Walker Books and Walker Books US have jointly acquired a middle-grade fantasy trilogy from CBeebies actor Joseph Elliott.
Annalie Grainger, commissioning editor of Walker Books UK, and Susan Van Metre, executive editorial director of Walker US, acquired World English language rights in a six-figure pre-empt from Claire Wilson at RCW for three books in the Shadow Skye trilogy. Book one, The Good Hawk, will publish simultaneously in the UK and US in autumn 2019. Books two and three will follow in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
A "rich fantasy trilogy" aimed at readers of 10+, The Good Hawk is set in a pseudo-Britain, during an age of warring clans and devastating plagues. Protagonist Agatha has Down’s syndrome in a world where her condition is unnamed.
Agatha is a good Hawk. She patrols the sea wall, and does it with pride, no matter what anyone else says about her right to be there. But when disaster strikes and her clan is brutally swept away in the longboats of an invading deamhanan horde, she must leave the island and team up with the only other survivors – Jaime, a skinny teenage Angler, afraid of the sea, and Lileas, a nine-year-old child bride – to try and find a way of rescuing the only family they have ever known.
Elliott is an actor well known for his work in children’s television including CBeebies series "Swashbuckle". Prior to becoming an actor, Elliott worked at a play scheme for children with special educational needs, and then spent four years teaching at Westminster Special Schools. His experience lay primarily in working with children who have ASD and Down's syndrome; he wrote stories and plays for them, and also directed them in live performances. The children he met during this time were the inspiration behind his protagonist in The Good Hawk.
Karen Lotz, group managing director, said: “It is such a pleasure to welcome Joseph Elliott and his stirring, empathetic story to our global list. We could not ask for a more universally appealing first acquisition for Walker Books and our new Walker Books US division to collaborate on together.”
Grainger said: “The Good Hawk is a terrific fantasy novel with the addition of a fabulous heroine with particular challenges and even greater strengths. The world building and characterization are wonderful, and we were swept up in this story from the beginning. Joseph is such a talented writer, and this is classic fantasy storytelling at its very best.”
Elliot said: “To be published by Walker Books in the UK and the US is an absolute dream come true; I could not have hoped for a more enthusiastic response to my debut novel. This is the start of a very exciting journey for us all.”