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“What can I tell you about it? The first thing to say is that Lyra is at the centre of the story.” – Philip Pullman


Philip Pullman, Author. Photographed by Michael Leckie in Oxford 11th January 2017

Philip Pullman. Photographed by Michael Leckie.

The first volume of Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust – which has been speculated about for years – will be published on Thursday 19 October 2017.

The Book of Dust is a work in three parts, like His Dark Materials. The first part will be published jointly by Penguin Random House Children’s and David Fickling Books in the UK and by Random House Children’s in the US. 22 years after Northern Lights (July 1995) – the first of his world-famous His Dark Materials trilogy, which has sold more than 17.5m copies in over 40 languages – The Book of Dust will return to the parallel world that has enthralled readers young and old.

The plot and title of this first story will remain under wraps until a later date, but it can be revealed that the book is set 10 years before Northern Lights and centres on the much-loved character, Lyra Belacqua. Alethiometers, daemons and the Magisterium return to play their part, but the book also introduces a host of new characters, including a new hero.

Philip Pullman comments: “I know from their letters and tweets that my readers have been waiting patiently (mostly) for The Book of Dust for a long time. It gives me great pleasure and some excitement at last to satisfy their curiosity (and mine) about this book.

“The first thing to say is that Lyra is at the centre of the story. Events involving her open the first chapter, and will close the last. I’ve always wanted to tell the story of how Lyra came to be living at Jordan College and, in thinking about it, I discovered a long story that began when she was a baby and will end when she’s grown up. This volume and the next will cover two parts of Lyra’s life: starting at the beginning of her story and returning to her 20 years later.

“So, second: is it a prequel? Is it a sequel? It’s neither. In fact, The Book of Dust is… an ‘equel’. It doesn’t stand before or after His Dark Materials, but beside it. It’s a different story, but there are settings that readers of His Dark Materials will recognise, and characters they’ve met before. Also, of course, there are some characters who are new to us, including an ordinary boy (a boy we have seen in an earlier part of Lyra’s story, if we were paying attention) who, with Lyra, is caught up in a terrifying adventure that takes him into a new world.

“Third: why return to Lyra’s world? Dust. Questions about that mysterious and troubling substance were already causing strife 10 years before His Dark Materials, and at the centre of The Book of Dust is the struggle between a despotic and totalitarian organisation, which wants to stifle speculation and enquiry, and those who believe thought and speech should be free. The idea of Dust suffused His Dark Materials. Little by little through that story the idea of what Dust was became clearer and clearer, but I always wanted to return to it and discover more.”

The announcement has been hailed by James Daunt, Managing Director of Waterstones, as “exhilarating… for those of all ages. Other books, other authors, make claims and bring huge rewards… but it is Philip who cements the sophisticated, unique pleasures of reading.”


Last night (13th February), publicists from across the publishing industry gathered in Central London for the annual Publishers’ Publicity Circle (PPC) Awards, and we were thrilled to scoop the Daily Mail Best Children’s Book Award for our campaign for M.G. Leonard’s debut Beetle Boy.

Praised by the judges for its creativity, our campaign not only established M.G. Leonard as a major new voice in the world of children’s books, drawing comparisons with Roald Dahl himself, but saw wave after wave of coverage thanks to a tenacious and inventive media relations strategy. The team secured over 90 individual media hits, with major coups for a debut author including The Today Programme, BBC News Channel, Blue Peter, The Sun, Psychologies Magazine, The Big Issue and the Guardian.

One of the biggest breakout children’s debuts of 2016, Beetle Boy became a top 10 bestseller, with over 50k copies sold to date and rights snapped up in 35 territories across the globe.

Our win for Beetle Boy comes just weeks after we scooped a PPC Quarterly Award for our work on Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus.


Sam Leith smallSam Leith, the author, columnist and literary editor, will chair the judging panel for the 10th anniversary Desmond Elliott Prize, the “most prestigious award for first-time novelists” (the Telegraph) in the UK and Ireland. Leith will be joined by the award-winning author, Kamila Shamsie, and specialist book buyer for WHSmith, Iain Rushworth, in the hunt to find the best debut novel of the year.

Currently literary editor of the Spectator, Leith also regularly writes for the Financial Times, Prospect and the Guardian. He was named Columnist of the Year at The Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards 2016 for his column in the London Evening Standard and has published three works of non-fiction and one novel, The Coincidence Engine. Leith was a judge on the panel of the 2015 Man Booker Prize and now follows in the footsteps of the acclaimed authors Iain Pears and Louise Doughty, who chaired the Desmond Elliott Prize judging panel in 2016 and 2015 respectively.

Leith said: “As space given over to books coverage across the mainstream media continues to decrease, first-time novelists are finding it harder and harder to get their books reviewed and read. This is why the Desmond Elliott Prize is so vital – it offers an essential platform to promote the work of debut authors and gives one special writer a year the financial support that will help them complete their second book and hopefully go on to enjoy a long and successful career. I’m delighted and honoured to chair the judging panel in the Prize’s tenth anniversary year.”

Shamsie wrote her own debut, In the City by the Sea, while at university. She has gone on to write a further five novels, the most recent of which, A God in Every Stone, was shortlisted for the Baileys Prize, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

As a specialist book buyer for WHSmith, Rushworth is responsible for all buying for the chain’s stand-alone airport and rail bookshops as well as its concession bookshops in Harrods and Selfridges.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017, the Desmond Elliott Prize has a stellar track record for spotting new talent, with past winners including Lisa McInerney, Claire Fuller and Eimear McBride. The Prize is presented in the name of the late publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott, in order to perpetuate his passion for discovering and nurturing emerging authors. The judges, with Desmond’s values in mind, will be looking for vividly written novels with a compelling narrative and arresting characters.

The Chairman of the Prize’s trustees, Dallas Manderson, said: “It is with much excitement that we look forward to discovering our tenth winner. I know that Desmond would be thrilled that his award has brought so much astounding new talent into the spotlight. It’s a delight to be celebrating ten years of dazzling debuts – long may Desmond’s legacy continue.”

A longlist of 10 books will be announced in April and a shortlist in May. The winner will be revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on 21st June 2017 where they will be presented with a cheque for £10,000.

PPC shortlist 2

Hot on the heels of scooping the PPC Quarterly Award for our work on Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus, we are delighted to have been nominated a total of FOUR times for the Annual Awards.

Our campaign for Homo Deus goes head to head with our work on The Path by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh in the Hardback Non-Fiction Category; meanwhile our work on M G Leonard’s smash-hit Beetle Boy and Holly Bourne’s How Hard Can Love Be? received nods in the Children’s and Young Adult categories respectively.

Recognising excellence in the publishing industry, the winners will be announced at a dinner in London on 13th Feb. Wish us luck!

IMG_0208High fives (and champers) all round at the Riot office today as our campaign for Yuval Noah Harari’s HOMO DEUS was named winner of the Publishers’ Publicity Circle (PPC) Quarterly Award.

Praised by judges for the “thorough exploration of all possible avenues” which led to “incredibly impressive amounts of coverage”, our 8-month campaign not only made Homo Deus one of the most talked-about books of the year, which set it sailing into the Sunday Times Bestseller Charts at #3, but also cemented the author’s position as one of the most important global intellectuals writing today.

The win comes almost exactly two years after we scooped the same PPC Award for launching a then-unknown Harari into the bestseller lists for his debut title, Sapiens.