The publishers of my books for children generally ask me to write about subjects which they have already decided need covering.

I tend to write novels for adults about whatever subjects take my own fancy.

I was delighted to be asked by David Fickling Books of Oxford to write for First Names, a new series of biographies for 8 to 12 year olds. Emmeline, the illustrated life story of Mrs Pankhurst the Suffragette, was published in the UK in August 2018, a century after British women started to secure the right to vote.

I have now written a second book for the series,  Albert (Einstein), which is in production and due to be published on 6 May 2021. Any updates on either title can be found on the blog.

I learned an enormous amount in researching this particular book; my admiration for the man could hardly be greater. He said and wrote so many memorable things, but one of my favourites is:  “Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control… Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”

See if you can spot a link between that idea and a plot device in the novel I mention directly below!…

Propolis Books published my counterfactual novel for adults The Ballad of Syd & Morgan in October 2018, exactly 50 years after the encounter it purports to describe, viz: at the prompting of Pan the goat-god, Syd Barrett, the 22-year-old ex-leader of Pink Floyd, bursts into the Cambridge University rooms of legendary novelist E M Forster, 89, on a matter of surpassing urgency – and in so doing he tilts the course of history.

This was the first time I’d worked with a small independent operation, as opposed to large international houses like Little, Brown, and the experience was extremely positive, even at times genuinely uplifting. Accounts of some of the accompanying publicity events plus reviews can be found on the blog.


I would also like to flag up a highly unusual history book by my partner, Decca Warrington. The Eleanor Crosses (The Story of Edward I’s Lost Queen and her Architectural Legacy) was published by Signal Books of Oxford in June 2018.

For years Decca kept telling me I should use in my adult fiction some fabulous medieval material which had been brought to her attention by an evening-class tutor. I kept saying yes, yes, one day – until finally, even though she’d never previously written for publication, she went ahead and wrote it up herself in this short, idiosyncratic volume. It has been very well received, with a fine review in the Times Literary Supplement. I’m in awe of what she has achieved and heartily recommend the book to historians and non-historians alike.

This new title of mine appeared in August 2020. A historical novel for younger readers The Girl Who Said No To The Nazis is my first book for Pushkin Children’s, in their new True Adventures series. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work on the story of the incredibly brave Sophie Scholl. 


This is arguably my strangest novel for adults (so far). Published in May 2021 by Propolis Books, it’s not exactly straightforward to explain what The Actual Whole of Music is ‘about’ – as can be deduced from this interview. But the poet and translator Kevin Crossley-Holland kindly said of it: “The very nature of this seductive novel is memory, dream, drift, recorded with diamond precision. The author’s achievement is to speak out of the mouths of individuals while at the same time be speaking for an entire generation.”