Announcing the acquisition of Victor Kelleher’s brilliant new middle-grade novel

Christmas Press is excited to announce that we have acquired world rights in Wanderer, a brilliant new novel for upper middle-grade readers by eminent, multi-award-winning author Victor Kelleher. The novel will be published in August 2022 under the Eagle Books imprint and was acquired via Margaret Connolly of Margaret Connolly and Associates.

Wanderer is Kelleher’s first middle-grade novel for over fifteen years, as the author has been concentrating on short fiction for younger readers in the interim. And it is a triumphant return to the powerful speculative fiction for older readers that saw him win many awards and gain legions of readers for novels such as Taronga, The Red King, The Green Piper, and Brother Night.

From the very beginning of Wanderer, the reader is plunged into the cold waters of an unusual post-catastrophe world where a secretly salvaged book is a source of comfort for a young boatman and where ravaging warriors hunt down any hint of the old knowledge. With its heady mix of lyrical description, gripping action scenes and philosophical reflection, this is a novel that makes you hold your breath, a novel which is not only an immediately engaging story but also a love song to books themselves.

Victor Kelleher explains the genesis of the novel: ‘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.’

Wanderer is a tour de force, a masterpiece by a writer at the peak of his powers,’ said Christmas Press publishing director Sophie Masson. ‘We are really honoured that Victor has chosen to entrust his beautiful novel to us and excited to be publishing the first Victor Kelleher novel for older readers in over fifteen years. So many people, including us, grew up with and were inspired by his extraordinary speculative fiction from previous years and we are thrilled to be bringing his wonderful new work to a whole new generation of young readers. ‘

Victor Kelleher

Announcing the acquisition of Julian Leatherdale’s amazing fantasy novel!

We are delighted to announce that we have acquired novelist, scriptwriter and playwright Julian Leatherdale’s first novel for children, The Phantasmic Detective Agency, via the Selwa Anthony Author Management Agency.

The Phantasmic Detective Agency is an original, inventive and gripping fantasy adventure novel for readers aged 10+, set against the backdrop of pre-Great War Europe, when the modern world is being born: gas lamps giving way to electric lighting, horse-drawn carriages to motor cars, spiritualism and superstition to technology and science. But there is always room for magic…

The Phantasmic Detective Agency will be published by Eagle Books in March 2020.

About the book:

London, Christmas Eve, 1911.The world is changing fast: giant warships, aeroplanes with bombs, spies and assassins, fear of war with Germany. The cosy lives of Lily and Leopold Keeler and their famous stage magician father Edmund Keeler are about to be torn apart by secrets, espionage and monstrous creatures from the shadows.

Trapped in their stuffy Edwardian childhoods, the Keeler siblings pine for adventure. Lily (14) dreams of being Britain’s first woman detective while Leopold, known as ‘Leo’, (15) would love to be a pilot, the newest kind of hero. They both envy their eccentric uncle Alfred, a brilliant and notorious Sherlock Holmes-like paranormal detective who uses his deductive powers and esoteric equipment to solve mysteries from the world of spirits and mythical beasts.

When their uncle’s performance of a Christmas Eve shadow-puppet play of Little Red Riding Hood unexpectedly releases the hungry spectre of the Shadow Wolf, Lily and Leo will get more adventure than they ever bargained for.

But Shadow Wolf proves to be only the first mystery in a conspiracy that threatens to destroy the Keeler family, as Lily and Leo witness their parents, Edmund and Alice, vanish for real in the middle of their latest spectacular magic act. So they turn to their eccentric uncle to keep them safe and solve the mystery of their parents’ disappearance.

From the Royal Naval dockyards of Plymouth to the bone-stacked catacombs of Paris, Uncle Alfred and his two apprentice detectives, Lily and Leo, confront eerie creatures and blood-chilling danger as they are chased by a ruthless spy-ring determined to harness the dark forces of Magick as weapons of war. As Lily struggles with her refusal to believe in shadow-wolves and ghosts and her brother Leo takes terrible risks to impress their eccentric uncle, the Keeler children find moments of great courage and inspired cleverness, as they try to solve the mysteries in Uncle Alfred’s casebook with plenty of clues and spine-tingling intrigue along the way.

About the author:

Julian Leatherdale is a novelist, scriptwriter and playwright. His theatre work includes four comedy cabarets, two musicals (Alex in Videoland and The Golem of Prague), a monologue for Breaking Bread and the black comedy The Man Who Became Santa. He wrote animation scripts for children’s TV with SquareZero, London and researched and co-wrote two Film Australia-ABC TV history documentaries The Forgotten Force and Return to Sandakan. His adult historical fiction novels are Palace of Tears (A&U, 2015 and HarperCollins Germany, 2016) and The Opal Dragonfly (A&U, 2018), with The City of Shadows (A&U) forthcoming in 2020. He lives in the Blue Mountains with his family.

The Phantasmic Detective Agency is his first children’s novel.