All posts by tompalmer

London schools competition to launch my Roman Britain thriller “Dark Arena”

Win one of my historical fiction author visits to your London school by answering the following question:

What Roman building – which features in my new book Defenders: Dark Arena – is hidden underneath the Guildhall in London?

Dark Arena children's book set in London

Email with your answer by 30 November 2017. Draw to take place on 1 December and winners will be announced by Twitter.  10 x runner up schools to receive 100 signed bookmarks.

Date of visit to be arranged according to joint availability.

My Defenders series are spine-tingling, spooky football adventures – the past is closer than Nadiya and Seth think. Published by Barrington Stoke.

Read the first chapter of Dark Arena here.

More on my Defenders series here.

More about my historical fiction author visits here.

A Christmas Offer

Last autumn I asked teachers, librarians and other adults to nominate children they thought would benefit from the gift of a book for Christmas. I received over 100 nominations and sent out Christmas presents to over 50 children. This year I am doing the same.

I’d like to give books to children who do not have books at home. Or to children who need that one special book that could help engage them with a lifetime of reading for pleasure. Also, to children who have had a difficult year and a book could be a boost for them.  The books will be personally dedicated, signed, gift-wrapped and will come with a Christmas card.

Books by Tom Palmer

Last year I found this a moving experience, hearing direct from their teachers of children who were very ill themselves or were coping with poorly parents and siblings. Some nominations were for children who had showed extraordinary courage that year or for refugees who had lost pretty much everything in their lives.  Others were children who had only just discovered an interest in reading at school and their teachers wanted to encourage them with a book to take home.

If you’d like to nominate a child, please email the following information to by Thursday 30th November 2017:

  1. the child’s name (this will not be published and will be kept in full confidence)
  2. a short paragraph explaining why you are nominating that child
  3. your choice of book for them from one of my 35 books listed on this page on my website: . I have written books for children aged 5 to 15, covering history, spies, sport, detectives, ghosts and more.
  4. your name and school address (where I will send the book)

I am sorry, I cannot promise to send a book to every child nominated, but I intend to send a personal Christmas card to each nominee and a poster pack for each school.  My family and I will chose the recipients and have the books dispatched in the first week of December 2017.

With thanks to the artist James Innerdale, who will be designing the image that goes on the Christmas card.

Five library events coming up in the north west

Next week (on August 23rd and 24th) I will be hosting author talks in five public libraries across the north west of England.

Part of my summer #LoveLibraries tour.

I’ll  talk about reading and writing, then I’ll host a quiz and a penalty shoot out and…

… I’m also very excited that I’ll be able to introduce my new book, Dark Arena, which is set in a Roman Amphitheatre and a new-build 21st century football stadium.

I will bring my new shield. See below!

Tom Palmer

These are the dates.

Wednesday 23rd August, 10 a.m.
Widnes Library                
Contact number: 0151 907 8383

Wednesday 23rd August, 1 p.m.
Haydock Library, St Helens

Wednesday 23rd August, 4 p.m.
Penketh Library, Warrington

Tom Palmer author visit


Thursday 24th August, 11 a.m.                    

Eccles Library, Salford

Thursday 24th August, 2 p.m.     
Swinton Library, Salford


If one of those libraries is local to you, it’d be good to see you.

Three places that inspired my new book, Dark Arena

Dark Arena is a story about a boy and a girl who set themselves the task of working out why the building of a new football stadium in London is being dogged by problems and tragic accidents. 

I was reading about Spurs’ new stadium, which is being built in north London. Looking at the construction images made me think the building site looked just like an archaeological dig at an ancient Roman stadium. An amphitheatre.

That was when I had the thought: What if I could blend the two? What if I wrote a story about how the excavations for the foundations of a twenty-first century football stadium unearth a first- or second-century amphitheatre? Here, in London.

I needed to visit the Roman amphitheatre beneath the Guildhall in London. We can only view part of the amphitheatre now, as most of it is underground. But what we can see, the interpretation panels and the book about the site were really useful in helping me plan Dark Arena. What was it for? Who built it? How was it built?

I needed to know so much. I needed to understand better how Roman London worked. So, my next stop was the Museum of London, a fabulous place that traces the history of the city (and the UK) through artefacts found and reconstructions of how life would have been.

I found out that slaves were the most likely people to have done the hard work of building London’s amphitheatre. So that’s where Dark Arena begins. The ghosts of the slaves killed while building the ancient stadium haunt the building of the new stadium in London.

I hope the mix of modern spectator sports with the ancient works as a story that will appeal to children.

You can find out more about Dark Arena here.

Feel free to email me to ask questions, in particular about school workshops I am developing for schools about Roman Britain.


How to use the new football season to get your child reading

Tom Palmer writes books for children, many of them about football. These are his ten tips on how you can use the 2017-18 Premier League season kick off this week to encourage children to read more for pleasure.

Find out about Tom’s latest book – Killing Ground – here.

Buy one of this weekend’s newspapers. They will all have exciting pull-outs and supplements about the Premier League kick off.

Visit your local public library and see what football books they have. Check sport in the adult and kids’ sections. Ask a librarian to order you a book if you want one about a specific team or player.

Do one of the online Fantasy Football games. Start a league with friends and families. Stress that the best way to do well is to read about football online and in newspapers.

Go to a newsagent’s and browse the new season football magazines. Browse for as long as you dare. Then – if your child is hooked – maybe buy the magazine.

Check out the National Literacy Trust’s Sport and Literacy resources on their website. Including videos, download and book lists:

Borrow or buy one of the excellent short readable Ultimate Football Heroes biographies, featuring the likes of Pogba, Messi and Ronaldo.

Go online and read one of the many online football magazines, such as

If your children enjoy playing video football games FIFA and PES, direct them towards reading tips and advice about becoming better at the games at &

Go to a football match. Local lower league and non-league teams love the support and children often get in for free or very cheaply. Then buy a match programme. Get there early to give to time to read it together before the game.

Buy my new book, Dark Arena. Please. It features an in-construction London football stadium, a Roman amphitheatre, zombies and more. Read the first chapter and find out more here:

Tom Palmer writes football stories for children aged 6 to 16. You can see a full list of his books at:

Thank you for reading!


International Cat Day

It’s International Cat Day today, so maybe it’s about time I wrote about Gus.

This is Gus.

Whenever I settled down to write on the sofa in the attic, I soon heard his footsteps padding up the stairs, the little bell on his blue collar tinkling. He sat next to me in the summer. He sat on me in the winter.

Gus was my writing cat.

Gus died dreadfully in August last year. A grim night that ended with me and him visiting the 3 a.m. vets in Halifax. I’ll spare you the detail.

I can no longer write on the attic sofa. I write on my bed. Or in the kitchen.

I put Gus in my new book, Dark Arena. Here’s his short cameo role.

Now he’s in the book, I feel better. Here’s to Gus!

Happy International Cat Day!

Author Events in Libraries this Summer

This summer holiday I will be visiting libraries to talk about my new children’s series, Defenders. The books feature Saxons, Vikings, Romans, Iron Age people, ghosts and a touch of football.

You can meet me in sixteen libraries from York to Plymouth to talk reading, writing and football during July and August 2017 – and to help launch the fantastic library Summer Reading Challenge.

When I started as a professional author, ten years ago, two-thirds of my author appearances were in public libraries. Now library events are rare: perhaps 5% of what I do.

Libraries have suffered terribly in the age of austerity. And that means library users have lost out too. The sad truth is that public libraries can rarely afford to pay authors to come and speak in libraries.

But a happy truth is that libraries made me what I am. Without them I would be neither a writer or a reader. So, this summer I have committed to doing eight days in libraries. To give something back to the public library service that changed my life.

My publisher Barrington Stoke and Peters Books set up the tour.

These are the libraries I will be visiting and the dates and times I’ll be there. If you need more details please contact the library or see their website. You can also email if you need any clarification.

Everyone is welcome to come, except York which is a school event in the library. All the events are free of charge to the public, as far as I understand.

Friday 14th July, 10 a.m.
York Central Library
A launch for York’s Summer Reading Challenge.

Tuesday 189th July, 3.45 p.m.
Hoyland Library, Barnsley
Launching Barnsley’s Summer Reading Challenge with Barnsley FC.

Wednesday 26th July, 11.30 a.m.
Central Library, West Bromwich

Wednesday 26th July, 2 p.m.
Bloxwich Library, Walsall

Thursday 27th June, 11.30 a.m.
Wolverhampton Central Library

Thursday 27th July, 2 p.m.
Halesowen Library, Dudley

Friday 28th July, 12.30 p.m.          
Crewe Central Library

Friday 28th July, 2.30 p.m.            
Alsager Library

Saturday 29th July, 1 p.m.
Storyhouse with Chester Central Library

Wednesday 23rd August, 10 a.m.
Widnes Library                
Contact number: 0151 907 8383

Wednesday 23rd August, 1 p.m.
Haydock Library, St Helens

Wednesday 23rd August, 4 p.m.
Penketh Library, Warrington

Thursday 24th August, 11 a.m.                   
Eccles Library, Salford

Thursday 24th August, 2 p.m.     
Swinton Library, Salford

Wednesday 30th August, 11 a.m.
Four Greens Hub, Plymouth
Contact number: 01752 306237

Wednesday 30th August, 2 p.m.
St Budeaux Library, Plymouth
Contact number: 01752 975916

Anne Frank and Football

During July I will write a ‘live’ story that will bring together football and the story of Anne Frank.

The story is from the point of view of a thirteen-year-old girl called Lily, who is about to go on a school trip to Holland. To visit Anne Frank’s House and to watch England play Scotland in the opening game of the EURO 2017 Women’s football tournament.

To research the story, I visited the Anne Frank House with my wife and daughter (age 13, usefully). I will be writing the last two chapters live from Utrecht as England kick off against Scotland.

I started this story wanting to write an exciting thriller about a group of children going on a school trip to Holland to watch football. But I am planning that there will be a lot more to it after my visit to the Anne Frank House.

The story will be about diary writing, football and Anne Frank. It will also link into the Football Association’s four values. It will feature the events of the next three weeks on and off the pitch. That’s the live element: I will write it the day before publication so that it is as live as I can make it.

Dutch Diaries will be made up of nine chapters. Each chapter will take ten minutes to read aloud. It is aimed at school years 4 to 8, roughly. In addition, there will be at least one episode where readers will be able vote on what happens next. It will be free to download three mornings a week from 3rd to July 20th.

Thanks to the National Literacy Trust and the Football Association for commissioning Dutch Diaries, as well as the accompanying writing exercises, blog and toolkit of in-school reading and writing activities, known as Literacy with the Lionesses.

You can read the first chapter of Dutch Diaries here.

Please pass this blog on to anyone who you think will be interested in promoting reading for pleasure, supporting women’s football and continuing conversations about understanding world events from the past and the present.

Thank you for reading.

Five things you can do to get behind the Lionesses

England Women, Scotland Women and fourteen other countries will play out EURO 2017 this month and next. It is a fantastic showcase for the women’s game as it makes giant strides from the grassroots to elite football.

There are five things you can do to help add to that momentum.

One. Watch tonight’s Denmark v England match and persuade your sons and daughters to watch it too. It’s England’s last warm up game before EURO 2017 kicks off and should give everyone a taste of what’s to come. Thanks to Channel Four for showing the game on their website.

Two. Read about EURO 2017 on the BBC website and She Kicks magazine. Hopefully there will be lots of coverage in the mainstream press too.

Three. Read chapter one of my free live EURO 2017 story, Dutch Diaries, published by the National Literacy Trust and the FA. And, if you like it, read all nine chapters to your family or school assembly as the tournament develops.

Four. Collect the Panini EURO 2017 sticker collection.  Available in WHSmith and other newsagents. (Although you may see this as a colossal waste of money,  it is good news that the women’s game now has sticker albums you can find in the shops.)

Five. Check out the National Literacy Trust’s spectacular range of literacy resources to use in the lead up and during EURO 2017. Great for schools, home and libraries.

EURO 2017 kicks off on 16th July. The final is on 6th August. This is the official website.