New York, NY – October may be pulling a trick on everyone this year by cancelling Halloween, but on the brighter side, National Book Month brings lots of treats and plenty of reason to celebrate! In honor of National Book Month, Black Rose Writing is offering a special treat for kids of all ages and even the young at heart: Andrew Avner’s new middle grade Latinx eBook TORO available for free via Amazon Kindle, Oct. 28 through 31, just in time to close out National Book Month.
“So many families with kids are facing hard times, and I’d love TORO to bring them some hope, inspiration, joy, and amusement,” says Avner. “Offering the free eBook for four days is a simple way to help and give back.”
TORO is set in the colorful backdrop of Pamplona, Spain during the fiestas of San Fermin and the running of the bulls, famed as one of the most exhilarating, dangerous, and spectacular events around the world. Ultimately, it’s a heartfelt, coming-of-age fable told from the cattle’s point of view. Like Charlotte’s Web, The Jungle Book, and Fantastic Mr. Fox, anthropomorphic talking animals drive the narrative.
Alicia Catalina Cortes is a fast and fiery Spanish cow who desperately wants to run with the bulls in Pamplona — but since she’s a cow, tradition forbids her to partake in the fiesta of San Fermin. Through her journey, Alicia learns that to be noble and brave, she must follow her dream and her heart, even if it means defying tradition.
TORO marks Avner’s debut as an author. Initially a film concept, the book took over twenty years to arrive on the shelves and the digital market.
A filmmaker by trade with experience and relations in Hollywood, Avner first conceived TORO as an animated feature told from the animals’ perspective. The inspiration came from watching the best of Disney and Pixar, according to the author, who holds a Fine Arts degree in Film and Television from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Major animation studios, award-winning directors, and internationally renowned actors loved the idea of a TORO film—with Antonio Banderas circling the project and Jennifer Lopez attached to voice the lead role and produce the movie with Avner at one point. Yet, the stars never seemed to align to make the film a reality. “Countless times a TORO movie was almost made,” recalls Avner. However, after over a decade of frustration on the film front, Avner decided to go a different route and wrote TORO as a middle grade novel instead.
Similar to his experience trying to get the TORO film made, the literary endeavor also proved to be somewhat of a challenge for the first-time author. Shortly after completing the manuscript, he lost his book agent and was left without any prospects for new representation or publication.
Undaunted, the then-aspiring author decided to take the bull by the horns in true indie spirit. With the help of voice actor friends, Avner produced the audiobook version of TORO, recording it entirely in the kitchen of his West Hollywood apartment with virtually no budget other than a $79 software plugin and even voicing a few main characters himself. By April 2020 TORO, the full-cast audiobook was complete with spectacular narration by Brad Raider and extraordinary performances by George Spielvogel, Malili Dib, Leila Cohen, and Yolanda Corrales, plus world-class post-production by Jacob Morgan.
Just a few months later, the effort paid off. Avner secured a publishing deal with independent publisher Black Rose Writing who agreed to release the audiobook along with TORO eBook and paperback editions.
“The story behind the story is one of faith and self-reliance, to pursue a vision or dream in the face of impossible odds, to defy immeasurable rejection and succeed. My personal story as an artist and the narrative of my book are the same—hopeful and uplifting,” remarks Avner about his determination to bring TORO to fruition.
On the heels of its release, the accolades for TORO began rolling in. Positive reviews were followed by a recent NYC Big Book Award for “Best Audiobook” and “Distinguished Favorite” in the Juvenile Fiction category. Currently, TORO is nominated for a prestigious Cybils Award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category and is being considered for the Odyssey Award, Newbery Medal, and National Book Award.
Having discovered a passion for writing novels, Avner is now vested in Alicia’s story for the long run. TORO is only the first in a projected three-book series, reveals the filmmaker-turned-author, who has not given up on an animated film or even a live-action virtual production in the vein of Disney’s The Jungle Book (2016), whereby photorealistic talking animals appear alongside real actors. In the meantime, it seems the sequel to TORO may likely be set in Fort Worth, Texas.
TORO Kindle and paperback editions are available now via Amazon and all major book retailers. TORO audiobook is available via Audible, Amazon, and Apple Books.
To listen to an excerpt from the TORO audiobook, please click HERE.
For more information about TORO, please visit: www.AndrewAvner.com/Toro
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About Andrew Avner
Philadelphian Andrew Avner graduated with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television. After working in Manhattan with Academy Award-winning producer David Brown, Avner relocated to Los Angeles to develop his own original material. He’s currently writing and producing short films for The Walt Disney Company while penning his next novel.
For more information about Andrew Avner, please visit him at www.andrewavner.com and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewAvner, Instagram at @AndrewAvner, and Facebook at @Andrew.Avner
About Black Rose Writing
Black Rose Writing is an independent publishing house that strongly believes in developing a personal relationship with their authors. The Texas-based publishing company, established in 2006, features books from an array of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s book genres, all having one thing in common, an individual’s originality and hard work. Black Rose Writing is a proud member of IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association), a recognized ITW (International Thriller Writers) publisher, a member of Publishers Marketplace, and currently serving on the Ingram Publisher Advisory Board.
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