Monday, 31 January 2011


Here's a nice pic of the children at Ysgol y Ffridd in Gwalchmai on Anglesey.
I had a great time with them this afternoon and they asked if I'd put them on the blog. So here they are!
Most of them are Liverpool fans, so they weren't so happy about Torres. But they still got stuck into the Football Reading Game. Kieran won and Kes performed well in goal.
The best bit for me was the questions they asked. They came up with some great questions. They were a thoughtful bunch.
Thanks to all of you!

Sunday, 30 January 2011


I've never been to Anglesey before. But here I am. And so far it's been lovely. A lift from the station. A nice hotel. A meal.

As well as working in six schools (helping to encourage the children to enjoy reading and libraries) over the next two days, I have two other targets.

Finish the first draft of Over the Line, my WW1 novel. I managed 1500 words on the bus replacement service and train. More tonight. Then I will have a 35,000 word first draft that has more holes in it than a Tottenham's defence earlier today. It will need a lot of work, but I do feel good to have the first draft down.

Run. I am going for a run tomorrow late afternoon. I am right on the Menai Straights here and there's apparently a coastal path. I am doing a race in Wigan in 20 days. A very challenging mudbath of a 10K race. I did it last year in 60.20:00. This year I reckon I can do it in under 50.00:00 because I've been doing a lot more hills - and mud - recently.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Over the Line

I'm still writing Over the Line, my book about footballers in World War One. I'm up to 32,000 words. 6,000 to go. In the first draft.

I have been reading exclusively about WW1 for four months. I have been watching films, visiting museums. I have been dreaming it. It's been intense. But I am nearly there.

But is it any good?

It's hard to say. I have never written about the past before. My wife and agent and co-author like the first 8,000 words. No one has read the rest.
I am going to France soon - with my family - to see remaining/reconstructed trenches, cemetries and museums about the war. I want to get it right. I think it is going to be a great trip. I think going to places where something happened gives you a better sense of what they meant. I will see things that I could not imagine. That's the reason I go to places if I'm writing about them.
Saying that, I'm not going to 1916, am I?

Have you been to the Imperial War Museum? It's amazing. There is a mocked up trench there.
Here's a picture:

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Leeds v Scunthorpe

I took my daughter to the football today.
This is her and her good friend, Isaac.
And Lucas the Lion (he's the one wearing the Leeds top).
Also pictured is Teddy.
Leeds won 4-0. A good day.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


I did an event in Wakefield today. In a school.

I was there because a lad called Charlie had written to me saying he liked my books. So I dropped in on my way down to London, where I am now. Charlie is a Leeds fan. He'd been to the Arsenal game at the weekend.

I also met a lad called Matthew.

I was telling the kids about the book I'm writing about footballers in WW1. He was really interested and produced loads of his war books that he keeps at school, plus a picture of his great Grandad who was a desert rat. One of his books is a photo book about WW1. Just the kind of book I was looking for myself.

And he leant me it. How kind is that?

So here I am in a London hotel leafing through it. And it's great.

Thanks Matthew.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Sometimes I don’t think a book I am writing is going to be a real published book until someone else says what they think of it. I work on my own, developing a story; and, half the time, think it is a load of rubbish and that no-one is going to want to read it.

I’ve been writing a book about WW1. It is a bit different to what I normally do. And it has been challenging. Because it is set in a real time with real people, I have to make sure I get my facts right.

In the Foul Play series, I want it be like the real football world, but I don’t need to stick to what happened on, say, 31 March 1914. In this new book I do.

Maybe I’m no good at that. Maybe I’m kidding myself.

So, this lunchtime, I was sat with a much-respected author, his agent and my agent in a relatively posh restaurant and they tell us they love the book we are writing together, they think it’s going to be really good.

So now I feel better. I suppose it's about confidence.

Monday, 3 January 2011

2011 - the plan

I've just turned down the chance of a winter walk with the poet, Craig Bradley. (Also known as

I would love to go for a walk with him, but this week I need to get writing. I have two months to get the first draft of Over the Line written and that includes two days at the Imperial War Museum later this week and if I don't prepare for that it'll be a waste of time going.

2011 is going to be like that. I feel like this is the year that could make or break my career. I have to write three books. If they are not 100% as good as I can make them, maybe my career as a writer will start to wane. Then I have to worry about my mortgage and the overdraft.

I'm not complaining. I love my job. I write. I go into four schools a week - or more. I'm lucky I am published at all.

But it's not ideal for friendships. Never being at home. Always worrying about time.

Craig reads this blog. He understands. He does the same as I do. In fact, he has a great children's novel out in the spring. Beautifully written.

I'm sorry Craig.

Shola Scores

I've got two photos of footballers holding one of my books. This is Shola Ameobi reading Reading the Game.
It's a rare day one of the two scores a goal, but seeing as Shola scored Newcastle's winner at Wigan yesterday, I thought I'd post it. Again.
The other one - for your info - is Yossi Benayoun. But I can't use that one so much now, as he's moved to Chelsea and the picture I have has him in a Liverpool top.
Go Shola!