The Lost King
Ever since Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field, people have argued over the question of whether he really was the villain that Shakespeare depicted.
Last spring, when the skeleton found under a Leicester car park was confirmed as Richard's, the debate grew more urgent. Did the king really murder his own nephews, the princes in the Tower? I was asked to write an imagined bird's eye view of Richard, and started researching.
Strange facts came to light, and so did a dark secret that had bound Richard and his family throughout their turbulent lives. I'm delighted with the jacket, and look forward to hearing what readers think about this tragic and probably much misunderstood king. Through the eyes of Lisa, who started looking after the little princes when she was only twelve, we see amazing and often terrible events unfold.
Publication date April 26th 2014.
It is 1647, when England is divided between loyalty to King Charles and belief in a Parliament free of royal control. Hannah, the daughter of a devout Puritan, never meant to fall in love with a Royalist soldier, but Matthew means the world to her. A terribly hard time lies ahead ....
Tudor Stories for Girls
The stories of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, told by imagined keepers of diaries who were there at the time, now collected into one chunky volume. Packed with the glamour and danger of daily life in the court of Henry Vlll.
My Tudor Queen
( Scholastic, 0-439-99940-5)
This is a diary written by
an invented girl called Eva de Pueblo. She came from Spain as the friend
of 16-year-old Catherine of Aragon, who
is of course very real, as are all the events that Eva gets involved
in. Catherine married Arthur, the Crown Prince of England, but he was
a sickly young man who died six months later. And in any case, Catherine’s
true love was Arthur’s younger brother, Henry, who became Henry
VIII. Eva, watching what happens, is both touched and appalled.
Anne Bolyeyn and Me
( Scholastic, 0439-97867-X)
In the same format as My Tudor Queen, the diary writer here is Elinor, daughter of Eva, who in the previous book recorded her life with Catherine of Aragon. Elinor reluctantly finds herself serving Anne Boleyn, with whom Henry VIII has fallen in love although he is still married to Catherine. Her diary records the dramatic years that culminate in Anne's short-lived triumph as Queen of England. She watches with dismay as disaster looms, and sees the terrible end to the story as Anne is beheaded on Tower Green.
No Ordinary Love Song
Cal hates what humans are doing to the planet, and he doesn't much like his dad either. Playing his guitar makes him feel better, but school is a total waste of time in his view. Then, on the ferry to the island where he lives, he sees Kerry, an Australian girl who is so fabulous that she changes his entire life. Something rather similar is happening to Cal's mother, though she doesn't let on, and things get very strange for a bit. Unexpectedly, they also turn out to be rather wonderful - and there's a lot more to Cal's dad than first meets the eye. No Ordinary Love Song will make you laugh, but there are some big ideas in it as well - and lots of music.
My cat, Henry, was largely responsible for this book. It had started out to be a history of the teenager, but I feared it might be boring. Better, perhaps, to have a very fed-up girl recklessly get mashed up in a road accident and then, being almost detached from the real world, go on a guided tour of the past. Henry, black and glossy and beautiful, became Jacoby, the cat-guide. With weird irony, Henry was killed on the road a day or two before Jacoby’s Game was published. But the book lives on – and yes, I have a new kitten
This book is currently my favourite. I wrote it because I know children can do wonderful things, far more exciting than most people suspect. It's about a writer who is stuck for ideas and gets rescued by some children who are in the first place just curious about what he's up to. They start supplying him with ideas, and the story they write becomes gripping and terrifying. It also has something to say about their own lives, and by the end, nobody is quite what they were when it all started.
Real children helped to write this book. They were from the school where How's Business had been co-authored 16 years ago, and we had a brilliant time together.
Oranges and Murder
(Oxford University Press, 0-19-271825-8)
For teenagers, this is a thriller set in the London of 1836, full of the reek of stewing eels, filthy drains, coffee stalls and oranges. Joey, a costermonger boy who knows there is something strange about his background, finds himself suspected of murder. Packed with atmosphere and suspense, this book won the Scottish Arts Council’s Children’s Book of the Year Award, 2002, and was short-listed for the Angus Book Award.
Three Blind Eyes
This book has the same historic setting as Oranges and Murder, but at the heart of its story is Lucy, whose warm, safe life crumbles when her widowed father gets into debt. Seeking to help him, she is soon guiding a very sinister blind man round the streets and alleys that huddle along the Thames. And that’s not the end of it. Lucy’s father is arrested for the death of a tenant, so she joins a frightening gang of people in order to find out the truth. Before she’s finished, Lucy will have to be braver than she ever thought possible.
Tower Block Pony
Have you ever tried to get a horse into a lift? And have you ever wondered what it might do while it's in there? Dermot, Maeve and Winnie know all about this. Dermot thinks his sister and her friend are mad even to think of it, but then, pony-mad girls might do absolutely anything. And Dad is not going to be pleased. Here's a book that's easy to read and full of laughs.
Flashbacks, A & C Black
In 1944, World War 2 is not yet over, though there have been no air raids for quite a while. But one night Katie wakes to hear a strange noise in the sky, like a loud motor bike, coming closer and closer until there is sudden silence – then a huge explosion. The first unmanned missiles have been invented, and though they bring death and destruction, people cheerfully call them Doodlebugs. I wrote this one from childhood memory.
You can also get Doodlebug Summer as an audio book, read by Gillian Walton.
A& C Black
Here’s another one that comes from my own early memories, this time about the strange weeks in 1939 when the war began. Miriam can’t understand why her mum keeps buying more food stores than they need, or why people are scared that an enemy will invade. And why do they have to leave the house and go to stay with Gran in the country? It’s not easy to understand, but at last, the truth comes out.
Fran, who lives on a Scottish island, is thrilled to hear that Del is coming from Glasgow for a holiday under a scheme to give a break to disadvantaged children. It’ll be so great to have a real friend, to share everything – or so she thinks. But the bedraggled girl who staggers off the ferry on a wild afternoon is not what anyone expected. For teenagers or younger, as are the next three books.
bird was staring in. Not just looking, but staring. Con, in the
great, dusty sitting room of the house his parents are about to buy,
is unnerved. But it’s nothing to what’s waiting for him.
This thriller, set in East Anglia, is partly supernatural and partly
all too terrifyingly real.
Mick Finn is 14, and as he says, is quite good at crossing roads - but his mother is suddenly full of worry that he’ll be knocked down by a bus. A fortune teller has told her he will die. As other predictions start to come true, Mick grapples with the idea that his life may suddenly end, and decides he can’t bear the suspense. If it’s going to happen, he’d rather it happened now. He decides to do something so dangerous that it gives fate a chance to kill him.
How’s Business (reprint)
This is a special book to me. It was written in 1986, during two terms of work with the children of a small primary school in Lincolnshire, who shared in all the work of writing it. Due to a suggestion from one of them, it’s set in the Second World War. The children researched it meticulously, helped by the old people of the village, and I threw in my own childhood experience as an evacuee. The book was a runner-up for the Smarties Prize, and was filmed by the Children’s Film Foundation, which in turn was the subject of a BBC documentary. Teachers find it extremely useful because of its authentic WW2 background.
This story of Kelly, a Glasgow girl who wants to rob the rich and feed the poor as Robin Hood did, won the Guardian Children’s Book Award and is still extremely popular. Just for fun, I put in a rather satirical description of myself as the visiting author who talks about making a story out of your own experience, and starts off more than she could ever have imagined. About 8-upwards.
On the Money
Scottish Book Trust
This little book of four stories includes one by me, called Funny Money. Shannon’s Mum and Dad hit hard times and realise how easy it has been to run up debts on a credit card. While they try to sort it all out, Shannon goes to stay with her Gran, who has very different ideas – and they have a great time on hardly any money at all.
These four books for younger ones are seen from the viewpoint of the animals who belong to rather odd owners, like music-mad Ernie and Mrs Piffey the hairdresser, who goes off to Turkey. And of course there is Rosie, who thinks all furry creatures are sweet, and at the last count has a cat, a dog, a hamster and 27 rabbits. The animals do their best to make sense of this batty lot, and the results should keep you laughing. Very funny drawings by Doffy Weir and Kate Sheppard.
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