titles from Kirsty McLachlan at David Godwin Associates. The books will be edited by Lucy Pearse and published in March and September in 2020 and 2021.
Macmillan will also publish the series in Australia, South Africa, India and the US.
“This is such a clever and commercial idea and I can't think of two more perfect people to write and promote it,” said Gosling. “We are so excited to work with Maya and Sam to build this into the leading fiction series it totally deserves to be.”
Leonard and Sedgman met whilst working at the National Theatre and have worked on various digital projects for the cultural sector.
“My oldest son loved Thomas the Tank Engine – and all trains – when he was little. His vocabulary was rich with railway terms, but when he was ready to read by himself I couldn’t find stories that would utilise this passion for trains to begin a love of reading,” said Leonard. “I wanted to create those stories for him and other children who love locomotives, but I didn’t know the first thing about trains. One evening I told my colleague and writer friend, Sam Sedgman, about the idea, because I knew he was a fan of railway maps and the London Underground. He became excited about the story possibilities and we spent the evening spit-balling the idea. I suggested we write Adventures on Trains together, as I knew I could never write it on my own, and he, rather wonderfully, agreed.”
Leonard is also writing another children’s book for Chicken House, due for publication in 2019, and is adapting her Beetle Boy series for TV.
Sedgman is a digital project manager for the National Theatre, where he also hosts and co-produces their podcast.