Len Vlahos, a former president of the American Booksellers Association (ABA), has a UK publishing deal for his next children’s book, Life in a Fishbowl.
The YA novel, which will be published by Bloomsbury Children’s in January, is about a girl called Jackie whose father decides to sell his life online after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis.
Vlahos told The Bookseller he was inspired by Ian Usher, who sold all his belongings on eBay in 2008 after a divorce.
“I wondered what would drive someone to do this,” said Vlahos. “I wanted to look at the family but also all the people who bid on for Jackie’s father’s life. Even the brain tumour is a character in the story.
“It’s not a cancer novel but it does cover some heavy issues. I’d say it’s for readers aged 14 and up but it definitely crosses over. It could have been published as an adult book.”
This novel is Vlahos’ third children’s/YA book but his first for Bloomsbury, which has global English language rights and has already sold the book in 17 countries. He said working with the publisher has been an “amazing experience” but pointed out he “doesn’t write for the money... I was with the ABA for 20 years, which was really helpful in managing expectations about how books sell!"
He said he “sadly” can’t write for the market, however. “My first book was a hard-sell. It was YA with a boy protagonist. Even though I know the market pretty well, that’s not what inspires me to write.”
Bloomsbury Children’s will publish Life in a Fishbowl on 3rd January in the US and 12th January in the UK (p/b, £7.99).