Fantastic news for Wanderer!

We are absolutely thrilled to announce the very exciting news that Victor Kelleher’s extraordinary novel, Wanderer, which we published last year in our Eagle Books imprint, has just been shortlisted for the very prestigious Patricia Wrightson Prize, which is the children’s category in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards! This is absolutely wonderful news, and a very well-deserved major recognition of Victor’s magnificent book. Here’s what the judges said about the novel:

With danger at every turn and constant action that grinds to a dramatic climax, Wanderer by Victor Kelleher grips the reader from the start, never letting up on the drama, tension, and conflict. This novel stood out for its strong narrative voice and for its child protagonists who remain in control of their own destinies throughout. Theirs is a high-stakes, life-and-death struggle against the decaying, lawless world around them as they must battle and attempt to outwit adults, wild animals, and nature itself.  

This middle-grade novel is set in a dystopian future where ocean levels have risen and society has crumbled. Young Dane and his new friend, Lana, must complete a perilous quest that focuses on special treasures: precious, rare books. And, yet, Wanderer is also much more than this. It’s a tale of friendship, courage, endurance, and a warning of what the future may hold for humanity.

Huge congratulations to Victor! We are so proud to have been able to publish Wanderer, and so delighted that the book has been honoured in this wonderful way.

Winners of the Awards will be announced at the State Library of NSW, Sydney, on May 22. It will also be the opening event for the Sydney Writers’ Festival. #NSWPLA

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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

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!

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.

Publication day for Children of the Wild!

We are delighted to announce that today is the official publication day of Michael Grey’s stunning debut YA novel, Children of the Wild! It’s an amazing speculative fiction story, set in an unusual dystopian world, with a cast of memorably vivid characters, full-on adventure, edge-of-your-seat suspense, and fantastic world-building. We are very proud to be publishing it, and warmly congratulate Michael on the book’s release! We also congratulate the wonderful Lorena Carrington, who created the striking cover illustration and internal chapter decoration.

You can read more about Children of the Wild here.

Cover reveal for Children of the Wild!

We are delighted to reveal the gorgeous cover of debut novelist Michael Grey’s fantastic YA novel, Children of the Wild, which we are publishing in March 2022. The beautiful cover illustration is by the wonderful photographic artist Lorena Carrington, and design is by Authors’ Elves. Lorena has also created an elegant motif to use as chapter headings throughout the book.

We’re excited to be publishing Michael’s book, the first YA novel we’ve taken on. Powerful, action-packed and thoughtful, it is an absolutely gripping read. Read more about it, and Michael, here.

Publication day for Charlie Chaplin!

We are delighted to announce that today is the official publication day for Charlie Chaplin: The Usual Suspect! Written and illustrated by the dynamic mother-daughter duo who create books under the joint pen-name of Phoebe McArthur, it’s an exciting middle-grade mystery set in a picturesque Australian country town, and features a bright, spirited heroine in the Nancy Drew/Trixie Belden mould, but with a very contemporary twist. And it’s enhanced by fantastic, atmospheric black and white illustrations.

Congratulations to the talented Phoebe McArthur duo–we are delighted to be publishing this fabulous book! And we hope lots of readers will love it as much as we do.

Phoebe McArthur on writing Charlie Chaplin: The Usual Suspect

Next Monday will see the official release of the new Eagle Books title, Charlie Chaplin: The Usual Suspect, a gripping contemporary mystery set in the picturesque country town of Gulgong in central west NSW. And today, as we wait for the big day, author Phoebe McArthur tells us something about how the book came to be, the influences on the story, and the research that had to be done…Enjoy!

Writing Charlie Chaplin: The Usual Suspect

So, Phoebe McArthur is the nom-de-plume for a mother-daughter writing team. Generally one of us writes the initial draft of the story and then sends it to the other one for editing/adding/rewriting.  In the case of Charlie Chaplin: The Usual Suspect, the daughter (me) of the  team, wrote  the  story  and  the mother (hereafter known as ‘Mum’) was the one doing the edits and additions. Whenever we’ve got a completed manuscript we can’t tell who wrote what!

I can’t remember if I started with Nancy Drew or The Famous Five, but I’ve always loved mystery stories. Recently, I came across one that I’d started writing when I was about 8. It’s very embarrassing and the punctuation is atrocious.

A little while ago, I was given inside information that a publisher was after a ‘Trixie Belden’ style middle-grade novel. Yay! This was right up my alley! Originally, with Charlie (whose name was Meg for the first few drafts) was moving into a tiny house with her mother. It changed to an old post office when I realised that so many of Australia’s original post offices were now something else.

After a meeting with the publisher (who was encouragingly excited) I headed off to Gulgong to check out the Pioneers’ Museum (her suggestion). And yes, it was perfect! I took a lot of photos, which ended up being perfect for Mum to use as the basis for her illustrations, ate a LOT of food and didn’t write a single word. However, plot was bubbling away in my mind.

I grew up in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. It is rumoured that there are tunnels under the main street between one of the pubs, the big hotel and the bank. Apparently these were for visiting royalty to be able to move around and not be bombarded by the masses. While in Gulgong, I almost fell down a hole in the main street. It turns out that it is used to deliver barrels of beer to the pub. How boring! So, for the story that hole became an entry point to a labyrinth of secret tunnels that run under the town of Gulgong. To the best of my knowledge this is something I’ve made up, but I’d love it to be true! Almost all the Famous Five stories have secret passages and tunnels, so I simply had to add them into Charlie Chaplin.

I also have a memory of Mum telling me that we’re secretly descendants of Queen Victoria. Something about one of her sons and a maid and someone being sent out to Australia to avoid a scandal. How true that (or my memory) is, I have no idea, but it made its way into the book, nonetheless.

One thing I was determined not to have in the book was romance. One thing that I love about Enid Blyton mysteries is the lack of mushy stuff that gets in the way of solving the mystery. I get very annoyed when the main characters get distracted by their feelings and end up in a lot more trouble because of it. I put up with it in the Nancy Drew books, because (most of the time!) the romantic aspects didn’t encroach on the overall storyline, whereas in the Trixie Belden books I found it to be forced. Thankfully Mum fully agreed with that decision and we now have a book that we are very proud of!

We are working on our next few projects together — concurrently, of course! Life isn’t as fun if it’s not as full and busy as humanly possible!