Monday, 29 March 2010

Using the World Cup to encourage reading

I have finished my toolkit of ideas for schools and libraries to use to promote reading through the World Cup.

Love Football: Love Reading is available at

It is full of ideas for displays, activities and book groups. There is also a free episodic story for football fiction fans.

Please let anyone who you think may be interested know about it.

Thank you kindly.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

I had a great day today. After doing an event at Aberdeen library, I went to see Aberdeen v Dundee United.

It was a good game. End to end. In the first half hour, Aberdeen were terrible and went 2-0 down. Then, cheered on by their fans at last, got it back to 2-2.

I chose to sit in the bit between the two sets of fans. The banter was great. Lots of chanting, gesturing and a couple of fans kicked out.

This is Jon Daly, scorer of the two Dundee games.

It is odd watching football that doesn't involve Leeds. You can just enjoy the football, instead of feeling deeply anxious about every kick of the ball.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Running on Sand

I have never run on sand before - on a beach. But I did last night.

It was nice. And I have no shin pain today. Roads hurt my legs.

This is the beach I ran on.

From Colwyn Bay to Aberdeen

I am nearly at the end of an epic eight-hour trip by train from North Wales to Aberdeen.

We've just gone through Arbroath (home of the UK's most extraordinary ever football result, 36-0).

But, as I travel north, my coat is heading south, to London. I left it on the 1500 hours Rhyl to Euston. Still, I'm not going to need a coat in Aberdeen, am I?

I am in Aberdeen to do an SPL Reading Stars event and to go into some schools on Monday.

Aberdeen are at home to Dundee United tomorrow, so I'll go and see that. I've seen football in England, Ghana, Egypt, France, Spain, Belgium, Malta and Wales. But never Scotland.

I have to find a toy Highland Cow for my daughter, too.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Please sponsor me

In two months I am doing a sponsored bike ride from Sheffield to London with my agent, David, and his friend, Pat.

We want to raise money to buy books for a football academy library in Ghana. The academy does great work and helped me enormously when I was researching my book, Off Side.
Please have a look at Whatever you can give will be gratefully recieved.


Sunday, 7 March 2010


I'm in Glasgow this evening. Tomorrow I'm talking at the city's brilliant Aye Write! book fesitval. I came here last year and loved it. They run one of the very best festivals in the UK.

They have put me up in an amazing hotel. There's a 36 inch TV, a gap in the wall so you can watch live football (for instance) from the bath and two Tunnocks tea cakes with the tea/coffee. This is stylish living.

On the way up here on the train I read some more of Forza Italia. It is great and is giving me several possible settings for my next book. I am at that great stage of a book where I'm reading around, looking for characters and places for them to do their stuff.

So far Como, Milan and Rome in Italy look good. The problem is we're a bit skint at the moment, so may not be able to go. But I'm hoping we can. I've been to all those cities before, but it'd be best to go back.

If I see a place in the context of what my story is going to be it helps me get it right. It also gives me new ideas for the plot.

For instance, when I went round St Basil's catherdral in Moscow I had the idea that Danny could hide in there overnight.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Author in search of a character

On the train to Norwich last night, I read Forza Italia by Paddy Agnew, in preparation for the fifth Foul Play novel.

His book is about the ups and downs of Italian football. Lots of corruption amid some of the greatest football ever played.

I am reading it because I am looking for a villain for my book. Someone who is a menace to football and society. Someone who Danny Harte - my hero - can take on.

Any volunteers?

Monday, 1 March 2010

Save Libraries

There is a lot in the news about councils cutting services, after a new survey.

As usual, libraries are being touted as the main losers. There will be rationalisations. Efficiencies. Staff. Buildings. Books.

We need to get down to our libraries and borrow more books. We need to join if we're not members. Persuade others to join. That's how libraries judged. On their active users: people who have borrowed books in the last year.

Run 2

I did my second proper race on Saturday. 10K at Standish Hall Wigan.

I have never run in eight inches of mud before. Or across sloping fields on my hands and kness because of standing water. But it was fun.

I came 149th out of 185. Not bad for me. I did it with - mostly behind - author of a Yorkshire Miscellany, Tom Holman. He came 148th. Time 1'00'21. But that was down to the mud.