Friday, 11 October 2013



PARTNERS IN CRIME is now 10 years old so it is particularly pleasing and surprising that it has just been shortlisted for a prize. It is in the Quick Reads category of the Coventry Inspiration Book Award. The award is for books which will get readers hooked on reading. The Coventry awards are unique in the country in that they have something for all ages, including adults and involve the whole family and the whole community.  

I guess that I always write in the hope that the book will hook young readers and make them readers for life, but this is especially true for the books I write for Barrington Stoke who specialise in producing books for young people who aren’t naturally drawn to reading.  

The Coventry award is decided in a novel way, as in January 2014 they hold weekly eliminations of the shortlist "Big Brother" style until only the winners are left standing. Fingers crossed that PARTNERS IN CRIME will be one of those.

Although PARTNERS IN CRIME does work with ‘reluctant’ readers, I recently saw how its appeal goes right across the spectrum. The book is being used by Folkestone Academy as part of their English course for all their Year 8 students. They invited me down to talk to the whole year group and I did four sessions in which I talked about writing in general and then PARTNERS IN CRIME in particular. I was very gratified to see and hear the students’ enthusiasm for the book – their questions and comments showed how much they had enjoyed and been engaged by the story as part of their course and teachers reported that many of them had borrowed the books to re-read at home. 

The students asked many interesting and wide-ranging questions in each of the sessions but one question that came up in all four sessions was who was who on the cover. It’s a credit to the cover designer that when I turned the question back on them and asked them to say which character was which they unfailingly identified Marco, Perry and Toddie.

If you've read and enjoyed the book, you can vote and comment on the Coventry Inspiration site :

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


After years of being unavailable in the UK and the US, THE HEART OF THE VALLEY can now be downloaded on Kindle. It is my only book for adults - though I hope young people could read it with pleasure in the same way as I hope that many of my books for teenagers such as TIME BOMB and WALK THE WILD ROAD could be enjoyed by adults.

I'm currently reading THE HEART OF THE VALLEY aloud to my elderly sister who is in hospital and I find myself wondering how on earth I wrote it - it seems to know so much more than I do! I remember that it took me over two years to write it and that much of that time was spent simply looking. Really looking. At trees, at birds, at clouds, at hedgerows, at tracks in the grass, at shadows as the sun moved. At everything in the valley where I lived. And in many ways I realised that I was seeing for the first time. Really seeing. At the same time I was reading works by people who had looked as intensely as I was doing - Wordsworth, Thoreau, John Stewart Collis. I was also intrigued by the similarities I was finding in mystical books and the latest scientific speculations about the sub-atomic world.

I suppose somehow all those things came together and, in the mysterious crucible of the imagination created something that surprises even me.