Rebecca James’ Beautiful Malice—one of the most highly anticipated teen novels of the year—was launched in Leichhardt, Sydney, on Monday night. Despite the large turnout, this was a relaxed and intimate event hosted by Shearers Bookshop at the Palace Norton Street Cinema.
Allen & Unwin publisher Erica Wagner—who was the first to acquire rights to Beautiful Malice and in so doing set the ball rolling worldwide—kicked things off with an enthusiastic speech about this now-famous ‘dream’ publishing story of a virtual unknown plucked from the slush pile, propelled into an international bidding frenzy and declared ‘the next JK Rowling’ by The Wall Street Journal.
Beautiful Malice was then officially launched by ABC media personality James O’Loughlin. After musing on why he was asked to do so (‘Was it because Andrew Denton said no?’), he went on to earnestly praise the book as a brilliant psychological thriller in which you just want to know what happens next: ‘The kind of book that’d go well if Joe Tripodi launched it’.
After the book was formally declared ‘open’, Rebecca James took centre stage to give a warm, humble and wryly amusing speech. She expressed how ‘overwhelming and amazingly exciting’ everything was and that, while she never imagined the extraordinary reaction that Beautiful Malice would be met with around the world, she was pleasantly surprised and very proud.
Her affectionate and generous acknowledgments were followed by an insightful Q&A session in which she discussed the hard work involved in juggling both the writing and editorial process with raising four young children. (Her answer: ‘Duct tape.’) While she was noticeably reticent about discussing her ‘real’ first book, Nightswimming, she happily mentioned that she is working away on a follow-up, tentatively titled Cooper Bartholomew is Dead.
Afterwards, everyone gathered in Shearers Bookshop for food and drinks where Rebecca signed copies of Beautiful Malice for her new and eager fans.
Beautiful Malice ($24.99) is reviewed in the latest edition of Junior Bookseller and Publisher (you can read the review on page 23 of the magazine online here). The book has been sold into 37 territories around the world and is now available to buy in Australian bookstores.
Meredith Tate is a Bookseller+Publisher reviewer, freelance editor and writer and has worked for a children’s publisher.