I am a father, husband, author, football fan and a reader. In fact, it was reading about football that changed my life.
I wasn’t keen on reading when I was young. My mum was worried about me because I was struggling 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.
Read my fuller biography page here.
A quick introduction to me and my books. Download here.
More literacy resources here.
Email me with any questions here.
Meet me at one of my events.
Watch my advert free YouTube films about how I write and about my books here.
Read a recent interview with me by pupils from Tettenhall College published in their school newspaper.
Frequently Asked Questions
I get asked a lot of questions. These are the most popular ones:
Do you come into schools?
I do. I love it. I can bring an inflatable goal or rugby posts and host my Football Reading Game or Rugby Reading Game complete with penalty shoot outs. I also offer a Historical Fiction option for my author visits. Ask your teacher or school librarian if she or he would like me to come in. And at the moment I am doing virtual visits – either live or pre-recorded and they are going really well! More here .
How many books have you written?
54 in total. About spies, detectives, ghosts, war, pilots, rugby, friendship, parents and football.
How long does it take to write a book?
Shorter books like Football Academy take a month. But the Foul Play ones are more complicated and three times as long: they take four or five months. History books like Over the Line took over a year to research and write.
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 it was important to get that right.
Do you get help writing the books?
Yes. Lots. My wife and my friends help. My daughter. Then I try to find experts about what I am writing about so that I can make sure I get my facts right. People are very generous with their time.
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.
Where do you get your Foul Play writing 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.
Why do you support Leeds?
I was born there. And being a Leeds fan is a special destiny.
Born: Yorkshire Day, 1st August, 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 football magazine: World Soccer
Favourite football book: Keeper by Mal Peet
Food: Fair Trade chocolate
Drink: Yorkshire tea
Schools bumper book pack and class set offers here.