November 7th, 2014

I am delighted to report that SMART has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2015 . . .

. . . shortlisted for the Leeds Book Awards 2015 . . .

. . . shortlisted for the very first Shropshire Teenage Book Award 2105

. . . shortlisted for the St Helen’s Book Awards (BASH) 2015

. . . and shortlisted for the Worcestershire Teen Book Award 2015 (WTBA)


November 7th, 2014


My agent, Clare Wallace, and I travelled down to Plymouth at the weekend to take part in the Literature Works inaugural New Writers Conference at Plymouth University.

The event was well attended by writers, with the itinerary packed with tips and advice from authors, agents and editors. Clare and I spoke to delegates about getting an agent and a publishing deal. We included an exciting live submission session where writers volunteered to read out their work and got valuable on-the-spot feedback.

Events like the New Writers’ Conference can really help to inspire and drive a writer through the tough times, when patience and self-believe are often tested to the limits. It is helpful to view the time and money involved in attending as an investment in your writing future, providing a much needed injection of inspiration and fresh ideas.

Because keeping going is what matters in this game; driving through the inevitable disappointment and difficulties is what will get you there.

Feedback from participants has been great and I wish everyone who attended the very best of luck in their own writing journey.


June 8th, 2014

Thursday, 5th June 2014 felt like a long time coming following my initial signing with Macmillan publishers in September 2012 but the wait was well worth it because publication day DID arrive and what a wonderful day it was. I finally got to experience the realisation of many years writing and studying at university, finally coming to fruition.

Waterstones, Nottingham did a brilliant job of hosting the event with Fi and Dan working their socks off to ensure everything went smoothly.

I was overwhelmed with the turnout of my launch when almost a hundred people packed into the wonderful Sillitoe Room on the fourth floor. The sun shone and we enjoyed panoramic views of the city as the wine flowed and we enjoyed my stepson Jake’s singing and acoustic guitar-playing as people arrived.

It was so exciting to see my agent Clare Wallace, in-house editor Vicki le Feuvre and rights assistant Mary Darby, all from the Darley Anderson Literary Agency in London. My editor Rachel Kellehar and publicist Catherine Alport from Macmillan Children’s Books arrived early to help with the organisation of the event.

My family were all there, including my daughter, Francesca and my fiance Mac, together with my other stepson, Nathan and of course my parents. Some people had travelled considerable distances to be there and I so appreciated everyone’s efforts.

Following a very touching short speech from my wonderful editor, Rachel, I read a chapter from the book and spoke about the writing journey that started proper in 2007 when I embarked on a full-time English & Creative Writing degree, followed by an MA in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University.

After that came a question and answer session and then a book signing. This went better than I could have imagined with the book selling out and the store taking more orders.

Debut authors organising their own very first book launch party may find the following tips useful:

The reading: It’s always nice for the author to read a passage or chapter from the book. Choose one that’s not too long but that gives a good snapshot of the main character and encompasses several themes of what the book is about.

The author speech/talk: Always good to make notes or pointers in case your mind goes blank but try to avoid reading a speech by rote. Also good to write down the people you want to thank as it’s so easy to forget someone important and spend the rest of your life feeling guilty!

Tiredness: Don’t under-estimate how much energy it takes to meet and greet, ‘perform’ on stage, sign books afterwards and then mingle with your guests. Get plenty of rest beforehand and try not to get too stressed – book launch parties are hard work!

Enjoy it: – sounds obvious but the time flies by. Enjoy the celebration of your achievement!

See me reading a little bit of Smart in the short video clip below!

Book Launch clip