When I was at primary school I loved reading funny books like Brer Rabbit, The Twits and the Just William series. I read the same books over and over and loved them literally to bits. At secondary school I enjoyed mostly thrillers and whodunnits: 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, missionary, 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. My inspiration? Living and working in West Africa for thirteen years. All 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 Charlie Davies and our two young daughters, Liberty (6) and Daisy (3). 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. Most of my school visits are organized through Authors Abroad, including my popular Able Writers Days. However, feel free to arrange a school visit directly if you so wish.
Aside from reading and writing, I have a great love of chess and suiboku (Japanese ink painting). Oh, and I’m very tall – 6 foot 6 – so don’t be too shocked by that if I visit your school!
Hope you enjoy browsing this site.