If you're here, you probably already know I'm a writer. My specialities are historical fiction and information books. I am also a frequent visitor to schools to talk about my books and take creative writing classes.
My book Ausländer, about a teenager in Berlin during the war, came out in 2009. Published in eight different languages, it’s won six book awards, has been shortlisted for 16 others and has taken me all over the UK, and also to Europe and Australia.
Following Ausländer, I wrote Cabinet of Curiosities, a story set in Renaissance Prague featuring large doses of alchemy, skulduggery and the Inquisition. My sixth historical novel for Bloomsbury, Sektion 20, about teenagers in Cold War Berlin, was published in September, 2011 and won the 2012 Historical Association Young Quills Award. These three novels have a common theme – their heroes and heroines all face political or religious extremism.
More recently I've written Eleven Eleven, about three young combatants who are thrown together on the last day of the First World War. It won the 2013 Historical Association Young Quills Book Award.
Please see the heading ‘Schools and Festivals’ below, if you would like me to visit your school to talk about my books.
I've worked in publishing for thirty years. I went freelance in 1999 after eight years with Usborne, where I was a senior editor. Before that I worked for Time-Life, BBC Books, the Science Museum and the National Sound Archive.
History is my specialist subject but I also enjoy writing about natural history, science, geography, in fact almost anything, apart from golf and mechanical engineering. I have a shamefully encyclopaedic knowledge of popular music, and have presented occasional programmes on local radio station WCR 101.8 FM.
I’ve written over 60 books for UK publishers. Most of them have been published in the United States, Commonwealth countries, Europe and elsewhere. If you’d like to follow up what I did before Powder Monkey I could recommend any of the books from Usborne’s Newspaper History series (such as the Egyptian Echo and Roman Record ). These mix historical fact with spoof adverts and rabid tabloid journalism and have been a success with both adults and younger readers. Usborne’s True Stories series are real-life-adventure page-turners and two of them have been shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award.
More recently I’ve written two new illustrated books on the World Wars for Usborne: The Story of the Second World War (2012) which was shortlisted for the School Library Association Information Book Award, and the Story of the First World War, which is due in 2014.
I grew up in Chester and escaped to read History at London University (Goldsmiths’ College 1975-1978). After 15 years in London, I moved to Wolverhampton, where I live with my wife and daughter. I also play with a variety of bands in the pubs and clubs of the West Midlands. (Please see music page for more details.)
Schools and Festivals
I enjoy schools visits, festivals and library conferences. I’ve talked about my books on Radio 4, in schools all over the UK, and in Europe and Australia. I’ve also appeared at the Edinburgh, Cheltenham and Hay Book Festivals.
Over the summer of 2011 I visited Western Australia to be writer in residence at Christ Church Grammar School, in Perth. Closer to home, I have also worked as writer in residence with St Peter’s Collegiate School in Wolverhampton.
Over 2011 and 2012 I helped devise and present Warwick University’s Young Researchers Programme – designed to get school pupils interested in writing, researching, and ultimately, going to University.
I give illustrated talks on the following books:
I also take Primary and Secondary school writing workshops on the following subjects:
Recently I have been taking creative writing workshops linked to my book ‘Eleven Eleven’, set on the final day of The First World War. This has worked well and producing some excellent imaginative writing.
Between 2001-2005 I taught a course in writing children's picture books at the Midlands Arts Centre (mac) in Birmingham, and several of my students went on to be published. I now take workshops for festivals or writers’ groups on creative writing, writing children’s books and historical fiction.
Please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more about my school talks and workshops.
I am represented by Charlie Viney of The Viney Agency. email@example.com
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