Justin Somper

Justin Somper

Justin Somper is an exciting creative talent in children's book publishing. Beginning his career as a writer/editor for Usborne, he joined Puffin Books as a publicist in 1992 and moved to Random House as Children's Publicity Director in 1996. In 1998, Justin broke free to become one of the UK's first specialist children's book publicists. He has since worked with Anthony Horowitz, Louise Rennison, the Roald Dahl literary estate and the Narnia literary estate amongst others.

Now, Justin has made the transition from leading book publicist to bestselling author with the Vampirates sequence. The first title, Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean debuted in 2005. Justin was dubbed "The Next Big Thing" by Sunday Times Magazine while, in Waterstone's "Harry Potter Report", the chain's buyers selected Demons of the Ocean as their top recommendation for fans of Harry Potter. The Sunday Times said Vampirates "promises to be an addictive series". The Evening Standard welcomed "a vivid and bloodthirsty debut", whilst The Times acclaimed "a clever combination of two genres that could make it as popular as Pirates of the Caribbean".

With Demons of the Ocean, Justin won the Birmingham KS3 "Explores" Book Award and the Solihull Children's Book Award. He was runner-up in the North East Children's Book Award and short-listed for the prestigious Red House Children's Book Award. Justin's work has also won praise from fellow children's book authors including Darren Shan who calls it, "An intriguing mix of piracy and vampirism. Justin Somper has brought new terrors to the blood-drenched seas - bravo!!!"

The Sequel
Vampirates: Tide of Terror was published in the UK in August 2006. It was book of the month for the Daily Telegraph's Family Book Club (with a rave review from Carol Thatcher - "I was swept along by the story... entertaining, relevant, interesting and thoroughly commendable") and Blue Peter Book of the Month. Tide of Terror instantly became a top 20 children's books bestseller.

In 2006, Justin made debut appearances at the Hay Festival of Literature, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Cheltenham Festival of Literature, as well as visiting schools and libraries throughout the UK. Particular highlights included an event on the deck of the Cutty Sark and a very enjoyable return to his old primary school in Hatfield.

Vampirates goes Global
2006 saw the release of many of the international editions of Vampirates growing the global phenomenon. The US edition of Demons of the Ocean published in October 2006 and has garnered strong reviews. "This fantastic tale will find many fans," said School Library Journal. The Spanish edition of Vampiratas: Demonios Del Oceano has sold over 30,000 hardback copies and already been reprinted five times. Vampirates has been promoted on the Warsaw metro and in Brazilian cinemas. The Vampirates books are now available in 23 territories wordwide.

World Book Day
In 2007 the Vampirates reached new heights as Justin was invited to write a "£1 book" to mark the 10th World Book Day in March. Vampirates: Dead Deep achieved number 7 in the children's books bestseller lists and number 11 in general bestsellers.

Blue Peter Star Author
In March the same year, Justin was asked by Blue Peter to be the show's first online "Star Author". For this, he wrote a weekly blog on the Blue Peter site for 20 weeks from March to June. During July and August 2007, Justin embarked on his first foreign author tour - in Australia, meeting fans in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. On his return to the UK he appeared again at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Bath Children's Book Festival and the Windsor Children's Book Festival.

"Just read it"
The much anticipated fourth Vampirates novel, Black Heart was published in March 2009. It was widely praised.

"Readers who like their fiction fast, funny and a little gory will lap up Vampirates." The Irish Independent

"Page-turning, award-winning, genre-busting fiction." The Daily Telegraph

What's next?
The fifth book in the Vampirates sequence, Empire of Night will be published in March 2010 in the UK and in August 2010 in the USA. To mark the publication Justin will be touring in the UK in March and USA in September 2010.

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