A hip and iconoclastic Brooklyn press that focuses on gritty noir fiction but is most known for publishing a faux children’s picture book aimed at frustrated and tired parents, Go the F**k to Sleep, is really moving into children’s book publishing this fall. Akashic Books will publish YA and middle-grade fiction under the Black Sheep imprint, beginning in February 2014, with Changers, Book One: Drew, a YA novel by T Cooper and Allison Glock, the first in a four-book series about a protagonist who assumes a different identity in each book, and Game World by C.J. Farley, a middle-grade novel, which will include both fantasy elements and illustrations.
Akashic’s publisher, Johnny Temple, says that his staff has been interested for years in publishing YA and middle-grade fiction, but what held them back was their feeling that they didn’t understand the genre well enough. Noting that he’s recently been reading up on YA, Temple says he’s been “blown away” by what he’s read, especially Jacqueline Woodson’s 2012 Beneath a Meth Moon. “There’s not as much of a gap between YA and adult fiction as many of us thought there was,” Temple says. “There’s great crossover, in the same way that literary fiction and mysteries can cross over.”
Emphasizing that Black Sheep titles will respect the conventions in YA literature—that there not be excessive sex, profanity, or violence—Temple says that the imprint’s two debut YA releases are “particularly strong” and suit Akashic’s adult list as much as PG-rated books can suit a list containing authors who don’t usually hold back when it comes to sex, profanity, and violence.
Akashic wants to prove this claim to booksellers. The publisher, whose books are distributed by Consortium, will be giving away autographed galleys of Changers, Book One: Drew and Game World at its booth (1104A), and Cooper, Glock, and Farley will be on hand this afternoon at 3 p.m. to give “sneak peek” readings of their Black Sheep novels.