Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

I hope you've had a good Christmas and are looking forward to 2012.

I am.

I have had a good year in 2011. This is a my favourite picture of 2011 that doesn't involve my family.

It is a small cairn I built on top of a mountain in the Arctic, when I was researching my book, Squad: White Fear in September. I built it for a friend of mine who had just lost his mum.

I have big plans for 2012.

They include author tours based around Fair Trade Fortnight (February/March), the launch of my new series (May), Euro 2012 (June) and the Olympic Football (August).

Also writing books about night running, spies, a haunted stadium, mermaids and... er... football.

I have dreams for Leeds United too, but after today's 4-1 reverse at Barnsley, I think I've got a better chance of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Race Result

I managed to get round the Hot Toddy course without my knee caving in, thrilled to do the six miles in under 48 minutes, four minutes faster than I did it last year. There is a picture of me struggling up one of the hills here.

Next year's target: 45'00.

Back to work tomorrow. Three weeks to finish Squad II: White Fear. Here is the cover for book one:

Monday, 26 December 2011

Hot Toddy 2011

I'm doing the Hot Toddy road race tomorrow. Six miles round where I live. Hilly. I did it in 52 minutes two years ago. Was injured last year. I'm aiming for 48 minutes tomorrow.

I'll post about it tomorrow.

Then the night running begins, starting on 1st January...

Monday, 19 December 2011


 This is Warland Reservoir, over Todmorden. If you ever do the Pennine Way you'll have to walk this way.

It's where I run. Once or twice a week. This is what it looked like yesterday. When I run up there I feel really happy.

I've got this idea for a book. A fell runner - a boy, age 15 - runs this way at night. He uses a head torch to light his way. And, one night, he sees something in the water...

I'm getting a head torch for Chirstmas. I can't wait to get to work. Research.

Anyway, this is my Christmas card to you.

Happy Christmas!

I hope you have a lovely time with your friends and family.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Stadiums or Stadia

I've been working at a lot of football stadiums recently. Delivering Premier League Reading Stars training days.

What is it about going to work in a stadium?

Even if it's only in a room on the outside of the stadium without a view of the pitch. Even if it's only the training ground. Either way, it's thrilling.

I like being in football stadiums.

I have taken groups of children to stadiums too. It always grips the children. Just like it grips me.

Today it was QPR. Last week it was Wolves and Blackburn.

Stadiums I have worked in: Man C, Man U, Spurs, Newcastle, Norwich, Everton, QPR, Wolves, Blackburn, Bolton, West Ham, Cardiff, Hull, LEEDS UNITED, Leicester, Barnsley, Derby, Pompey, Forest, Charlton, Huddersfield, Sheff U, Carlisle, Preston, Scunthorpe, Crewe, Northampton, Plymouth, Bradford.

Sometimes I even get to sleep at stadiums. Tonight I will be getting my head down at Leicester's Walker Stadium. Last month I slept at Carrow Road. Both have Holiday Inn hotels attached. At Norwich you even get a sheet of paper telling you not to gesture or shout abuse out of the hotel window.

That cuts down on the evening's entertainment.

I am going to be writing a story about an abandonded stadium soon. A ghost story. A group of boys camp inside a football stadium. Then night falls... I would love to research it in a real abandoned stadium.

By the way, don't try that at home! It is illegal to enter abandonded stadiums and camp in them.

And that goes for the adults as well as the children.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Real Lives

The Footballers' Battalion, WWI
I was at Wolves' Molineux stadium today, delivering a Premier League Reading Stars training day.

I was excited to read that the training was to take place in the Major Buckley Suite.

Major Frank Buckley (pictured in the team here) was a key figure in the WWI footballers' battalion, a whole battalion made up of footballers and football fans too.

The book I was working on earlier this year - and will be working on again in early 2012 - is about the battatlion and Buckley is a key character. As are Sid Wheelhouse and Fred Bullock (also on the picture). The book is called Over the Line.

All of my books to date have been made up. A boy who solves football crimes. A fictional Premier League football academy. A team who represent England at football, some of whom are spies.

But Over the Line is about real people and real events. A lot of it is fictionalised, but I try to keep it as close to what did - or would have - happened.

That's why it was so exciting finding the pictures and letters to do with Buckley at Wolves. And why - in the spring - it was striking to stand at Sid Wheelhouse's grave in France.

These events remind me that I must be careful because I am writing around real lives.