Readers, librarians, and booksellers alike are excited by today’s release of Orca Book Publishers’ Seven Sequels, a batch of follow ups to the hugely successful Seven Series, which launched October 2012.
The Seven Series, conceived by prolific author Eric Walters, was the first of its kind: seven novels geared to boys, written by seven authors, about seven teen grandsons of the same man. The premise of the books is unusual – when the grandfather dies, he leaves behind a will assigning each of the boys an adventurous task – as was the fact that all seven books were released simultaneously, though they could be read in any order or as standalone novels.
“It was a risky project to bring out seven titles like that, but it worked really well,” Orca Books publisher Andrew Wooldridge told Q&Q in June. The gamble paid off: to date, the books have sold more than 100,000 copies in North America alone, with rights sold to India, Korea, Brazil, and for World French. Unabridged audio books for both sets of instalments are also available.
Walters penned one of the novels, Between Heaven and Earth, with the roster of authors rounded out by Ted Staunton (Jump Cut), John Wilson (Lost Cause), Richard Scrimger (Ink Me), Sigmund Brouwer (Devil’s Pass), Shane Peacock (Last Message), and Norah McClintock (Close to the Heel). All seven original authors have returned for the second round of books, which continue the stories of the characters they created in the first instalments.
Wooldridge attributes much of the series’ success to the authors, who toured tirelessly, often as a band of seven, promoting the books and engaging with young readers at school and library visits. “Their involvement really made a difference,” says Wooldridge.
At a recent appearance at the Word on the Street Toronto to discuss the sequels, Peacock, Scrimger, and Staunton played coy when asked if another batch were in the works. Much, they said, would depend on getting the whole group on board again, as adding another author to the mix or losing one would alter the series too much for it to be successful in the same way.
However, plans are well underway for a similar series from Orca, this time geared to girls. Secrets (again spearheaded by Walters, who will write one of the books), will tell the separate stories of seven girls as they each set out to uncover their pasts. An eclectic bunch of authors are slated to write the books – Walters and fellow Seven Series author Norah McClintock will be joined by Teresa Toten, Kathy Kacer, Marthe Jocelyn, Vikki Grant, and Kelley Armstrong. Publication is slated for October 2015.
Wooldridge says that while the concept is the same as the Seven Series and Sequels, the Secrets series is a completely separate thing. “I almost wish we’d done six or eight, to avoid having them lumped together,” he says.
Still, comparison might not be a bad thing. If the continued success of the first Seven books, which are still selling in strong numbers, is any indication, there is an appetite among young readers for this type of series. “I have hopes that they’ll do as well as, if not better than, the first books,” says Wooldridge. “But with sequels it’s always hard to tell.”