Byte the Book Writer-in-Residence Chris Russell Scores a Three-Book Deal with Hodder

Posted by Justine Solomons on 20 April 2015, in News

On 30 March 2015, Hodder Children’s Books announced the acquisition of Songs About A Girl by Chris Russell. Senior Commissioning Editor Naomi Greenwood acquired UK & Commonwealth rights from Ed Wilson at Johnson & Alcock in a three-book deal. Songs About A Girl will publish in summer 2016, with books two and three to follow in 2017.

Chris Russell is a novelist and musician based in London. He has performed all over the world with his band The Lightyears, appearing at Wembley Stadium and Glastonbury Festival and performing with rock legends such as Roger Daltrey (The Who) and Roger Taylor (Queen). An experienced songwriter, Chris will be writing an album of original material to accompany each novel.


Songs About a Girl is a modern love story about heartbreak, pop music and the power of teenage obsession.

When fifteen-year-old aspiring photographer Charlie Bloom receives the invitation of her dreams – to take backstage photos for chart-topping boyband Fire&Lights – it's an offer she can't refuse. Overnight she is launched into a world of bloggers, paparazzi and backstage bickering and soon becomes caught between the dark charms of the band's star member and songwriter, Gabriel West, and his squeaky clean bandmate Olly Samson.

At school, Charlie's growing notoriety makes her a daily target for vicious bully Aimee Watts, and though she seeks comfort in her best friend, Melissa, her life spirals ever further out of control.

As her connection with Gabriel deepens, Charlie stumbles upon a spine-tingling truth: all the songs he has written for Fire&Lights' debut album are, impossibly, about her. How can this be? What dark secrets from the past has he uncovered? Why is Melissa acting so strangely all the time? And will the rivalry between Gabriel and Olly eventually tear the band apart…?

The Inspiration

Chris comments: “In early 2013 I picked up a freelance job ghostwriting for a One Direction fan-club. As a “gossip columnist” of sorts, I soon knew almost everything there was to know about Styles and Co., and within a couple of weeks had developed a genuine obsession with them. Stockholm Syndrome, basically. What’s more, I was immersed in the fan community on a daily basis, and became fascinated by the intense devotion that boybands inspire. We’ve all been there, of course, listening to your favourite album as a teenager and daydreaming that it’s written about you. And that’s when it hit me: what if the songs really were about you…? That’s where the book came from.”

Byte The Book’s involvement

Chris comments: “When I transferred into publishing from the music business in 2013, I was unrepresented, unpublished and barely knew a single soul in the industry. I came across Byte The Book on Twitter, speculatively attended an event, and by nine o’clock that night was in the pub with two extremely charming - and influential - literary agents. Shortly afterwards, Justine very kindly made me her writer-in-residence, and soon I was attending every single month. A year and a half later I have a fantastic agent, tons of publishing contacts and a three-book deal with a major publisher, and while only my initial publishing deal (with Red Button for my debut novel Mockstars) came directly from a Byte connection, in truth I’m certain that being part of the network has given me a leg-up on all fronts. Other than working like a demon and never (ever) giving up, I’d say joining Byte The Book is pretty much the best thing an aspiring writer can do.” You can join Byte the Book here.

You can buy Chris' debut adult novel, Mockstars, published by Red Button here.

Further information

- Booktrade press release

- Bookseller article link

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