By Emma Saunders
The last 12 months have been a whirlwind for children’s author,
Jonathan Stroud. The 33-year-old’s fourth novel, The Amulet
of Samarkand, became the subject of a bidding war between four top
publishing houses last year. It resulted in a seven-figure deal
with Random House and a contract with film company Miramax.
only written 92 pages when the book was snapped up. The Amulet of
Samarkand is one of a trilogy about a demon - or djinni - called
Bartimaeus, who has been summoned by a twelve-year-old apprentice
wizard, Nathaniel. Stroud knew the idea was special when it came
to him but was taken aback by the frenzied interest.
“The idea came to me when I was out walking on a really dismal
day last October and I pretty much had it mapped out from there,”
he says. The book will inevitably draw comparisons with J.K. Rowling.
Stroud was touted around as the new Rowling when the book deal was
How does he
feel about the comparison? “I am honoured but also amused
because it gets passed so rapidly from one person to the next,”
he says. “I enjoyed the Harry Potter books and children’s
fantasy is doing brilliantly at the moment. “I wanted to put
a different spin on the fantasy thing and try something new - with
the genie, rather than thy boy wizard, being the central character.”
Bartimaeus is a witty and likeable character, who does not slot
easily into the good or evil category.
cynicism and dry sense of humour should ensure the novel appeals
to adults as much as children. “The book is really for anyone,
probably twelve plus. Adults will be able to get the book on different
levels, like the humour and the references to history and myth,”
says Stroud. The author, who gave up his editing job at a publishing
company to write full-time, has a busy time ahead.
success so far, Stroud has a bigger long-term ambition. “As
long as the books are still in print in 10 or 20 years time, that’s
what I’d like. There is a fantasy surge at the moment, so
we’ll see. “But the best books survive fashion.”