I’m an award-winning author of over 50 books for children and young adults, including the bestselling YA series Angel. I’m also an experienced writing teacher and mentor, passionate about nurturing new talent. My work’s been translated into over 10 different languages.
Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, the UK’s been my home since 1995. Along with my husband and cat, I live in a rambling Victorian house in the Scottish Borders where I spend entire days in my pyjamas, writing and drinking coffee.
About writer's work
My work spans all age groups of children’s fiction, from picture books up through young adult and crossover. My main intent is always to tell the best, most involving story I can.
I often find myself exploring themes of identity: who are we behind the mask? Can you ever truly know someone else – or even yourself? The chance thought, “What if angels weren’t really what they seem?” led to my YA trilogy Angel – which as well as being an action-fuelled romance, grapples with questions of what makes us who we are.
My latest YA series, the Broken trilogy, was inspired by my love of old films and Spitfires. Broken Sky is “set in a daring and distorted echo of 1940s America”. Loosely paralleling WWII, the series was both a challenge and a joy, older and darker than my previous titles. It’s ultimately about growing up, about forgiving and moving on.
My work for older readers tends to be structurally complex; I love weaving together multiple story threads and playing with different timelines and points of view. I’m fascinated by stories of ordinary people caught up in big, epic events. In my younger work, magic in the real world often makes an appearance. What if there’s a school for fairies hidden in that old oak tree? Or if that trio of tiny ceramic cats could come to life?
I’ve been writing professionally since 2002, and I’m always learning, always striving to improve. I believe that so much of storytelling happens in the spaces between the words – and that good writing is more about what a writer doesn’t say than what she does.
Sheffield Children’s Book Award 2003 (Child X)
Stockport Children’s Book Award 2007 (Kat Got Your Tongue)
Leeds Book Award 2011 (Angel)
Leeds Book Award 2017 (Broken Sky)
Websites featuring the authorTwitterFacebookAuthor's WebsiteUsborneAgent
Current events and projects
I’m an experienced speaker, teacher and performer, equally comfortable working with children or adults.
I’m happy to consider any sort of writing-related event. I do frequent school visits, festival appearances, panels, etc, where I commonly talk about my work, its themes and the writing life. I also run workshop courses and residential courses where I teach writing skills, give one to one feedback on manuscripts, and generally seek to support and encourage new talent.
I love working with keen readers and writers, but equally enjoy working with young reluctant readers. I’ve had great success in approaching them via verbal storytelling and story-crafting.
Some events I’ve done this past year include:
Performed at Wee Write in Glasgow to a group of 200+ secondary school children
Taught a residential writing course in Devon
Took part in a Waterstones Islington panel with Samantha Shannon and Alwyn Hamilton
Took part in a Waterstones Piccadilly panel with Philip Reeve
Did a series of secondary school visits in Edinburgh, to audiences of about 50+ each
Took part in a panel at MCM Comic Con in London.
I’ve run writing workshops and residential courses for both children and adults since 2002, including for Arvon, SCBWI and Cornerstones Literary Consultancy.
With Helen Corner, I’m the co-author of Teach Yourself How to Write a Blockbuster and Get it Published (Hodder, 2006).