*** STOP PRESS: APRIL FOOL!!! ***
Well it's not very often we get to do something as exciting as this - especially as we're all so terrible at keeping secrets! Determined to keep up with the ever-growing trends in publishing Tor UK is launching a new imprint aimed directly at the age range encompassed by New Children. As we know New Adult covers the age range of 18 to 25 and we were concerned that there was a section of the children's market that was missing out, the age range that fell between children's and YA.
Our new imprint Tiny Tor will cover the spectrum of ages between 7 and a half and 13 and three quarters. As we know how enthusiastic this marketplace is for genre, we wanted to do something genre specific that would attract this particular readership.
So we're hugely excited to announce Tiny Tor, the imprint which will publish only novels featuring imaginative creatures in a genre setting. We have two launch titles for the list to date written by two of Tor's most respected authors, with more to be announced shortly. We're incredibly excited about this new opportunity and feel we'll be contributing fresh, exciting and very commercial novels to a readership always eager for the next big thing.
Both launch titles will be published simultaneously and it's appropriate, considering the depth and variety of Tor UK's adult speculative fiction list, that one should be fantasy written by Legends of the Red Sun author Mark Charan Newton and the other science fiction written by the bestselling author Neal Asher. We've interviewed both authors about their foray into children's writing and are also revealing for the first time ever, the covers and blurb of their exciting new books.
Best known for his explosive and exciting space operas Neal Asher is the author of fifteen books, many set in the Polity Universe. We caught up with him to discuss his departure from The Departure.
Your normal novels are aliens, all guns blazing and huge adventurous space opera, so when Tor suggested you write SF for children, what did you think?
I was initially surprised by the idea because my general attitude to children is that though I like them, I couldn’t eat a whole one. But on reflection I could see how this would be a good idea. The problem with science fiction is its inability to acquire new adult readers because it is a language in itself, and one must grow up with it to fully comprehend it. Here then was a way I could add to the sum total of SF readers. Also, because I am always looking for ways to learn more about my craft I felt this would be a good exercise in restraint for me, a way to examine my writing from a different perspective, to try out some new literary tools and, generally, just learn how to do something different. From that point onwards the challenge took root in my mind and, when I thought to myself ‘Beatrix Potter with lasers’ it blossomed.
Did you find it difficult to write for children? What did you enjoy about it?
I did find it very difficult at first because my perception of how children think and what was allowable wasn’t quite right. How far could I take the sheer visceral violence of the duel between Fluff and the Shadow Rabbit? What expletives were allowable . . . could Fluff say ‘Bugger’? Could the idea of the Shadow Rabbit be seen in a racist light? How traumatic would the death by laser of some of my characters be for a child? Then, remembering my excerpts from a future child’s book in The Line of Polity I began thinking about fairy tales, and researching them. The reality, I soon learned, is that the violence (and supposedly adult themes) that can be found in them sometimes exceeds what can be found in my Polity books. How often in adult books would you come across the idea of a couple of children roasting an old woman alive in her own oven?
Would you consider writing any other novels with magical creatures in them?
Well, I have to state right out that the Bunnies are not magical creatures. They are genetically enhanced creatures ‘uplifted’ mentally in way similar to those in the books of David Brin. But yes, I would consider writing other novels with magical creatures in them. In fact I have, and I must get round to updating them, though whether they’ll be suitable for Tor’s new imprint I don’t know.
If the Prador met the Space Bunnies, who do you think would win?
Interesting question. The prador are vicious amoral killers with a great deal of military technology to back them up. However, the Bunnies also have technological advantages and under the leadership of Fluff, who I would describe as a super-advanced Br’er Rabbit, might well have the upper paw. Br’er Rabbit has traditionally always out-foxed the fox.
If you could be a magical creature, what would it be and why?
I’d like to be an elf. They live forever, which is great, and since taking up dancing to the Wii I’ve found an attraction in myself to wearing green Lycra.
Deep in the metallic warrens of Cuniculus, the young rabbit Fluff watches as his entire world is brought under the heel of the tyrannical weasel clan. Destroying everything he’s ever known or loved, they’ve left him nothing . . . nothing but the will to kill each and every one of them.
Enlisting the aid of the wise old Mole Moda, Fluff must learn to use the technology given to his ancestors by the Hooded Men and become something darker, something terrifying – the Shadow Rabbit. For only the Shadow Rabbit can wield the ‘ever force’, a power so terrifying that no creature has ever dared use it. But can Fluff make the ultimate sacrifice and in, doing so, unleash a creature so terrible that it could threaten the entire universe?
Next up Legend author Mark Charan Newton explains how he came up with the concept for his children's tale . . .
Tell us a little bit about your new book.
Without sounding too pompous about it, A Unicorn’s Purpose is a Euripidean critique of society as viewed through the eyes of a unicorn. In fact, though the story is about a unicorn and the various tragedies that it experiences, it also really isn’t about the unicorn at all. I want people to look beyond that. You see, the unicorn is a metaphor - not just for unrequited love, which is obvious, but of the current economic crisis and its lack of Keynesian response. That the unicorn is called Dave and keeps stealing other people’s pocket money is no coincidence.
This is a slight departure from your adult books – what made you want to write for children?
I’m doing it for the money.
Where did you get the idea for A Unicorn’s Purpose?
It was actually China Miéville who came up with the central plot - but he gave it to me in exchange for a copy of Atlas Shrugged and a Babycham.
What did you think when Tor UK first approached you to write for this new imprint?
Please. I approached them with the manuscript of A Unicorn’s Purpose and they wanted to give it its own imprint. In fact, I was promised that that each of my new novels gets its own imprint from now on.
Do you have other ideas for Magical Creature adventures?
I’ve a very rough idea based on a Pegasus who likes sailing and home decor, but it’s really just a work in progress right now and I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving too much away.
The College of Research into Animal Protagonists has become more and more controversial in its experimentation to find the perfect hybrids to send into the brutal blood games to entertain the rich and indolent citizens of Mundania. In the arena, trained warriors face manticores, chimeras and griffins. Only the fiercest of these will survive and win their freedom. Dave is the perfect warrior, a Unicorn taken from the city streets and trained to be the ultimate killer - a four-hooved, one-horned emissary of death. But deep in his heart he knows there must be more to life than this endless slaughter - he wants freedom, love, and - for some reason - things that sparkle and glitter.
One night, he takes his chances and, with the aid of his elderly mentor Henry the Hippocamp, he escapes the arena and finds his way to the Home of Lost Magical Creatures. A place of sanctuary for the dispossessed, the mutated and inexplicable, he begins to realize that he's more than what he was created to be. Putting his bloodthirsty past behind him, he has hope for the future. When Fluffy, a magical pony of extraordinary beauty enters his life, he knows he's found true purpose at last. But when Fluffy is taken by the College for their breeding program, Dave knows that he'll need all his former skills to destroy his previous masters and win back the pony of his dreams . . .
We hope you're just as excited as we are by this new imprint and look forward to seeing what you think of the covers and blurbs!
If you have any questions then please do leave a comment and we'll endeavour to get back to you.