Neil Shaw-Larkman, whose first book, The Great London Adventure, has sold 25,000 copies in the U.K. since publication in May, embarked on a U.K. media tour last month, culminating with a book signing at Harrods in London on December 22. For Shaw-Larkman there is a pleasing irony about this, as he wrote The Great London Adventure while living rough in London—much of the time in a box outside Harrods, whose zealous doorman tried to move him on. Originally written as a screenplay for animation, the book was rejected by both publishers and animators before Shaw-Larkman, now 39, struck a £50,000 deal with International Media Developments Ltd.

Comparisons with J.K. Rowling are inevitable, as The Great London Adventure is the first in a series of 12 books, each of which is based on an animal mission to defeat evil. The books will be set in 12 capital cities with the intention of teaching children about the history of each city. Book two, The Great New York Adventure, is planned for summer 2002.

Despite taking so long to find a publisher in the U.K., The Great London Adventure attracted considerable interest at Frankfurt, where foreign rights were sold to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Israel and Germany. Further deals with Japan, Korea and Australia are pending. The book is also under offer from two U.K. film companies.

IMD Publishing Ltd. has ambitious plans for the U.S., hoping to find a partner that can handle both book and film rights for the territory.