Usborne buys Joan Aiken competition winner after three-way auction

Usborne buys Joan Aiken competition winner after three-way auction

Usborne has acquired Tim Ellis’ debut novel, winner of the 2017 Joan Aiken Future Classics Prize, in a three-way auction.

Fiction editor Rebecca Hill acquired world English rights to Harklights from agent Julia Churchill at AM Heath Literary. The deal marks the first time Hill has struck a deal with an author-illustrator in what Usborne describes as an “exciting new step” for its fiction list.

“With stunning writing and beautiful illustrations, Tim has created an adventure that thrums with an otherworldly magic all of its own,” said Hill. “Harklights is a thought‐provoking read about finding your place in the world and about protecting the things you love, which will resonate with readers both young and old.”

The middle-grade novel is about a boy called Wick, who lives at the Harklights Match Factory and Orphanage. One day he rescues a tiny baby, small enough to fit inside an acorn, and discovers the Hobs, a miniature race who are the caretakers of the forest.

Ellis studied illustration at Anglia Ruskin University and now teaches the children’s book illustration course at City Lit in London. His book will be published in 2020.