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Big deals for new children's authors

5 September 2005

A couple of big deals for newcomers writing for children show that a lot of the action in the publishing world continues to be in the children's area.

Worldwide publishing deals have been achieved for an author who is still only sixteen. Catherine Banner was lucky enough to encounter the then-children's Laureate Michael Morpurgo, who was impressed by her work. She met agent Simon Trewin at the Cambridge Wordfest and he rapidly took on her novel, The Eyes of a King, which is the first of a trilogy and centres on three 15-year-old characters. Banner is not only still at school but has not yet entered the sixth form.

The other sensation is a first children's book from Frances Hardinge, a graphic designer who was made redundant and decided to travel the world. Her children's book, Fly by Night, which is another fantasy novel about a trio, is in other ways quite different from The Eyes of a King, although both exhibit the originality which publishers say they are looking for.

Frances Hardinge says: 'When I started Fly by Night I wanted to write a book that I'd enjoy writing and which I though people would enjoy reading. I have a huge enthusiasm for words and the eccentricity of them, and that became a strong theme in the book.' Hardinge, currently in Thailand, will take up her life as a full-time author when she returns to the UK for publication this autumn.