Ex Teacher’s debut novel is a Show Stopper

A former Brentwood School teacher’s show-stopper of a debut novel, which revolves around life in a ‘deadly circus’, has been snapped up by a prestigious publisher and will be released in June.

'Show Stopper’ is a story of death-defying acrobatics, cruel games and forbidden teenage love set in a deadly circus where the children of immigrants are forced to perform in a travelling circus.

Hayley Barker, a Young Adult fiction writer, mum, and teacher, said: "I am so thrilled that ‘Show Stopper’ is to be published by such a world renowned house as Scholastic UK - something which has always felt like an unattainable goal is suddenly really about to happen to me.

“I was at Brentwood for 14 years and loved teaching English at the School so much that the decision to leave was a really difficult one for me. Scholastic have signed me up for two books, but I haven't written the second one yet, so I feel I need to focus my attentions on that. Brentwood holds a special place in my heart so I'm sure I won't be a stranger.”

Lauren Fortune, editorial director at Scholastic UK, struck a two-book deal for world rights with the Madeleine Milburn Agency.

Lauren said: “’Show Stopper’ is by turns dazzling and dark, heartbreaking and heart-racing. It gripped me from the first page – the story is a thrilling tightrope walk between adventure and romance, with astonishing action set-pieces in the circus and danger at every turn. Hayley is a writer to watch and we’re very excited to be publishing her.”

Hayley said she was very excited about the prospect of seeing her novel in print. “I've drafted a couple of other books and have a few ideas up my sleeve, so hopefully these won't be my last books!”

In the ‘Show Stopper’ story, our country has turned its back on inclusion: the descendants of immigrants have been denied status and security and must sell their children to a travelling circus – to perform at the mercy of ravenous lions, sabotaged high wires and a demonic ringmaster.
The ruling class of people called the Pures, visit the circus to escape their structured, safe, high-achieving lives and to experience entertainment with a brutal, bloodthirsty edge.

Ben, the teenage son of a draconian government minister, attends on opening night and falls under the spell of Hoshiko, a tightrope walker and the star attraction. But as he steps beyond the sparkle and spectacle of the circus, to reveal the horrors that lurk beneath, can he find the courage to resist, to rebel, to help end the cruelty and the carnage?'

Headmaster Ian Davies said: ”Everyone at Brentwood School wishes Hayley every success with her writing career and all her former colleagues and students look forward to reading her first book. If the synopsis is anything to go by Hayley will have us all on the edge of our seats!”