Debut children's author achieves record publishing deal for series about bloodthirsty unicorns

Debut children's author achieves record publishing deal for series about bloodthirsty unicorns

A 28-year-old author has been paid a “major" seven-figure publishing deal for her series about bloodthirsty unicorns. Annabel Steadman, who writes as AF Steadman, was the subject of a multi-publisher auction for three books in her fantasy adventure series, Skandar and the Unicorn Thief. She is believed to have been paid the world’s largest-ever advance for a debut children’s book writer. The rights to the series have also been bought by Sony Pictures. Steadman’s series is set in a world where unicorns are deadly, and can only be tamed by the rider who hatches them. Her story follows Skander Smith, who is training to become a unicorn rider when the world’s most powerful unicorn is stolen. The series opens with Steadman explaining: “Unicorns don’t belong in fairytales; they belong in nightmares.” Publishing director Ali Douglas of Simon & Schuster, who won the bidding war, said the “instant, seething excitement” surrounding the series was “unlike anything I’ve experienced before”. Steadman told The Guardian that she collapsed on her bed upon hearing of the publishing deal. “It kind of completely went mad after that. I was like, this isn’t real, this can’t be real,” she said. Steadman wrote down the original idea for The Unicorn Thief in 2013, but set it aside to focus on training as a lawyer. After leaving her law career in 2017, Steadman studied a master’s in creative writing at Cambridge University, and returned to her story. “At the moment I’m not even sure ...
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