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27Apr

‘Life is short, so you have to get on with it’: AF Steadman on unicorns, leaving law and her record-breaking book deal

Eight years after her vision of a mythical beast, the author is about to publish the first novel in the Skandar Smith trilogy. She talks about childhood and taking a chance on a dream career

Annabel Steadman was a 22-year-old trainee solicitor commuting between London and Oxford when she had a vision of a unicorn. “I wasn’t thinking about writing a book at all. It just kind of came into my head as I was walking along,” she says. “I saw this image of a unicorn, with a boy riding it. And I immediately knew that it wasn’t the fluffy kind that were starting to come into the shops at that time.”

Eight years later, she is about to launch a series of novels, the first three of which secured an eye-watering seven-figure advance believed to be the largest ever paid to a debut children’s writer. The first in the series is already being translated into 38 languages, and a film script is in development.

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