Firefly acquires debut middle-grade by Daniel Peak

Firefly acquires debut middle-grade by Daniel Peak

Penny Thomas has acquired world rights in LITTLE HORROR by award-winning TV writer Daniel Peak, from Abi Sparrow at SP Agency.

Rita may be a baby, but she has the mind (and attitude) of a teenager. She may be new to walking but she’s as wise-crackingly clever as anyone in Key Stage 3. She knows she is not a normal toddler but when her parents disappear and a sinister clown and an ice-cream van seem to be hunting her down, even a soft-play centre might not be safe… 

It will take all Rita’s cunning and resourcefulness, as well as a cat flap, a mobility scooter and a reluctant teenage sidekick, to defeat an evil conspiracy and a crazy genius villain. Imagine The Fugitive – if Harrison Ford was two feet tall and wearing Pampers. 

‘A page-turning, hilarious debut with a brilliantly bonkers, feisty heroine, Little Horrorhad me biting my nails, while laughing out loud!’

Rebecca Lloyd, Editor

A lead writer for CBBC’s Horrible Histories, and co-writer of Lee Mack’s Not Going OutLITTLE HORROR is Daniel’s debut children’s novel. He said, ‘I’m very honoured and excited to be joining the Firefly list alongside such brilliant writers. I can’t wait to send Rita on the run into the real world.’

Little Horror will publish in paperback on 30 September 2021. Cover artwork by Seb Burnett.

Firefly spreads its wings with new staff members

Firefly spreads its wings with new staff members

This spring, we’re growing our small team with three new appointments…

Children’s book illustrator Becka Moor joined us as a designer this month. And bookseller Amy Low and YA vlogger Karen Bultiauw join our award-winning team in April to work on sales and marketing.

Becka, who has worked on a variety of young fiction, non-fiction and picture books, has illustrated for authors such as Gwyneth Rees and Pamela Buchart, as well as new editions of The Famous Five series. She joins Firefly to work on the design and branding of its quality fiction list, and is also illustrating Firefly’s forthcoming middle-grade detective novel Libby and the Parisian Puzzle by Jo Clarke.

Amy Low joins Firefly from award-winning independent bookshop Book-ish in Crickhowell, where she co-founded the Crickhowell Children’s Book Festival in 2019, and has also been studying for an MA in Children’s Publishing at Bath Spa University. And Karen Bultiauw is a book vlogger and freelance publicist who has also worked in retail and for Welsh indie Accent Press.

We’re extremely proud to welcome all three new staff members to the team. We love Becka’s illustration and design and are so excited that she is joining us in this new role. Karen and Amy will bring terrific experience and passion for children’s book publishing to the sales and marketing team, alongside our Publicity Manager Megan Farr. At the same time we are very sad to be saying goodbye to our wonderful Sales and Marketing Officer Simone Greenwood, who has done so much to grow the company over the last two years and win two NIBBIES awards in a row!’ 

Penny Thomas, Publisher
Firefly signs haunting collection from Catherine Fisher

Firefly signs haunting collection from Catherine Fisher

Penny Thomas has acquired world rights in The Red Gloves and Other Stories  by Catherine Fisher from Lesley Pollinger at Paper Lion.

The Red Gloves and Other Stories contains nine haunting tales of enchantment, ghosts and danger. All are original stories, some are contemporary, some inspired by ancient myths, including the Mabinogion, Arthurian Legend, Old English tales and the story of Taliesin.

We are so delighted to be publishing The Red Gloves this autumn. Catherine is an expert storyteller and in this collection she casts nine chilling spells, with wit, heart and magic.’

Janet Thomas, Editor

‘It’s a great honour that these stories are being published by Firefly in such a delicious new edition!’

Catherine Fisher

The Red Gloves and Other Stories will publish as a hardback gift edition in September 2021. 

The acquisition follows the success of Catherine Fisher’s The Clockwork Crow trilogy for Firefly which was shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards and won the Tir na n’Og Children’s Book Award, and has sold into territories around the world including the US, China and Russia.

‘Full of deep fairytale resonance, Fisher’s writing stands out in the mind’s eye like blood drops on snow,’ Imogen Russell Williams, The Guardian

Rebel with a Cupcake: Anna’s baking triumphs and disasters

Rebel with a Cupcake: Anna’s baking triumphs and disasters

Rebel with a Cupcake author Anna Mainwaring shares her baking triumphs and disasters

The lure of baking is always the same. It seems like a miraculous process, the closest any of us will come to real magic. You take a few simple ingredients – eggs, flours, butter with bit of flavouring and colour – and a few hours later, a thing of sheer beauty will emerge from your oven, an alchemical masterpiece, blending delicious flavour with immaculate appearance.

At least that’s the dream. And it might be true for the protagonist, Jess, from my novel, Rebel with a Cupcake’who deals with her feelings about being bullied by a teacher by re-creating her school in gingerbread and then eating it. I had in mind that she created something like this, a wonder of baking, engineering and creativity.

But as we all know, and children often have to learn when the first independent baking experiment goes wrong, baking is much more like this. 

We aim for a unicorn of elegance and beauty and end up with a monstrous, many hued mess, an insult to any self-respecting mythological beast.

I am generally considered a good cook. But while I love cakes, unlike Jess, they can be my nemesis. A few months before Rebel with a Cupcake was published in April 2020, (when one could go to a café with friends)  I met some fellow writers for a chat in Manchester Library. In the café, Vimto cupcakes were on offer. As an adopted Mancunian, I love a bit of Vimto and was duly tempted. They looked gorgeous, they tasted spectacular.

So, when I was asked to bake some cupcakes to celebrate the launch of Rebel with a Cupcake, I decided to recreate them. They were tasty, northern and a bit different – they were in fact the character of Jess in cake form. Challenge accepted.

Now the cake part was easy – now onto the icing. I wanted some Vimto cordial to get the full fruity taste but I couldn’t find any – a global pandemic was happening after all. Never to be put off when I’ve got an idea, I decided to buy normal Vimto and reduce it to a sticky, cordial like substance by heating it over the hob. Easy peasy – what could go wrong?

It was all going swimmingly. ‘I’ll let it reduce for a bit longer,’ said I, ‘I won’t get distracted by Twitter, forget about the time and make a stinking, smokey mess of it.’.

But of course I did. Children came running from bedrooms, complaining of the smell of burned fruit. “It smells like death,” one cried. The smoke alarms went off in every room. My next-door neighbour who is an ex-firefighter was looking over the fence in alarm when I ran out with the offending saucepan.

I did not ‘nail it’. I messed it up. From then on, cupcakes have been bought not made … If nothing else, it saves on the washing up.

Royal Mail honour Children’s Laureate Wales, Eloise Williams

Royal Mail honour Children’s Laureate Wales, Eloise Williams

Eloise Williams with her Gaslight postbox. Photo credit: SWNS for Royal Mail

To mark World Book Day 2021 (Thursday 4 March), Royal Mail has unveiled five special postboxes across the UK, honouring authors and illustrators who have been doing amazing things to help children during lockdown – one of which is Children’s Laureate Wales, and Firefly author, Eloise Williams.

Eloise’s postbox is situated in Cardiff, the setting of her middle-grade Victorian novel Gaslight, and where she spent a lot of her childhood. Painted with the gold stars and deep blue of the much-loved novel, the newly decorated post box has appeared on The Hayes in the heart of the Welsh capital and will remain for one month.

Eloise has been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic, encouraging children with her writing challenges, videos, and resources for schools across Wales and the UK. We couldn’t be prouder of what she has achieved, and are delighted to see her honoured in this way. 

‘It is without a shadow of a doubt that the UK is home to some of the world’s best children’s authors, and it is heart-warming to see how so many have been focused on keeping the magic of literature alive for children during lockdown. As one of the guardians of the written word, Royal Mail relishes the opportunity to celebrate some of Britain’s most treasured writers during these unprecedented times, so it seems only fitting that their amazing work is honoured on some of our iconic postboxes.

Mark Street, Head of Campaigns at Royal Mail

Eloise said, ‘I am absolutely delighted to have this very special postbox unveiled in Cardiff on World Book Day. The author community in Wales has really risen to the challenge of supporting young people during the past year and I am proud to have played a small part in that. To see how children have engaged with the Children’s Laureate Wales’ writing activities has been wonderful.

Creativity has never been so important. It has a proven positive impact on well-being and mental health and gives young people a voice and a way to express themselves. I hope the Children’s Laureate Wales’ activities have enabled young people to be playful, creative and imaginative.’

Eloise is also launching a new Children’s Laureate Wales initiative today, with Literature Wales, called Letters of Kindness. Find out more here.