Glad you dropped by! Mind if I tell you about my brand new book? Thanks. It’s called CHESSBOXER and is about a snarky and rebellious chess prodigy who takes up chessboxing. You can read reviews of it here.
CHESSBOXER is my nineteenth published book. You can find out about the others here.
My next book is due in September 2020 and is the fourth in the Hilda TV tie-in series based on the popular Netflix animation. If you like stories about plucky, blue-haired adventurers who encounter giants, trolls and elves, do give the Hilda series a go.
At primary school I enjoyed Brer Rabbit, The Twits and the Just William series. I read them over and over and loved them literally to bits. In secondary school I chose mostly thrillers and whodunits: books by Agatha Christie, Alistair Maclean and Arthur Conan Doyle. In my late teens I discovered Coleridge, Hemingway and a raft of other wonderful writers too numerous to mention. I fell in love with words and ideas, and began to read voraciously. I started to write, too, filling whole exercise books with inelegant haiku and wildly improbable stories.
I have had a few different jobs over the years: apple picker, rice farmer, English teacher and radio producer. Through all those seasons of life, I continued to read and write. Some of my writing appeared in poetry journals and newspaper travel supplements. My first children’s book, Sophie and the Albino Camel, was published by Andersen Press and won the Glen Dimplex award for children’s fiction.
Since the Sophie series came out, I have written many more books for young people. The inspiration for many of these books was my thirteen years in West Africa. You will notice that lots of my books are set in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. ‘Write what you know’ is generally good advice, and it has served me well.
In July 2014 I moved back to London with my wife and two daughters. One upside of being back in England is that I get to visit lots of schools and encourage young people in their own story writing. My school visits are organized through Authors Abroad, including Able Writers Days. If you are a teacher and want to arrange a visit, please do drop them a line. They’re ever so friendly and efficient.
Aside from reading and writing, I have a great love of Chinese ink painting and chess. Oh, and I’m freakishly tall – 6 foot 7 – so don’t be too shocked by that if I visit your school!
Hope you enjoy browsing this site.
For Press: you can download high-res portrait photos by clicking on the thumbnails below: