No Man’s Land was born in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, and Trump’s rise in the US. As a former political adviser, I wanted to be back doing something to change the mess we were heading towards and found myself frustrated that I wasn’t in a position to do anything useful any more. But I’ve always been someone who truly believes words can and do change the world, and none more so than in children’s books, where we get to show readers who they might become, and how they might play a part in building a better tomorrow. So I’m hugely proud to have been shortlisted for the Little Rebels Award, which recognises ‘radical’ writing trying to do just that. I’m also honoured because it’s run by Housman’s Bookshop, where I spent swathes of time in my late teens and early twenties, fired with indignation at the right-wing government we were living under back then. A world that we’re sadly slipping back towards again today. But all the books shortlisted offer a strong viewpoint, and above all, hope that change is coming.
A former broadcast journalist and special adviser to the prime minister, since leaving politics I’ve written more than 80 books for children and adults, as well as speeches for politicians, and articles for newspapers and magazines like The Guardian, Red and The Amorist. I also lecture in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and hold a doctorate in young adult literature.
I’m a winner of the Fantastic Book Award and the Surrey Book Award, and have been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Booktrust Best Book award and Queen of Teen among others, and twice nominated for the Carnegie Medal, for Everybody Hurts, and for Joe All Alone, which is now a BAFTA-winning and Emmy-nominated BBC TV series. I've also worked with Sir Chris Hoy on the Flying Fergus series and ghost-written Angry Birds under another name.
I like London, New York, Essex, tea, cake, Marmite, mint imperials, prom dresses, pubs, that bit in the West Wing where Donna tells Josh she wouldn’t stop for a red light if he was in an accident, junk shops, crisps, Cornwall, St Custard’s, Portuguese custard tarts, political geeks, pin-up swimsuits, the Regency, high heels, horses, old songs, my Grandma’s fur coat, vinyl, liner notes, the smell of old books, the feel of a velveteen monkey, Guinness, quiffs, putting my hand in a bin of chicken feed, the 1950s, burlesque, automata, fiddles, flaneuring, gigs in fields on warm summer nights, Bath, the bath.