This is the WASTED BLOG. For my main author website, click this link.

Awards: WASTED won the Read it or Else category in the Coventry Award and was runner-up in the North East Book Award. It is longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the Manchester, Grampian, Angus, and RED Awards.

Thursday, 30 December 2010


Back on October 4th, I asked you to vote for Wasted in the Coventry Awards. It's a scary knockout X-factor-style voting system and the deadline for the first knockout is earlyish January sometime - I can't remember when - so I should be asking you to vote for me again. Otherwise I'll be the first to be knocked out.

But I'm not asking you to vote for me. I would feel really uncomfortable if I did. You should vote for Wasted if you think Wasted is the best book on the list. And unless you've read the others, you can't really know, unless you think Wasted is so good that none of the others could compare. Which is a bit unlikely. I haven't read most of the other books so I don't know either.

Don't get me wrong: I love that librarians create awards and generate enthusiasm for books and I know that schools and young readers in Coventry will really benefit. (I wish I'd been able to come and do a talk.) And gosh, I'm HUGELY grateful and proud to have been short-listed. But I am just pleased to be shortlisted, so let's leave it at that. Really, if I'm voted off at the first hurdle because I couldn't face asking you and all my friends and family to vote, that's fine.

So, don't vote for me. Unless you feel that Wasted really is the best book on the list. If so, go here. If not, not a problem. Seriously.

And to all the lovely readers in Coventry, have fun with all the fabulous books on the various shortlists! Thank you, Coventry librarians, for all your work, and to the readers who've commented to me already. It made me happy!

Monday, 20 December 2010


Here's a link to a really lovely newspaper article about an event I did in Manchester at St Paul's Catholic Secondary School. I had a lovely time and, as I said in the article, they were GREAT questions.

One boy asked if there was rivalry and jealousy amongst authors! No, of course not... Actually, as I said to him, there seems to be very little amongst children's authors. We all get on pretty well, some better than others, of course, but some of my best friends are technically my "rivals" and I don't feel we really do jealousy.

With thanks to the Catholic Herald for permission to use this photo, which appears in that article.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


I was interviewed by pupils at Dundee High School recently and the interview has been written up in their school creative writing magazine, The Kwyll. They've kindly given me permission to reproduce it below. I had a great day and was looked after beautifully. In fact, I blogged about it HERE.

Who or what first inspired you to become a writer?
I think it was a way I could express myself. I was a shy child and HATED actually performing, but writing was a way of “performing” without having to act or blush or forget my lines. I always loved making people laugh or cry with words. I’m probably a little power-crazy and language is THE power!

How did you feel when you had your first novel published?
Thing is, it happened so slowly that in the end it didn’t feel as special as I’d expected. First a couple of agents were a bit interested and then more interested; then it took a while before I signed the contract with my agent, then a while longer before the agent actually sold the book to a publisher, and then over a year more before it was actually published. So, by the time I saw my book on shelves I’d pretty much got used to the idea. But I LOVED the moment when I first saw and touched the real book. Mind you, I feel that exact same pleasure when I see and touch the first copy of each of my books. I stroke it and carry it around for a few days!

Who are your own favourite authors?
That question is very similar to “What are your favourite foods?” It just depends what I feel like at the time. I have lots of favourite authors. Here are a few: Kate Atkinson, Bernice Rubens, David Almond, Kevin Brooks, Ian Banks, Joanne Harris and Robert Cormier. They are all very different. Ask me on another day, and I’d probably have some different ideas.

Did you have a favourite book or books when growing up?
Different books at different ages. I was a pony-mad girl, so anything with ponies, even if it was really badly written! ‘The Little White Horse’ was a huge favourite for ages. Another that I loved and read over and over was ‘The Black Tulip’ by Alexander Dumas and I loved the Willard Price books. I needed books all the time, and lots of them were “easy” ones, like Enid Blyton, and others were “harder”, like Thomas Hardy and Graham Greene. I didn’t really mind, as long as I had a good story in my hands. I liked to be ill, so I could read all day in bed!

How does it feel to have your novels studied in schools?
I have slightly mixed feelings! First, I’m really, really proud when teachers choose my books, because it means that they think they’re good and they think you will like them, too. But I also wince a bit because I know that some of you will end up hating the book. Thing is, I believe we should read for pleasure, and my books are written for you to enjoy more than anything else. But I also believe that studying books in class is really important – especially for those of you who want to be writers, but also for anyone, to get the greatest possible understanding of how stories work. Stories and literature are so important to us as humans – recent research shows that reading novels develops our emotional intelligence, tolerance and wisdom, and I have to be proud if I’m even a tiny part of that.

What is your new novel ‘Wasted’ about?
Chance, luck, fate, risk, danger, obsession, passion, alcohol, quantum physics, Oedipus, imperfect parents, bereavement, grief, love, hate, mistakes, and why leaving the house ten seconds earlier could change your life.

Can you tell us about what you’re working on just now?
It’s top secret! Even I don’t know! I’m working on several things but I’m waiting to hear from my agent which one I should go with. It’s an exciting time in my career just now and I’m writing some adult non-fiction about how to write, so that’s a new direction, too. Watch this space!

How would you encourage pupils at the High School to read more books?
It depends on the pupil. There are millions of books out there and I believe there are books which will inspire everyone, if you can only find the ones that suit you. So, this is what I’d say:
1. It doesn’t matter whether you think you’re a “good” reader; or whether you read slowly or fast – it’s not a race.

2. Although reading IS very good for us, don’t think about that: just aim to find books you enjoy. When you’ve enjoyed some, then try something different. Reading is a journey and it will take you to places you’ve never imagined.

3. The only people who say reading is stupid or boring are people who don’t understand, or who haven’t managed to find the book for them, or who are afraid of it. Reading is everything you want it to be, because books are everything you want them to be – funny, scary, exciting, weird or simple, deep or light, gory, shocking, relaxing – anything at all.
What top tips would you give to teenagers who want to get into writing?

1. Read hungrily.
2. Practise – it takes years, just like trying to be a professional musician, dancer or footballer. So, do it! You don’t have to show it to anyone until you want to.
3. Start small – don’t think about writing a novel until you are desperate to. Don’t worry about the length of what you’re writing. Just make it as long as feels right.
4. Do it because you enjoy it. Writing is for pleasure, even if it’s hard, and because it’s hard you have to get pleasure from the result. So, enjoy it!

Thanks, everyone! I loved your creative writing magazine - I was reading a copy in your reception area while waiting to come and see you. Excellent stuff!

Thursday, 9 December 2010


Some great reads on this list and I'm really delighted to see Wasted as one of the few teenage ones on it.

Thank you Derbyshire librarians!

Actually, I do keep seeing Wasted in all sorts of unexpected places, which is very happifying. And I've had lovely emails from teenage readers. I always reply to emails so if you want to contact me, do: is the address.

Saturday, 4 December 2010


I've just had my first ever Twitter interview with a school - and it was a first for them, too. Cramlington Learning Village in the North East of England set it up and for a hectic 40 minutes on Thursday we batted questions back and forth. Such fun! And I didn't even have to leave my house, which is an advantage when outside it looks like this.

Anyway, I thought I'd try to transcribe the gist of the conversation here.
Me (A couple of minutes before we started): I keep thinking this is a radio interview - keep clearing my throat!
Them: Cramlington Learning Village says Hello to @nicolamorgan

Me: yikes, a twitter interview is a strange feeling. Hello Cramlington Learning Village!

Kirsty & Sophie: What's your best thinking and writing place? 

Me: thinking: outside, walking with dog & no ppl! Writing: desk, home, no ppl... 

Chris: what sort of dog do you have and what's it called?

Me: Hi Chris - yellow lab, called Amber. Eats snow & is completely mad! 

Jaz: Have you ever put her in a book?

Me: Yes! She appeared in Mondays are Red, my first one. She behaved well, for a change Also, btw, ...(continued)...there's a character called Jaz in Chicken Friend. Unfortunately, she's not very nice. (Sorry!)
Jaz: LOL
Kirsty: What was your favourite moment in writing Wasted?

Me: Kirsty - yikes, I'm not sure. Usually my favourite moment is writing the last line ;) but with Wasted I had some more...(continued) the beach scene & the spiked drink & Jess going to Jack's room first time, OH and Kerry puking on a gnome...

Chris: Will you be at the North East Book Award party in Jan?

Me: Chris - YES, I will def be at the #NETBA party! try to stop me! Will u all b there?
(Much screaming, apparently, in the library)

Timi: did u like our rap? (They'd sent me a rap they are going to perform at the award ceremony.)
Me: I was jst about to say, rap is AMAZING & I can't wait to hear it! 

Jazz: Are u musically trained? great description when Jess sings Jack's music

Me: am musical FAILURE. Useless! All from my imagination, I'm afraid...

Me: Jaz,  thanks re comment about the descrip of Jess singing Jack's music 1st time - lots of ppl like that bit!
 Me: Can u tell me what all your favourite scenes were?

Them: Jess going in Jack's bedroom, the spiked drink, Jack dying

Me: You are cruel! Poor Jack (and Jess!)

Kirsty and Danielle: What are u writing now? Or is it a secret?
Me: it's called Brutal Eyes, set in London; very gritty, tough, brutal, very shocking. Is that good or bad??
Chris (or Timi - I can't remember): shocking is good, not frightening!
(I also asked them if they'd all tossed a coin for the ending and if the pigeon scene gave them a fright, but their answers have vanished off Twitter. I'll ask them in January.)

Them: We all have to go to class now. See you in January!

Me: Thank you!! See you in January. Fab questions.
When they go back to school on Monday, they are going to play a coin-tossing game and one of them will win a book. With many thanks to Christine Athey for setting up the event. And I am really looking forward to the North East Teenage Book Award party. I was there once before, with Fleshmarket, and it was such good fun.

Friday, 3 December 2010


Beware: I'm angry.

Got my Oxfam gift catalogue recently. Bought a few things for some people I know who don't need anything bought for them and are delighted to have something bought on their behalf for people in places where they really do need things.

One of the more expensive things in the Oxfam catalogue is a library, which you can buy to help lift people in developing countries out of poverty. Because libraries are the mark of development, of self-esteem, of open minds, of growth, of strength and of humanity.

Which makes it all the more sickening, grotesque and ignorant that our politicians, in our so-called developed country, are closing libraries. They call it economic. It's not economic. We can afford libraries. We must afford libraries. No, this is not economic; it's political. It's stupid, too.

Only someone with a closed mind closes libraries. Or, perhaps, someone so ignorant, so arrogant, that he thinks that everyone can buy books. Or that "it's all on the internet, innit?"

No, it's not all on the internet. It's all in books. And minds. And without books, minds are empty.

So, Mr Cameron, Mr Vaizey, and all you other foolish, empty-minded, treacherous politicos: don't rob us of our libraries, because in doing so you show nothing but your own ignorance.


Please, everyone, don't let this happen. Blog and rant about libraries and cuts. Write to politicians. I did last night. And if you know people who have already blogged, please put links to them in the comments below. I'll then transfer them into this post.

Here are some to start you off:

Join Alan Gibbons' Campaign for the Book Facebook page
Notes From the Slush-Pile
KM Lockwood- an open letter
Philip Ardagh writing on FB