Publisher Profile: Tor Teen & Starscape
The CBC asks Anthony Parisi, Sr. Associate Director of Marketing at Tor Publishing Group, questions about the publisher.
How did your publishing house start out?
Tor Publishing Group (previously Tom Doherty Associates) was founded in 1980 by Tom Doherty with the launch of the adult science fiction and fantasy imprint, Tor Books. Tom Doherty Associates eventually became a division of Macmillan, and in 2003 established two imprints dedicated to children’s and young adult literature. Starscape focuses on early chapter books and middle-grade fiction, while Tor Teen publishes young adult fiction. Both imprints have become known for publishing quality science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary fiction, including books by W. Bruce Cameron, Cory Doctorow, Susan Dennard, Kendare Blake, Mark Oshiro, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Bethany C. Morrow, TJ Klune, and more. In fact, 2023 marks our 20th anniversary!
Which genres does your house prefer to publish?
Tor Teen and Starscape have published a wide variety of books across multiple genres. However, in the past few years, we’ve fully dedicated our resources to publishing approximately 9-12 frontlist books per year across both imprints—with a focus on speculative fiction and contemporary fiction for young readers and teens. Since our adult counterpart, Tor Books, is the premiere publisher of science fiction and fantasy, we can’t help but lean into what we know best!
With each book we publish, our mission is to awaken a lifelong passion for reading in young readers, offering them a broader vision of what’s possible. We strive to publish authors and books that reflect the experiences of people of all ethnicities and backgrounds, and those who identify as LGBTQIA+. Our goal is for our readers to find a piece of themselves in the books we publish and to create meaningful stories for every reader.
What’s a title that your house recently rallied behind?
As a publisher, we’re big fans of Susan Dennard, the New York Times bestselling author of the beloved epic fantasy Witchlands series. And last year, in November 2022, we had the privilege of publishing Susan’s brand new contemporary fantasy, The Luminaries [ISBN: 9781250194046], which became an instant New York Times bestseller. As soon as Tor Teen staff read the manuscript, we fell in love with the broody characters and the haunting setting of Hemlock Falls. This new series introduces a small town where an ancient order of monster hunters, a nightmare-filled forest, and leather-jacket-wearing brooding bad boys reside. Readers will follow sixteen-year-old Winnie Wednesday as she embarks on deadly hunter trials, navigates a complicated relationship with her ex-best friend Jay Friday, and brings to light hidden family secrets. If you love the otherworldly drama that unfolds in TV shows like Riverdale, Wednesday, and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, The Luminaries is right up your alley. And its sequel—The Hunting Moon—will continue Winnie Wednesday’s adventures when it hits shelves soon, coming this November.
Which titles have your house been buzzing about this past year?
There have been some really exciting titles published this year from Tor Teen:
Blood Debts by Terry J. Benton-Walker [ISBN: 9781250825926] is an extraordinary YA contemporary fantasy debut from a writer to watch. Thirty years after a brutal magical massacre in New Orleans, twin heirs to the powerful dethroned family are mourning the loss of their father and caring for their ailing mother. That is, until the twins perform a good luck spell in hopes of healing their mother, only to discover that she isn’t sick—she’s cursed. Cursed by someone on the very magic council their family used to rule, and that someone is coming for them next. Blood Debts is dripping in magic and filled with deadly family drama, intergenerational curses, and pertinent social commentary.
Into the Light by Mark Oshiro [ISBN: 9781250812254] has racked up three starred reviews, and is proving to be another standout, ripped-from-the-headlines story from the New York Times bestselling author of Anger Is a Gift. Into the Light is an edge-of-your-seat YA mystery that you have to read to believe. It begins with an unidentified body discovered in the hills of Idyllwild, CA. Readers will be on the journey with protagonist Manny as he’s off to discover if the body belongs to his estranged older sister. This is a visceral, important read about family, agency, identity, and beliefs that truly can’t be missed.
Find Him Where You Left Him Dead [ISBN: 9781250851123] is Kristen Simmons’s masterful breakout horror novel about estranged friends playing a deadly game in a nightmarish folkloric underworld. Four years ago, five kids started a game. Not all of them survived. Now, at the end of their senior year of high school, the four survivors have reunited for one strange and terrible reason: they’ve been summoned by the ghost of Ian, the friend they left for dead. Find Him Where You Left Him Dead is a bone-chilling read brimming with Japanese mythology and high-stakes action that will have readers at the edge of their seats.
Which of your new titles would be great for a classroom? Which grade?
I may be biased, but we have many titles that would be perfect for classroom use! However, this past summer, Starscape published the enchanting middle-grade debut from award-winning author P. Djèlí Clark, which I know will be a perfect addition to the classroom or curriculum.
Abeni’s Song [ISBN: 9781250825827] is the start of a thrilling West African and African Diaspora-inspired fantasy adventure series that follows a young apprentice to magic as she tries to rescue her captive villagers who were possessed by a cursed song. It’s a coming-of-age tale of triumph, friendship, and full of awe-inspiring (and, at times, terrifying) magic! Ultimately, this is a hopeful story of an indomitable heroine that young readers can’t help but be inspired by.
Abeni’s Song is one of those books that truly feels special while you’re reading it. The writing is lyrical and gorgeous, and as Booklist put it: “This has the feel of a classic fantasy, something that will be passed down for generations to come.” Abeni’s Song is unlike anything I’ve ever read before for young readers—a fitting read for Grade 4 or higher.
Name a few of your favorite backlist titles that people should check out.
The Extraordinaries [ISBN: 9781250203663] by the beloved author of The House in the Cerulean Sea, TJ Klune, is the start to a YA series and a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the superheroes he loves. Readers will be laughing-out-loud from start to finish—recommended for teens, ages 13 and up.
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow [ISBN: 9781250315335] is a scintillating, modern fantasy about Black sirens, friendship, and self-discovery set against the challenges of today’s racism and sexism. Recommended for teens, ages 13 and up.
All of Us Villains [ISBN: 9781250789273] by the co-writing duo of Amanda Foody and C. L. Herman is a brilliant tale of ambition and magick. Readers may have thought they fell in love with the victors of the Hunger Games…but just you wait until you meet the villains of the Blood Veil. Recommended for teens, ages 13 and up.
Lily to the Rescue [ISBN: 9781250234353] by the New York Times bestselling author of A Dog’s Purpose, W. Bruce Cameron, is an irresistible chapter book series featuring the adorable Lily, a rescue dog who rescues other animals! With a total of eight Lily adventures now in publication, readers can collect them all. Recommended for young readers, ages 7-10—especially those who can’t get enough of their furry friends!
Thank you, Tor Teen and Starscape!