I wasn’t keen on reading when I was young. My mum was worried about me because I didn’t do very well at school. She encouraged me to read about football in newspapers, magazines and books. Gradually I came to love books.
And, from that point, my life changed. I wanted to know everything about books. I went to night school to do A levels when I was 21. Then I did a degree in European Literature when I was 24. It was brilliant!
After I had graduated, I went to work in a bookshop, then a library, then I managed book festivals. All that time I was writing: stories, poems, diaries and books for adults. Then – after a few years – I was lucky enough to have one of my football books for children accepted by Puffin.
Watch a video Q & A I did recently with Hamstel Junior School….
Read a recent interview with me by pupils from Tettenhall College published in their school newspaper.
Find out more about me by visiting my blog.
Meet me at one of my events.
Email me with any questions here .
Born: Yorkshire Day, 1st August 1967, Leeds
Team: Leeds United
Favourite stadium visited: Elland Road, Leeds (but also Bernabeu, Spain and Hearts of Oak, Ghana)
Favourite footballer : Lucas Radebe, Leeds
Favourite rugby player : Danny Care, England
Favourite football magazine: World Soccer
Favourite football book: Keeper by Mal Peet
Food: Fair Trade chocolate
Country: New Zealand
Drink: Yorkshire tea
Frequently Asked Questions
I get asked a lot of questions. These are the most popular ones:
Why do you support Leeds?
I was born there. And being a Leeds fan is a special destiny.
Where do you get your ideas from?
Newspapers. Football is full of crime. I read about it the newspapers. When a story grips me I know it’s one I can use in a book.
How many books have you written?
37 in total. About spies, detectives, ghosts, war, airmen, rugby, friendship, parents and football.
How long does it take to write a book?
What research do you do for your books?
If I write about a place I need to have been there. I went to Ghana to research Off Side, the third Foul Play book. Part of it is based in Africa, so I though it was important.
Do you get help writing the books?
I do. First off my wife, then three other writers in my writing group, then my agent, then my editors. They all make great contributions. The books are a lot better because I try to listen to what people say about them. I hope.
Do you know any other writers?
A few. I sometimes work with Helena Pielichaty who writes the Girls FC books. I used to work for bookshops and libraries, so I met a few then. But most of my friends aren’t writers.
What other jobs have you had?
Librarian. Bookseller. Milkman. Post office bag sorter. VDU operator. University lecturer. I liked them all, except the last two.
Do you come into schools?
I do. I love it. I host a quiz called the Football Reading Game with a penalty shoot out. Ask your teacher if she or he would like me to come in.
Email me with any of your questions here.