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Penguin Young Readers Group Acquires Highly-Anticipated Debut Novel ‘An Ember in the Ashes’ in Major Pre-Empt

New York, NY — Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, has acquired Sabaa Tahir’s highly-anticipated debut novel An Ember in the Ashes in a major pre-empt. Film rights have already been sold to Paramount Pictures in a seven-figure deal, also pre-emptive, with Academy Award-winning producer Mark Johnson (Breaking BadThe Chronicles of NarniaThe Notebook) attached. Sally Willcox at CAA handled the sale of film rights while Alexandra Machinist of Janklow & Nesbit negotiated the book deal with Ben Schrank, President and Publisher of Razorbill. Gillian Levinson, Associate Editor, Razorbill, will edit the novel, which is scheduled for publication in winter 2015. Razorbill has World English rights.

Set in a high-fantasy world with echoes of ancient Rome, An Ember in the Ashes tells the story of two teenagers fighting to survive under the Empire’s brutal, militaristic regime, which has outlawed reading among the once-powerful “Scholar” class. The “Scholars” live under the oppression of the “Martials,” (aka Masks) who silently assassinate insurgents. The novel was inspired by the author’s experiences as an editor on the foreign desk at The Washington Post and as a child growing up in the Mojave Desert.

Sabaa, a former editor at The Washington Post, says that she was moved by articles about “Kashmiri women whose husbands or sons were imprisoned by the army with little explanation and no hope of release, Liberian child soldiers who tied teddy bears to their backpacks while toting AK-47s,” and a “Sudanese refugee who said he couldn’t let himself love his infant son, because the boy was going to die anyway.” Realizing that she wouldn’t be able to fight such injustice directly, Sabaa decided to write something that “captured the violence of our world and our history, and juxtaposed it with characters who find hope, who search for freedom and love even when society wants to crush them.” It was from this impulse that An Ember in the Ashes was born.

Don Weisberg, President of Penguin Young Readers Group, said, “As a fan of ancient Roman and Greek history, I was immediately enthralled with the world EMBER creates. It pulled me in, and I didn’t want the book to end.”

Ben Schrank said, “It is a novel that knows its reader. When you want more, it anticipates and provides. And then it tantalizes. The novel, like the mask it describes, actually grips you tight and does not let go.”

Gillian Levinson said, “I felt an immediate connection to the characters Sabaa’s created. This is a beautifully written, high-stakes novel with thematic undertones that will encourage readers to view our own world in a new light.” 

Sabaa Tahir was born in London but grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at an 18-room motel. During a summer internship at The Washington Post, she wrote an Outlook piece on arranged marriage from her perspective as a South Asian. Little did she know that this would result in an offer of a reality TV show on MTV, a dozen marriage proposals, and one phone call that turned out to be from her future husband. After graduating from UCLA, Sabaa accepted a full-time position as an editor on the foreign desk at The Post. Three summers later, in 2007, she came up with the concept for An Ember in the Ashes. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and children. An Ember in the Ashes is her first book.

Razorbill is an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. Titles include the #1 New York Times bestseller Thirteen Reasons Why, celebrating its fifth year in print this fall with over 1.25 million copies in print, the international #1 bestselling Vampire Academy series and the #1 bestselling Golden Lily, a Bloodlines novel, all from Richelle Mead. Razorbill is also home to Robert Paul Weston’s Creature Department, a collaboration with special effects group Framestore, and Morgan Rhodes’ New York Times bestselling Falling Kingdoms and many other award-winning and New York Times bestselling books.

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