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David Almond - Author

About the Author

In March 2010 David Almond won The Hans Christian Andersen Award which is presented every other year to a living author and illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children's literature.

 

Julia Eccleshare on David Almond:

One of the best-loved and finest writers of today, David Almond made an immediate impact with Skellig, his first book. The moving story of a boy’s discovery of a strange creature in the shed which can be interpreted in many ways introduced some to the recurrent themes of David Almond’s writing. Infused with a touch of magic or the supernatural or ‘belief’, David Almond writes sensitively about the inner complexities of growing up. Much influenced by the landscape of Tyneside where he was brought up and still lives, David Almond’s books have a strong sense of place especially in titles such as Heaven’s Eyes, The Fire-Eater and Kit’s Wilderness. Although often clearly set in some particular time, there is a timeless quality to David Almond’s stories which give them enduring appeal.

 

As a child
I grew up in a large Catholic family in Felling-on-Tyne: four sisters and one brother. I always knew I'd be a writer – I wrote stories and stitched them into little books. I had an uncle who was a printer, and in his printing shop I learned my love of black words on white pages. I loved our local library and dreamed of seeing books with my name on the cover on its shelves. I also dreamed of playing for Newcastle United (and I still wait for the call!). There was much joy in my childhood, but also much sadness: a baby sister died when I was 7; my dad died when we were all still young; my mum was always seriously ill with arthritis. But it was a childhood, like all childhoods, that provided everything a writer needs, and it illuminates and informs everything I write.
As an adult
After school, I read English and American Literature. When I graduated I became a teacher – long holidays, short days, just perfect for a writer. After 5 years, I gave up the job and lived in a commune in rural Norfolk where I wrote and met my partner Sara Jane. I wrote a long adult novel that was rejected by every UK publisher. I had two collections of short stories published by the tiny IRON Press. I started another adult novel, put it aside, and suddenly, out of the blue, I found myself writing Skellig. It was as if the story had been waiting for me, and once I began, it seemed to write itself. I hadn't expected to write a children's novel, but in some way it was the natural outcome of everything I'd done before, and was the stepping-stone to everything I've done since. I now live in Northumberland with Sara Jane and our daughter Freya. I'm a full-time writer. Sara Jane makes ceramics, Freya goes to school.
As an artist
For years, I was hardly published and hardly anyone knew about me apart from a handful of keen fans. And I made just about no money at all from writing. That didn't really matter to me. I'd keep on writing, no matter what. Then I wrote Skellig and everything changed. I began to sell lots of books, to be translated into many languages, to travel, to win lots of prizes. I've written a number of novels after Skellig, including Kit's Wilderness, The Fire-Eaters and Clay. There have been stage versions of the novels, and films and an opera are on their way. I used to write in the attic at home, but there were lots of distractions – especially from email and telephone. So last year, I had a cabin built at the bottom of the garden. It's very nice, blue-grey and surrounded by trees. I have a radiator to keep me warm and I have a tap and a kettle for making tea. Every morning – when I'm at home and not travelling or making school visits or talking to people on the phone or answering emails – I carry my laptop down to the cabin and I set to work.
Things you didn't know about David Almond
•    I once held the school high-jump record – 5 ft 2.5 inches.
•    I have a pet rabbit called Bill who can grunt.
•    I dream about football – and kick in my sleep!
•    I love Japanese food – except for the thing I was given once that looked like an alien's brain.
•    I've taken part in three Great North Runs (half-marathons).
•    My favourite place is Upper Swaledale in Yorkshire.
•    I love bikes, camping and fires.
•    My first TV appearance was as an altar boy in a televised mass when I was eleven.
•    My grandfather was a bookie (he took bets on horse races). His advice? "Never bet." He also told me, "Never read novels. They're all just lies."
•    My nickname at school was Dai, and several old friends still call me that.

 

Featured books by David Almond

The Tightrope Walkers

The Tightrope Walkers

Author: David Almond Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/07/2014

ebook of the month

Other books by David Almond

The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon

The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon

Author: David Almond Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/08/2015

A magnificent tale of crackpot notions and sky-high courage - from David Almond, the master of magical realism, with illustrations by the award-winning Polly Dunbar. A magnificent tale of crackpot notions and sky-high courage - from David Almond, the master of magical realism, with illustrations by the award-winning Polly Dunbar. Paul believes that the moon is not the moon, but is a great hole in the sky. It's one of many strange ideas that he's never told anyone (at school he was told that he had no ideas at all), until he meets Molly, his irrepressible neighbour, who begins to convince him that his theory might just change the world. Helped by a very long ladder, some highly irregular characters, two rather worried parents and a great deal of community spirit, Paul takes to the sky. But his astonishing discovery there can't keep him away for long - what is waiting for him back at home is turning out to be better than he'd ever imagined...

A Song for Ella Grey

A Song for Ella Grey

Author: David Almond Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/06/2015

Winner of the Guardian children's book prize 2015 I'm the one who's left behind. I'm the one to tell the tale. I knew them both... knew how they lived and how they died. Claire is Ella Grey's best friend. She's there when the whirlwind arrives on the scene: catapulted into a North East landscape of gutted shipyards; of high arched bridges and ancient collapsed mines. She witnesses a love so dramatic it is as if her best friend has been captured and taken from her. But the loss of her friend to the arms of Orpheus is nothing compared to the loss she feels when Ella is taken from the world. This is her story - as she bears witness to a love so complete; so sure, that not even death can prove final.

Great War

Great War

In a powerful collection, eleven internationally acclaimed fiction writers draw on personal objects to bring the First World War to life for listeners of all ages.A toy soldier. A butter dish. A compass. Mundane objects, perhaps, but to the remarkable authors in this collection, artifacts such as these have inspired stories that go to the heart of the human experience of World War I. Each author was invited to choose an object that had a connection to the wara writing kit for David Almond, a helmet for Michael Morpurgoand use it as the inspiration for an original short story. What results is an extraordinary collection, illustrated throughout by the award-winning Jim Kay and featuring photographs of the objects with accounts of their history and the authors' reasons for selecting them. A blend of fiction and real-life events, this unique anthology provides young readers with a personal window into the Great War and the people affected by it, and serves as an invaulable resource for families and teachers alike.

My Dad's a Birdman

My Dad's a Birdman

Author: David Almond Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/04/2015

Join a father and daughter as they find their wings together and take to the skies in this funny, tender tale from the master of contemporary storytelling. A warm and wonderfully wacky tale told with heart and hope by the Carnegie award winning author David Almond. Lizzie and Dad live in a rainy town in the north of England. It's just the two of them, and Auntie Doreen, who pops round to check Lizzie's spellings and tell Dad he's daft - and make them nice hot dumplings. But today there's something unusual going on: why is Dad building himself a pair of wings and studying the birds to see how they fly? The Great Human Bird Competition of course!

Tightrope Walkers

Tightrope Walkers

Author: David Almond Format: eBook Release Date: 24/03/2015

International award-winner David Almond draws on memories of his early years in Tyneside, England, for a moving coming-of-age novel, masterfully told.A gentle visionary coming of age in the shadow of the shipyards of northern England, Dominic Hall is torn between extremes.On the one hand, he craves the freedom he feels when he steals away with the eccentric girl artist next door, Holly Stroudhis first and abiding loveto balance above the earth on a makeshift tightrope. With Holly, Dom dreams of a life different in every way from his shipbuilder dad's, a life fashioned of words and images and story.On the other hand, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to the brutal charms of Vincent McAlinden, a complex bully who brings out Dom's darker desires, awakening something wild and reckless and killing in his nature.In a raw and beautifully crafted bildungsroman, David Almond reveals the rich inner world of a boy teetering on the edge of manhood, a boy so curious and alive and open to impulse that we fear for him and question his balanceand ultimately exult in his triumphs.

Half a Creature from the Sea

Half a Creature from the Sea

Author: David Almond Format: eBook Release Date: 21/08/2014

An anthology of dark, powerful and moving short stories from master storyteller David Almond, inspired by his childhood in the north-east of England.David Almond says of this unique collection, "e;Stories on the page are so beautifully neat. All that lovely black print; those lovely straight lines and paragraphs and pages. But stories are living things, creatures that move and grow in the imaginations of writer and reader. They must be solid and touchable, like the land, and must have fluid half-known depths, like the sea. These stories take place in a real world - but in fiction, real worlds merge with dreamed worlds. Real people walk with ghosts and figments. Earthly truth goes hand-in-hand with watery lies."e; Stories include: "e;The Missing Link"e;, "e;Joe Quinn's Poltergeist"e;, "e;Harry Miller's Run"e;, "e;Slog's Dad"e;, "e;Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads"e;, "e;May Malone"e;, "e;Half a Creature from the Sea"e; and "e;When God Came to Cathleen's Garden"e;.

The Tightrope Walkers

The Tightrope Walkers

Author: David Almond Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/07/2014

ebook of the month
The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon

The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon

Author: David Almond Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/04/2014

A magnificent tale of crackpot notions and sky-high courage - from David Almond, the master of magical realism, with illustrations by the award-winning Polly Dunbar. Paul believes that the moon is not the moon, but is a great hole in the sky. It's one of many strange ideas that he's never told anyone (at school he was told that he had no ideas at all), until he meets Molly, his irrepressible neighbour, who begins to convince him that his theory might just change the world. Helped by a very long ladder, some highly irregular characters, two rather worried parents and a great deal of community spirit, Paul takes to the sky. But his astonishing discovery there can't keep him away for long - what is waiting for him back at home is turning out to be better than he'd ever imagined...

True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean

True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean

Author: David Almond Format: eBook Release Date: 07/01/2014

From master storyteller David Almond comes a gripping, exquisitely written novel about a hidden-away child who emerges into a broken world.Billy Dean is a secret child. He has a beautiful young mother and a father who arrives at night carrying the scents of candles and incense and cigarettes. Birds fly to his window. Mice run out from his walls. His world is a carpet, a bed, pictures of the holy island, and a single locked door. His father fills his mind and his dreams with mysterious tales and memories and dreadful warnings. But then his father disappears, and Billys mother brings him out into the world at last. He learns the horrifying story of what was saved and what was destroyed on the day he was born, the day the bombers came to Blinkbonny. The kind butcher, Mr. McCaufrey, and the medium, Missus Malone, are waiting for him. He becomes The Angel Child, one who can heal the living, contact the dead, bring comfort to a troubled world. But there is one figure who is beyond healing, who comes looking for Billy himselfand is determined on a kind of reckoning.

Mouse Bird Snake Wolf

Mouse Bird Snake Wolf

Author: David Almond Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/01/2014

The dream team of David Almond and Dave McKean bring us a complete story set in an incomplete world. The gods have created a world - they've built mountains, a sea and a sky - and now their days are filled with long naps in the clouds (and tea and cake). That's until Harry, Sue and Little Ben begin to fill the gaps of the world: with a mousy thing, a chirpy thing and a twisty legless thing. As the children's ideas take shape, the power of their visions proves to be greater than they, or the gods, could ever have imagined.

The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas

The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas

Author: David Almond Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/09/2013

Multi-award-winning author David Almond brings us a joyfully life-affirming and fabulously fishy tale about one boy's journey from anguish to joy. Stanley Potts is just an ordinary boy, but when all the jobs in Fish Quay disappear his Uncle Ernie develops an extraordinary fascination with canning fish. Suddenly their home is filled with the sound of clanging machinery and the stench of mackerel, and Uncle Ernie's obsession reaches such heights that he would even can Stan's beloved goldfish! Stan, however, has his own destiny, which leads him - via a hook-a-duck stall - to Pancho Pirelli, the blue-caped madman who swims with piranhas. And as Stan delves into the waters, he finally discovers who he really can be.

Skellig 15th Anniversary Edition

Skellig 15th Anniversary Edition

Author: David Almond Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/09/2013

To celebrate 15 year of this internationally successful, multi-award-winning novel, a beautiful clothbound edition, with newly commissioned artwork, and special features: - essays by David Almond on the conception and writing of Skellig - exclusive first UK publication of the short story that links Skellig with Mina - the poetry of Skellig - two complete William Blake poems - Skellig: a life - how the novel has transcended the page to become an opera and a film. When a move to a new house coincides with his baby sister's illness, Michael's world seems suddenly lonely and uncertain. Then he stumbles into the old, ramshackle garage, and finds something magical. A strange creature - part owl, part angel, a being who needs Michael's help if he is to survive. With his new friend Mina, Michael nourishes Skellig back to health, while his baby sister languishes in the hospital. But Skellig is far more than he at first appears, and as he helps Michael breathe life into his tiny sister, Michael's world changes for ever . . .

Nesting

Nesting

Author: David Almond Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 21/05/2013

Mouse Bird Snake Wolf

Mouse Bird Snake Wolf

Author: David Almond Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/05/2013

The dream team of David Almond and Dave McKean bring us a complete story set in an incomplete world. The gods have created a world - they've built mountains, a sea and a sky - and now their days are filled with long naps in the clouds (and tea and cake). That's until Harry, Sue and little Ben begin to fill the gaps of the world: with a mousy thing, a chirpy thing and a twisty legless thing. As the children's ideas take shape, the power of their visions proves to be greater than they, or the gods, could ever have imagined.