The Child

I was born in Sutton, Surrey, in the house in which my parents lived for fifty years. My deepeAlan as a childst wish back then (partly because my favourite TV programme was The Munsters) was to have a weird family. I've got two older brothers and a younger sister and we got on pretty well, but they weren't really weird – they didn't have fangs or green skin and they only had one head each! (I wrote about this later in my books about Creepe Hall.)

My two passions as a child were football (my hero was George Best, I even named my goldfish after him) and reading – especially the Narnia books by C S Lewis, Michael Hardcastle's football stories and Enid Blyton's Famous Five series. But my favourite books of all were a Mannchester United Football Year Book from 1969 signed "To Alan from George Best" and The King of the Castle by Meriol Trevor that I came across quite by chance looking along a library shelf one day. These books are still my most treasured possessions.

All of these books were a major inspiration to me and played an important part in my development as a writer. I don't believe you can be an author without being a reader; we write books because we enjoy reading them.

The Adult

Alan as an adultAfter leaving Trinity School in Croydon (the setting of my first book Hamlet Bananas and All That Jazz), I went to Keble College, Oxford, to study English. It was there that I met my wife Jinny. Then I lived in Paris for a couple of years working in a school of spontaneous expression, which was run by the shortest, fattest, most explosive couple the world has ever seen. I wonder sometimes what happened to them. Maybe they really did explode.

I've only really had two other jobs – I worked as a publicist for the charity Scope, and as a copywriter for the children's book publisher Walker Books. For many years I wrote blurbs for books, adverts, catalogues and so on (if you've got a Where's Wally? book, for example, then the words on the back are mine).

I now work for myself as a full-time author. I've got three children, Amy, Kit and Josie, otherwise known as my "guinea pigs" because I try out all my stories on them. Most of the time we live in the south east of England, but we also have a house in Picardie, northern France, where we go now and then to chill out.

The Author

My first books were about teenage life and came from my own experienceAlan as an authors and concerns – I was fourteen when I discovered the immense and liberating power of writing and it was a lifeline during my teenage years. More recently I've written to entertain my children.

I write lots of different styles of books and for a wide age-range – from teenage thrillers to picture books. I also write poetry for children and adults. I've written spooky books, science-fiction, school stories, funny stories, horror (but not much because it scares me!), thrillers, football… Writing different styles of story about all sorts of different subjects keeps me on my toes and helps to entertain me. That's the first rule of being a writer: you have to entertain yourself - otherwise how can you hope to entertain anyone else?

My work was featured in the BBC series English Express, which won a Children's Bafta Award (see a clip including an interview at, as did Bookaboo (Series 2) in which my picture book Burger Boy was broadcast. That episode also won a British Animation Award. I appeared too in two programmes in the award-winning Let's Write A Story series. I've been a National Reading Campaign Reading Champion and am a frequent visitor to schools, libraries and festivals around the UK and abroad where I give talks and readings and run writing workshops. I am a member of NAWE and The Society of Authors. 

In 2007 I won the Portsmouth Children's Picture Book Award for Burger Boy, which was later featured in an episode of CITV's Bookaboo, winning both a BAFTA and British Animation Award. I also won the Stockport Children's Book Award (Key Stage 1) for Football Fever. My books have also been shortlisted for the Red House Children's Book Award (Dear Tooth Fairy), the Kate Greenaway Medal (Always and Forever), and the Nottingham Children's Book Award (Gameboy). I've twice won the Kingston Borough/Waterstone's Poetry Prize. In 2008 I won The Royal Mail Award for Scottish Children's Books (Picture Book Category) for Billy Monster's Daymare, which also won the 2009 Portsmouth Children's Book Award.

Most of my books were written in a garden shed, but now I've moved and am writing in a cosy eyrie at the top of my new house near the sea!