Simon & Schuster Children’s Books has acquired two YA novels from Benjamin Dean, author of middle-grade debut Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow.
Amina Youssef, commissioning editor, bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Chloe Seager at the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency. Set to publish in July 2022, The King is Dead is described as an "unputdownable" Black LGBTQ+ thriller, set against the backdrop of a uniquely reimagined royal family.
Youssef said: "Ben is a hugely exciting new voice and he’s brimming with ideas. All I had to do was read the pitch for The King is Dead and I was sold: a page-turning mystery, juicy secrets, the first sparks of love – and at the book’s heart is an important message about racism and prejudice and what it really means to be the first queer Black monarch on the throne. We’re so thrilled to be launching this knockout YA strand, alongside Ben’s critically acclaimed middle-grade.’
Dean said: "I couldn’t be more excited to venture into the YA space with The King is Dead. For so long, I’ve wanted to create a royal thriller with a Black and queer king at its heart, and exploring the character of a reluctant monarch with a lot to lose gave me so much to play with. I can’t wait for readers to step through the gates of Buckingham Palace and into a world of secrets, lies and royal deception."
Literary agent Chloe Seager added: "The moment Ben mentioned this idea I knew he had to write it. The King is Dead is going to be one of the most electrifying YA debuts of the year, from one of the most exciting and talented new authors."
Dean's first middle-grade book was selected as Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month. His second book for this readership, The Secret Sunshine Project, will publish in March 2022.