North East Book Award 2013 ‘Highly Commended’!

When an author sends their work out into the world, what they really want is for people to embrace the book, to love the book, and find something in it that they enjoy. Doesn’t always happen, though. In fact, it’s difficult to even let people know that your book exists, and it’s easy for it to get swept along with all the other books, and disappear.

That’s why it’s so great to be shortlisted for something. It means people have noticed your book, and that they’ve seen something in it they like. So I was excited to learn that My Friend The Enemy was shortlisted for the North East Book Award 2013, along with some other fantastic books – Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll, Poison Boy by Fletcher Moss, and Chasing The Dark by Sam Hepburn.

And last night was the Award Presentation Party . . .

What a great evening! Over 250 young readers came along and some of them braved the long walk up to the stage to introduce their favourite books – Sarah and Anna did a fantastic job of introducing me (and My Friend The Enemy). I spoke to them before the event and knew they were a little nervous, but no one would have known. They delivered their introduction like seasoned professionals. After our introduction, the authors each spoke for a few minutes, answered a few questions, and then it was golden envelope time.

photoWell, My Friend The Enemy didn’t win – that honour went to the very deserving Emma Carroll – but MFTE was picked out as the ‘Highly Commended’ book, so that’s fantastic. And what made it even more special was that the voting was all done by the young readers (not a panel of stuffy adults) and that I was standing in front of my home crowd!

So here’s a huge thank you to Eileen Armstrong for organising such a fantastic event, to Sarah and Anna for their brilliant introduction, and to all the young readers who came along to meet us and talk to us afterwards. It is, after all, those young readers who matter the most, and it was such a privilege to see them so excited about books and stories and reading.



That’s all.

Saving The World

Wirral Paperback of the Year 2014I was back in Wirral last week – or is it THE Wirral? I did ask while I was there, but there seemed to be a difference of opinion.

Anyway, I was there to talk about My Friend The Enemy, which has been longlisted for the Wirral Paperback of the Year. It was a good chance to meet other longlistees – fellow Chicken Sam Hepburn, Dave Cousins (who might have a future in stand-up), Siobhan Corham and Kate O’Hearn – but best of all was the chance to meet lots of lively young readers from a number of local schools who came to meet us.

The event was well organised by the fantastic staff of Wirral Libraries, and the students who came to listen to us managed a whole two hours with no one falling asleep!

Novelists aren’t saving the world. We’re not eradicating global warming or curing terrible diseases, but hopefully we add something to the world – a little bit of colour maybe, something for people to enjoy and to talk and think about. And you know what? It really means a lot when somebody tells us they’ve enjoyed something we’ve written, or been moved by it in some way. So the high point of my day in (The) Wirral wasn’t being long listed (though, that IS brilliant, and I feel honoured to be one of the few selected), it was when another Dan came to talk to me about how much he’d loved reading My Friend The Enemy. It was fantastic to see Dan so animated and excited when he was talking about the story and the parts of it he’d enjoyed the most.

But that’s not all. You see, Dan’s teacher told me she’d always had trouble getting him to read anything. Something in my story, though, had grabbed him and really captured his imagination. Dan is now excited about reading my next book My Brother’s Secret, and I’m hoping he enjoys that too, then goes on to read more and more.

So, no, books and stories don’t save the world . . . they just make it a better place.


That’s all.


Bebington High at Wirral Paperback of The Year

St Anselm’s at Wirral Paperback of The Year




It’s ALL Good!

My Brothers Secret Stg 2cWell, MY BROTHER’S SECRET isn’t due out until May, but there have been one or two review copies circulating since the Chicken House Big Breakfast in London a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve had some great responses so far, but this one has just worked its way to the top of my Favourite Pile.

Nadia, who is in year 6, has just finished reading it and this is what she had to say:

“It’s really gripping. It’s literally unputdownable. My Dad was like ‘Go to SLEEP’ but I just couldn’t.

Everything about it is brilliant. My favourite character is Stefan, Karl’s brother. Cos he is really brave and he sticks up for Karl. It’s such a good plot. It’s intense and you can’t wait to find out what happens next. I like the ending too. It’s ALL good.”

Thanks, Nadia, it’s always such a pleasure to read reviews of my books for younger readers when they actually come from younger readers – you are, after all, the ones who count.

MFTE-500x754Oh, and in other news, I found out last week that MY FRIEND THE ENEMY has been longlisted for the Branford Boase Award, which is fantastic. Of course, my agent brought me down to earth with ‘well, it’s only a longlisting, Dan,’ but, you know what? It’s a longlisting!

Oh, and there might be some more happy news soon . . .


That’s all.

Untold Riches!

Whoa! Time seems to be slipping past at quite a speed these past few weeks. I keep meaning to get on here and write something insightful and thought-provoking but, then, why start now, eh?

Well, I could tell you how things are going with My Brother’s Secret – y’know, talk about edits and how well the book is coming along under the expert guidance of the fab people at Chicken House. Or, I could say something about how a title change is in order for my next book for adults, and how the great team at Orion is busy preparing cover images and getting things ready for publication in the spring.

Or maybe I’ll just show you this . . .

Old Bank Junior School Letters

A giant pile of letters I received from the fantastic children at Old Bank Junior School.



Despite what some people might think, publishing a novel does not bring untold riches.

Nor, apparently, does publishing five novels.


Being an author is not a financially rewarding occupation and there are times when I (like many authors, I expect) can’t help wondering if I should be doing something else. But when I receive a pile of letters like this, it’s great to know that I might have inspired or entertained someone in some small way.

Or, at least, helped them avoid a maths lesson.


Here are a few snippets from those letters.








That’s all.