Interview by Paul Salfen

A seven-figure global deal, a major motion picture in the works, 34 languages sold and counting—breakout author A.F. Steadman debuts her middle grade fantasy series with a bang

 Soar into a breathtaking world of heroes and unicorns in this fantastical debut series perfect for fans of the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter series! SKANDAR AND THE UNICORN THIEF by debut author A.F. Steadman has taken the publishing world by storm when it was acquired as part of a seven-figure deal by Simon & Schuster US and UK (with movie rights pre-empted by Sony Pictures) — reported by The Guardian as the largest known deal for a children’s debut in the UK.

Featuring thrilling sky battles, SKANDAR AND THE UNICORN THIEF is the first book in a fast-paced adventure series that skewers pop notions of unicorns and subverts the “unicorns are pink and cuddly” trope. The creatures in this series are powerful and exploding with uncontrolled magic. YA readers looking for a world to lose themselves in need look no further than the detailed, lavishly crafted universe of SKANDAR.

But the magic surrounding this series truly lies in 29-year-old debut author A.F. Steadman, who studied Spanish, Russian and law at The University of Cambridge and became a lawyer. She eventually gave up her law career to pursue writing fulltime and was inspired to write SKANDAR AND THE UNICORN THIEF while walking through Oxford years ago, during which she envisioned a clear image of a boy riding a unicorn through the sky. 

Steadman calls this a book about ferocious unicorns, but it’s also about friends who accept you for who you really are, and about the fierce bond that can exist between humans and animals. It’s a book about loving people—even when loving them can be hard. And about doing the right thing—even when it scares you. The message of Skandar and the Unicorn Thief is a simple one, together we are always stronger.

ABOUT: A.F. Steadman grew up in the Kent countryside, getting lost in fantasy worlds and scribbling stories in notebooks. Before focusing on writing, she worked in law, until she realized that there wasn’t nearly enough magic involved. Skandar and the Unicorn Thief is her debut novel. Follow A.F. (Annabel) on Instagram and Facebook @afsteadmanauthor and twitter @annabelwriter.

Follow Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing @simonkids


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