Announcing our acquisition of another brilliant Kelleher novel!

From Books+Publishing, January 12, 2023:

Christmas Press has acquired world rights to The Cave, an upper middle-grade novel by Victor Kelleher, via Margaret Connolly of Margaret Connolly and Associates.

Described by Christmas Press publishing director Sophie Masson as an ‘extraordinary adventure’ exploring loss, survival and courage, The Cave is set in the Palaeolithic times and follows teenagers Irian and Ulana who, with their Clan, have made a cave their home ever since they used fire to drive off the Beast—a savage sabre-toothed tiger.

Protected by an ongoing fire at the cave mouth, they continue to keep the Beast at bay until one fateful night when the fire goes out. What happens next shatters the Clan and leaves Ulana badly injured and Irian too traumatised even to speak. Alone and adrift, they have little hope of survival, until a chance meeting with a prickly old woman called Trug who, grudgingly, takes them on a journey of discovery, flinging them into the many wonders and hard realities of ancient times.

Explaining the genesis of the novel, Kelleher said: ‘For almost as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by pre-history. In particular by the question of how our early ancestors, starting out as helpless wanderers on the plains of Africa, went on to become secure cave dwellers and greatly feared hunters. How did this great change come about? Clearly, the discovery of fire must have played a part. And so, too, the creation of better weapons and tools. But how did the change actually occur? That’s precisely the story I’ve tried to tell in The Cave.’

Said Masson: ‘Last year, we had the great delight of publishing Wanderer, Victor Kelleher’s first new middle-grade novel for over fifteen years, to great reader acclaim and excellent reviews. Its success also saw the author reinvigorated to create more works for middle-grade readers, and The Cave is the brilliant result … As compelling, exciting and thoughtful as Wanderer, it too is sure to find many, many readers.’

The middle-grade novel is set to be published in April 2024 under the Eagle Books imprint.

Category: Junior Local news Rights and acquisitions

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Season’s greetings!

We wish all our authors, illustrators, readers, friends and supporters the very best for the festive season, and thank you for your support in 2022. Next year will be the 10th anniversary year of Christmas Press, and we’ll have lots of fantastic things happening, including here at Eagle Books–watch this space! In the meantime, check out the two fabulous Eagle Books titles published this year, Michael Grey’s Children of the Wild and Victor Kelleher’s Wanderer: both engrossing adventures just perfect for holiday reading!

Announcing our Eagle Books title for 2023

We’re delighted to announce the acquisition of our next Eagle Books title, which will be published in May 2023: it’s The Key to Rome, a new novel for middle-grade readers by multi-award-winning author Sophie Masson.

Set in AD/CE 84, in the Roman province of Britannia, The Key to Rome is an exciting historical mystery that takes the reader on an enthralling ride into a very different world.

Twelve-year-old orphan Livia has to keep a promise made to her late father: to take a mysterious key to her estranged uncle Marcus.  She sets out with the key, her old horse Pegasus and her father’s doctoring kit, only to learn that her uncle has left for a town further north.

By the time she reaches it, her uncle has gone, and she can’t find out where–until a boy named Mato informs her that he knows. But he refuses to tell her unless she takes him with her. As the two young people journey on the trail of Livia’s uncle, they start to suspect that the key holds a very dangerous secret. And now Livia and Mato must keep their wits about them, in a deadly game of cat and mouse. But figuring out who is friend, and who is foe, is the greatest challenge of all…

Here’s the fabulous cover, created by Lorena Carrington. Isn’t it gorgeous!

A lovely new review for Wanderer on Read Plus!

We are delighted to see this fabulous review by Carolyn Hull, of Victor Kelleher’s gorgeous novel Wanderer, published today on the excellent Read Plus site.

Here’s a short extract:

I loved this! It is a wonderful adventure in a world that is damaged. Wanderer is a compelling tale, scary and often thought-provoking……This book is powerfully written, there is tension and drama all the way through the wandering, and moments of violence are ever present and pervasive. In some ways I reflected that this book is like a strange mating of the Brotherband series by John Flanagan and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It explores the adventure of a quest, with the drama of a world that has lost its connection to literature. Along the way there are references to other ‘stories’ and other books, with a reference to Golding’s Lord of the Flies as a notable connection to the thematic exploration of brutality in society, and The Hobbit as a literature example of a quest to protect something precious. 

You can read the whole review here.

The Secret Battle longlisted for ARA Historical Novel Prize!

We’re excited to announce that Pamela Rushby’s fabulous middle-grade novel The Secret Battle, which we published last year, has been longlisted by the Historical Novel Society of Australasia for the 2022 ARA Historical Novel Prize in the CYA (Children’s and Young Adult) category.

This year’s Longlists explore a diverse range of powerful themes, from reinvention and the meaning of truth, through to mischievous, fast-paced fables and the recasting of literary classics. The Longlists demonstrate the power of historical fiction to bring the past vividly to life, explore often unspoken truths, and illuminate the challenges faced by humankind throughout the centuries.

The Prize is a true celebration of historical fiction, and a real opportunity to foster the genre on a grander scale, and we are very proud that The Secret Battle is part of it. And we offer big congratulations to Pamela!

https://hnsa.org.au/2022-ara-historical-novel-prize-longlists-announced/

Interview with Victor Kelleher in Buzz Words

There’s a great interview with Victor Kelleher in the latest issue of the digital magazine Buzz Words, and with their kind permission, we are republishing it here. Enjoy! And do consider subscribing to Buzz Words, it’s a great mag, filled with news, views and reviews from the Australian children’s book world!

INTERVIEW

With Victor Kelleher

My life began in a poor part of London where I had, at best, a scanty education. In my mid-teens, I went to Central Africa. At sixteen I was working on the mines in Zambia, on the old Congo border. At twenty I was at university, and there I stayed (at various unis in fact) for most of my twenties. I accumulated five degrees, including a doctorate in English Literature, and finished up as a uni lecturer.

In my mid-thirties my wife and I left Africa – reluctantly – mainly to protect our young son from war and violence. I took up an academic post in New Zealand, then moved to Australia, where I taught for some years at the University of New England. It was in New Zealand that I began to write, motivated at first by home sickness for Africa. In my mid- forties I gave up my associate professorship and devoted myself full time to writing fiction.

That decision left me free to live and travel wherever I pleased, and although my wife and I kept a base here in Oz, we roamed all over the place. (As a former uni teacher, and sculptor/painter, my wife was as free as I was.) I must admit that our kids (we’d adopted a baby girl by then) tagged along and took their chances. As they’ve both gone on to get multiple degrees and make successful careers, I don’t think we did them any great harm!

In my mid-sixties my life changed again. I gave up writing and went back to my very first love, which was the study of philosophy. I concentrated on the philosophy of science. The gypsy life continued, of course, but with the addition of a Kindle full of technical books!

Then, early in my eighties, I was hit by a yearning to write fiction again. My upcoming novel, Wanderer, (Eagle Books) is the very first fruit of this shift. Inevitably, other books must follow, because I suddenly find myself beset by a wealth of things I simply MUST write about. Now, settled (kind of!) in Battery Point in old Hobart, my wife and I work on. We do so very happily.

How many books have you published during your writing career?

Which was the best-selling for you? How many book awards did you pick up?

More than a dozen adult novels, over 20 YA novels, two novellas, a few picture books, and 15 books for littlies. These last really tested me but were great fun. (I’d still like to write a concluding story for my Gibblewort series, for instance.) There are also many books I contributed stories to.

My bestselling book here in Australia is Taronga (Penguin). Other books, like Master of the Grove (Penguin) and Del-Del (Walker Books/Random House) may have outsold it worldwide.

I’m not sure because I don’t keep count.

I’ve picked up lots of awards over the years: Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award, two Australian Children’s Honour Awards, the Australian Science Fiction Achievement Award, the Australian Peace Prize, and so on; plus, plenty of state awards, especially from Western Australia, where they’ve been very kind to me; some children’s choice awards; and then there are all the short listings, including one for the Carnegie Medal. Again, I just don’t keep a record of these things.

Were all your books published by the same company? Did you have a particular editor who was very helpful?

I’ve been published by many companies, but by Penguin/Random most of all. Others include Faber and Faber, Heinemann, Walker Books, University of Queensland Press, Hachette, Allen and Unwin, Harper Collins, Lothian Books, Word Weavers Press, etc. Again, I don’t keep records of these things.

Yes, I do have a favourite editor: Rosie Fitzgibbon at UQP. She was great at her job, and a truly lovely person. She’s dead now, alas, and I miss her still.

It seems a long time since you last had a YA or children’s book published: what was that book? Why has there been such a delay in publication?

I’m not sure about my last publication. It was either a long short story-cum-novella published in Tales from the Tower (Allen and Unwin), or an adult novel, The Other (Harper Collins). As I explained earlier, I took a long break from writing to concentrate on other important aspects of my life.

Your latest book will be published by Christmas Press in 2022: can you tell us about it?

At its simplest, Wanderer involves two young people, Dane, and Lana, who wander the sea world in a kayak. Their quest is to save books from extinction. The world they travel through is my version of how the future might look once our planet starts the slow process of healing itself. It’s a place where the animal kingdom has finally turned against us, following generations of maltreatment; where the worst kinds of human beings persist, despite all that’s happened; where books and the power of story have been horribly devalued; and where goodness and truth remain in peril. There is an upside to all of this though: my two young heroes demonstrate how trust, honesty, and courage are still amongst our greatest treasures; and the novel holds true to the idea that the world itself, in its re-emerging beauty, is still worth fighting for.

How did you get it picked up by Sophie Masson?

My agent offered it to Sophie, and I’m glad to say she took it straight away.

Can you name five children’s books which you would recommend to Buzz Word readers? Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson. (An oldie, but a goodie)

Lord of the Flies, William Golding (Faber and Faber) (A wonderful book for all ages. Timeless.) The Mouse and His Child, Russell Hoban (Allen and Unwin) (An amazing book. Nothing else quite like it.) Red Shift, Alan Garner (Collins) (In my view, the best book yet on the mysterious disappearance of the ninth Roman Legion. Oh, and see if you can crack the code on the flyleaf.) The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery (Gallimard was the original French publisher. Don’t know who published the translation.) (I had to include this, because it was the first book I read in French, and it taught me more about the language than any other.)

You’ll have noticed that these are all fairly old titles. I’ve allowed them to squeeze out recent titles because these are some of the texts that inspired me when I started and was struggling to write well.

Can you tell us some interesting things about yourself?

Here are two things, one sad, one not so: When I was young, I dreamed of becoming a great long- distance runner. I duly trained and trained, but it didn’t happen. So, I upped my distances until I was running well over 100 kms a week. I thought that would make me super fit and strong, the way it has many other runners. Wrong! I just became super tired. The truth? I didn’t have the inbuilt strength and stamina and sheer talent for a great distance runner. A real sadness for me at the time.

On a happier note, (!), I enjoy playing blues harmonica. I even took lessons in it years ago, and there was a time when I practised hard. These days, one of my favourite things is to open YouTube and accompany some of the great blues musicians. It just goes to show that you don’t have to be famous to play with the best!

How can readers learn more about you?

Google me, I suppose. The horrid truth is, I’m quite a private person.

Publication day for Wanderer!

Today is the publication date for Wanderer, the brilliant new novel by one of Australia’s greatest storytellers, multi-award-winning author Victor Kelleher. It is his first new middle-grade novel in over fifteen years, and we are so proud to be publishing it!

Wanderer is not only an exciting, immersive adventure, with unforgettable characters, set in a brilliantly-imagined alternative world: it is also a lyrical love song to the power of books and stories. You can read more about the story here, and watch a great trailer for it here, but here below too are some words from Victor to readers, about the book and its themes.

I wrote Wanderer while living in the Channel Country of southern Tasmania. It grew out of the waterways and landscape I looked onto every day, and more or less demanded to be written. So like all my fantasies, it is grounded in a real place. Only the time has shifted, from the present to a not-too-distant future, when the world is learning to heal itself again.

 The notion of healing runs right through the book, from the main character, Dane, who has been mentally wounded by the manner of his mother’s death and his own feelings of guilt; right through to the animal kingdom, which has turned against humanity after millennia of ill-treatment and neglect. Then, too, there are the abandoned children who, for me, symbolise the plight of poor kids everywhere.

 The stories told by Lana, and the books she and Dane are trying to rescue, can also be seen as a part of this healing process – though they clearly symbolise much more. Again, for me, the image of the lost kids sitting around the campfire listening to Lana tell her tale is central to so much of what I was trying to convey. Stories can heal us, as First Nations people throughout the world have known for many, many centuries.

 In this respect, let me confess something here. I hadn’t written a novel for some years and telling Lana and Dane’s story helped restore my writerly self. It reminded me of a part of myself that had been missing. Does that make sense? I hope so, because it’s the simplest truth I took away from this act of authorship.

 But that’s enough about healing. Readers can further explore that theme for themselves.

 Just a final word about one of the many other issues raised by the novel, and that’s the thorny problem of violence. In and of itself, violence is a nasty thing. On the other hand, it’s something we’re all capable of. Why does, say, Lana show restraint at critical moments, while her father, Karl, gives free rein to his basest passions? What constrains her?  Or Dane come to that? Or to look at it in another light, why do the people of Skull veer one way, and the people of Elysia another?

 Much greater writers than myself have tackled this problem, and it even arises in many fairy tales. So it would have been foolish of me to pretend that Wanderer supplies all the answers. It doesn’t. But at the heart of my young characters’ quest, there are, I hope, some clues as to how and why we become who we are.

Happy reading!

Wanderer

By Victor Kelleher

ISBN 9780645378818

Cover and internal illustrations by Lorena Carrington

Published August 2022 by Eagle Books, an imprint of Christmas Press

RRP $19.99

Available in all good bookshops.

Cover reveal for Wanderer!

We are absolutely delighted to reveal the beautiful cover of Victor Kelleher’s magnificent middle-grade novel, Wanderer, which we are publishing in August. The cover was created by the brilliant photographic illustrator, Lorena Carrington: isn’t it just superb!

Wanderer is the first new middle-grade novel in over fifteen years by multi-award-winning author Victor Kelleher, one of Australia’s greatest storytellers. An exciting adventure set in a brilliantly-imagined world, it is also a lyrical love song to the power of books, and stories. We are so proud to be able to bring this wonderful book to the world!

You can read more about Wanderer here.