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.

Sunday, 31 October 2010


Would you like to buy signed copies of any of my books? For Christmas? For presents? For yourself? Your school? For November only, I'm selling signed copies, while stocks last. That's Christmas sorted for your book-loving friends and family, anyway!

These are the books I have available, with the cover price. Please see my website for details about content, but I've added some very brief extra guidance to help you choose. All the teenage ones are also considered as cross-over, enjoyed as much by adults.

NB: I can only accept UK money in payment, unless you are prepared to cover the rather annoying commission that banks charge to change the currency. I will post overseas, but need to charge a bit more for postage - ask for details.

So, here are the books I have available:

Teenage / cross-over
  • Fleshmarket - now described as a "classic", probably my best known book, used widely in schools as a set text; it's the shock and gore that teenagers like, and the evocative history that adults like - £5.99
  • Deathwatch - a sinister thriller with a sad twist - £6.99
  • Wasted - the new one that people are going about, currently on four award shortlists; I don't recommend for under 12s - £6.99
  • The Passionflower Massacre - if you liked Wasted, you'll like this - £5.99
  • Blame My Brain - non-fiction, explains teenage behaviour, written FOR teenagers but grabbed eagerly by their adults - £5.99
  • Sleepwalking - I only have a few copies of this but it is many people's favourite, especially for keen teenage readers and especially girls - £5.99

Slightly younger but also enjoyed by adults
  • Know Your Brain - non-fiction, shows how the brain works and how your brain in particular works - £5.99
  • The Highwayman's Footsteps - thrilling historical adventure set in 1761, based on Alfred Noyes poem, The Highwayman; suitable for 10+, including teenagers. It's quite long, so for the younger ages they'd need to be keen readers - £6.99
  • The Highwayman's Curse - sequel to the above, same two central characters but this time set in Scotland, and dealing with the aftermath and hatred of the Killing Times - £6.99

  • Chicken Friend - light-hearted and funny but with a serious core; the cover, รก la Jacqueline Wilson, makes it look girl-oriented - £4.99. 
UK Postage & packing: £1 for up to three books. £2.50 for more. Sorry I have to add a bit on, but this is not the full cost.

So, would you like some / one? Here's what to do:
  1. Email with details of your request - titles, who you'd like each signed to, name and address for delivery; how you'd like to pay. (Cheque or UK bank transfer. If Paypal, I need to add on the Paypal commission, of just over 5%.)
  2. I will email you back to confirm whether I have the books in stock and give you my address for payment, or bank details if you want to use paypal or bank transfer.
  3. If you're ordering four books or more, I'll need payment in advance, and I'll post them as soon as I receive your payment. For orders of fewer than four, I'm happy to post the books and you can pay when the books are on their way.
  4. Last orders November 30th.

And THANK YOU for every order! I am seriously grateful. Do let anyone know who might be interested.

Christmas, sorted!

Thursday, 21 October 2010


A quick post about a recent visit. I partly want to mention it because it was a model visit in terms of organisation by the librarian in charge - Ruth Kaye. A nice overnight stay for me, a decent fee - thank you! - and a lovely reason for the event: it was a special project involving an adult book group getting together with a teenage book group. Everyone knew why I was there and there felt like a real point to the trip. I know that funding for things like this is difficult and I'm just very grateful to everyone involved.

They all asked some great questions. I also mentioned some other authors whose books I admire - Gillian Philip and Keren David, were your ears burning?

Cheterfield Library, Intergenerational Book Group, Oct 8th
Here we all are. I'm the Woman in Black, third from the left. Ruth is to the far right, with blonde hair. 

I was amazed to discover that I was the author chosen to do this. I had assumed that it was an ongoing project with several authors, but it was a one-off and just with ONE author. It's the first time they've done it and they picked me when they could have picked a load of other people.I asked Ruth why they'd picked me and she said, "Because you're a cross-over author, and because your website said all the right things."

I think getting adults and teenagers together to read and talk about books is a wonderful idea. Which is why it's rather sad and frustrating to hear that when Ruth had asked all the adult book groups which one would like to do this project, the others weren't interested. Seems they thought teenage books were beneath them. I wonder if they've read any. The number of times I have told someone I'm a teenage author and they say, "Oh, what, like Jacqueline Wilson / the Harry Potter books." No, no, no. Open your eyes to what's out there, people. There's a world of teenage books and some of them will make you think more deeply and more interestingly than many adult ones.

Someone recently said to me, "I wish you'd written Wasted for adults." Thing is, I did, because I don't care how old you are. If you like Wasted, then I wrote it for you and I am blind to your age.

Thank you to the Chesterfield adult and teenage readers. It was lovely to meet you and I loved your questions and your enthusiasm. And the hat...

Sunday, 17 October 2010


This is nothing to do with Wasted but I have a conundrum for you, which illustrates just how weirdly my brain works.

Today, I bought a new pair of boots. (It happens.) And they had £20 off. Which was lovely, especially since I'd have bought them anyway.

Then, I went into Lakeland and bought three things for a total cost of £20. So, I decided that what I bought in Lakeland was, in effect, free.

But, the three things I bought were in a "buy 3 things and get the cheapest one free" offer. So, the cheapest was free.

Does that mean that the cheapest was free twice?

Or, was a proportion of a boot free, while two of the Lakeland items cost me and the third was free?

I know where the problem in this argument is, but I'd love to hear what you think!

Meanwhile, if you're of school age, don't forget to enter the new competition HERE; and if you're an oldy but know some keen reading/writing young readers, do send them over there. It's the perfect brainy task for a half-term break.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


To celebrate the fact that Wasted is on another happifying award shortlist - a secret just now ;-) - I am announcing a competition, open to all readers aged under 18 and living in the UK. Would you like the chance to see your writing published on this blog and to win a signed book?

The best entries will be published here and the best three will win a signed book. You may think hardly anyone reads this blog - actually, they do, because I can see the stats! Lots of people come over from Twitter as well, so your words could be read by hundreds of people.

So, what is the task? Simply tell us what you thought of Wasted. Like a review, but don't say what it's about - just your feelings and opinions. Anything you want to say about it. Try to capture the mood of the book and try to say the things you think are most important or interesting about it. You can be as creative as you like: it could be a diary or a poem or a conversation or just a brilliant piece of writing which gives your thoughts. I'm looking for something special, something that captures what I think Wasted is like, but also shows something of your personal response. You don't have to say everything you thought - choose the bits you feel like saying. Let your personality shine in your writing.

Here are the rules:
  1. Two age categories: 11-13 and 14-17. (On November 1st 2010.) Please put your age on your entry.
  2. Your piece should not be longer than 100 words. (I won't be picky about this, but try not to go over 80).
  3. Email your entry to me at and put REVIEW COMP in the subject line. Don't send the review as an attachment - put it in the email, please.
  4. I will reply to the email you send your review from so make sure it's an address you will be able to check. 
  5. Please include a name in your email. It can be a made-up name if you like. I will NOT publish any names until I have had your permission but I will ask that later. Do NOT send me your postal address at this stage.
  6. If you are one of the three winners, I will contact you and ask for an address. If you are under 16, you will need to check with an adult before you give me your address. It will be possible to give a school address instead. Again, we will work this out later.
  7. If you are one of the writers whose piece is chosen for publication on the blog, I will contact you and ask your permission and then I will ask what name you want to use.
  8. The DEADLINE for entries is NOV 1st.
  9. I will ask another adult to be the judge. His or her decision will be final.
  10. Each of the three prize-winners will be able to choose from any of my books and I will post it, signed, to any UK address.
Any questions? Add a comment below.

PLEASE tell all your friends. If you're an adult, please tell any young people or schools that you are in touch with. I hope for lots of entries and lots of interest!

Now, get writing... And enjoy it! I want you to have lots of fun and freedom with your thoughts on this.

Friday, 8 October 2010

SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT 2: Dundee High School

On Monday I visited Dundee High School to do some school events. So, a lovely train journey across the Forth Rail Bridge to Dundee, accompanied by my usual tomato and cream cheese on health seed bagel from the Bagel Factory in the station, and there I was on a gorgeous sunny day, ready for the first talk.

120 keen-faced S1/Year 7 pupils seemed stunned when I showed them my Thomas the Tank Engine books. I shocked them with Fleshmarket, which half of them will be studying as a set text next term - which happens a lot, and always makes me a) proud and b) nervous. And I prepared them for Deathwatch by establishing that about 75% of them hated insects, before moving onto Wasted.

We played Jack's Game - see pic on the right - with the prize of a signed copy of Wasted. My nervous moment was when I told them that I only wanted them to enter the competition if they REALLY wanted the chance to win a copy. (Imagine if only three of them had.) Luckily, they ALL did. So, we played Jack's Game and the lucky winner was ...a boy whose name I am just checking with the librarian and she's going to get back to me! Much cheering. In fact, much noise altogether. And much book-buying afterwards.

Then to the library, where the senior book group  - Chloe, Kirsty, Isabella, Rebecca and Ailsa - shared sandwiches, millionaire shortbread and opinions of Wasted. (Except that we seemed to keep coming round to the subject of Twilight. Why does that always happen??) I asked what they thought of the cover - of Wasted, NOT Twilight - and we all agreed that red was a great colour, despite the fact that my publishers didn't want it - ha! - and that one other good thing about it was that because the cover doesn't tell you much, it makes you want to read it to see what it's about.

They asked me about the title, and I told them it was because originally the book was going to be much more about alcohol and that, when it wasn't, I still wanted the title because it had a "sit up and take notice" factor, which they agreed with. Luckily. Bit late to change it now.

We also talked about how annoying it is that so many books are series now. (You hear that, publishers??)

Oh, and they asked me if I'd ever played Jack's Game for real. Yes, I have: I asked the coin whether I should write for teenagers or younger from now and the coin said younger. I have today decided that the coin is wrong. I will not let my life be ruled by a coin. So, as of today, I am going back to teenage writing and a book I started a few months ago before having my temporary change of plan. It's a very shocking book, and I was a bit worried about it being too shocking, but several people have convinced me that I should do it. Including my agent, so that's a good start. If you hang around on this blog, I might even tell you the title.

Then, back into the hall to talk to 120 S2/ Year 8s. If possible, they made EVEN more noise playing Jack's Game and the winner this time was a girl called Eve. Much cheering. And much book buying. By this time it was very hot in the hall so I told them I'd only sign their books if they fanned me while I was doing it. A good ploy. Two girls - Sasha and Eve - are having their names in another book I'm writing now. (I didn't promise that nothing nasty would happen to them, though...)

Lots of teachers came to talk to me afterwards. I say this because often teachers take no interest in an author event. I give credit to Catherine Owens, the librarian, who had done everything to make the event go well. She'd prepared pupils, staff and me. She had made sure I had everything I needed. AND she let me go and get some fresh air between the events. I am a person of simple tastes and I just need a bit of space to recover and get my brain in gear for the next talk. So, thank you to Catherine, all the staff and all the fabulous pupils from Forms 1 and 2 of Dundee High School.

Catherine told me the next day that she'd had a delighted email from a parent who said that her son had been so keen to buy Fleshmarket that he'd used money that he was supposed to buy a dance ticket with and that night he'd gone to bed early to read it - which was the first time he'd actually shown enthusiasm for a book. Hooray!

So, all in all, a happy day. Until I got home to find a workman hadn't come to the house, the dog-sitter had forgotten to come and feed and walk my dog at tea-time, and my husband had accidentally turned the fridge-freezer off.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT 1: Auchinleck Academy

As a writer for young people, I LOVE school libraries. And their librarians. And all the clever projects they have to help kids find books they'll really enjoy. So, I have decided I'm going to give space to some schools that I've come across who are doing great things for teenage reading - and who have some fans of Wasted! Today in my very first School Spotlight, I want to give a shout-out for Auchinleck Academy, in Ayrshire, SW Scotland.

I first came across them when I discovered a lovely review of Wasted by a girl called Rachel - hello, Rachel! - on their library blog, so I contacted the librarian to thank her. She passed the message to Rachel; Rachel was happy; and then several other S2 pupils decided to read Wasted to see what the fuss was about. I like that idea!

To encourage pupils to give their opinions of books, Janice McGill, the libarian, puts slips in each library book and pupils can comment. She then types the comments up on the blog and leaves the slips in the books for others to read. GREAT idea!

Anyway, I wanted to show you their library blog - here - and also tell you about their special fund-raising day TOMORROW (Thursday Oct 7th). They are holding a disco for school funds and a load of pink activities for breast cancer charities. It's the day before the school half-term so I'm guessing there will be a lot of excitement in school that day and not much work done!

Auchinleck pupils: hello, and have a great October holiday! Read lots of books and if you like Wasted, please VOTE in the Coventry awards. I need you badly! It's like the X-Factor - the book with the least votes gets voted off first. :-(

NOTE to other schools: do some of your pupils love Wasted? Would you like your school to feature on the Wasted blog? Perhaps you've been running a competition or challenge and you'd like me to announce the winners here? Got some fun pictures from your library events? Contact my assistant and I'll see if I can fit you in. All you have to do is say why you think I should feature you on the WASTED blog.

Monday, 4 October 2010

WASTED shortlisted for the COVENTRY BOOK AWARD

I am delighted to announce that Wasted has been shortlisted for its third award, the Coventry Award, in the category called Read It Or Else! What a lovely category!

The horribly scary thing is that this is done by public voting. And it's like the X-Factor because books get voted off if they have the least number of votes. PLEEEEEEEASE help me not be the first book voted off :((((((

Here's the link - do go there and make nice comments about any of the books you like. And if you choose Wasted, I will love you for ever. Or even longer.

Oh, and apparently you can vote as often as you like. Erghhhh, I HATE this! I don't expect to win but I'd love not to be voted off first time.

If you like Wasted, please tell your friends.