I live in Edinburgh with my wife and three children. I have been a professional writer for almost twenty years, though how I have managed to spend that long sitting at home, staring at a computer, making stuff up for a living, I have no idea. I feel incredibly lucky that I get to spend most of my time pursuing the craft of writing, which feels as fascinating, rewarding and challenging today as it always has. I try to keep my work fresh by writing in as many different styles as I can. I have written for adults, teenagers and children, and also do some journalism and screenwriting, though unfortunately none of my screenplays ever seem to get made. All these different kinds of writing feed into one another in interesting and surprising ways.
About writer's work
Most of my books are for adults, though there’s no reason why broad-minded older teens shouldn’t read them. My 2013 novel, The Wall, is the first of my books to be published as a YA novel. It is set in a semi-fictionalised version of The West Bank, in a world that feels very close to the fantasy dystopias familiar in much YA fiction, but which is in fact an accurate and carefully researched portrayal of Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory. It tells the story of a boy from one side of The Wall, who has always been told that a monstrous enemy lives nearby, on the other side. But when he finds a mysterious tunnel and strays into this forbidden territory, he discovers that the truth is far more complex. It raises questions of racial division, justice, family loyalty and how to find a personal morality in a them-versus-us society. It is also an exciting, densely plotted adventure story that I hope will grip teenage readers of both genders.
After finishing this book, I wanted to write something completely different. Hearing my son’s gales of laughter as I read him Mr. Gum set me on road to writing Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom, a funny book for 8-11 year olds. It is silly, surreal, bizarre and most importantly, full of jokes. I find that as a parent, we naturally read less to our children once they are old enough to read to themselves. I wanted to write a book for confident readers, but which has rich enough humour for adults to want to read it aloud and share the experience. Reading a book to a laughing child is one of the greatest pleasure of parenthood. Equally, teaching children to enjoy language and mess about with words for the sheer pleasure of it, is something that I think should be part of every English curriculum.
A second book, Circus of Thieves on the Rampage is due out in January 2015, and a YA follow-up to the wall, Concentr8, is also on the way.
An earlier book of mine, Bad Influence is about peer pressure, and what happens to a normal 10-year-old who falls under the spell of a malevolent new arrival on his street. It was originally published as an adult book, and has some dark content, but is suitable for teenage readers.
Websites featuring the authorA teacher’s guide to The Wall, from the Bloomsbury website. | A “Talking Points” guide to The Wall, from the Carnegie Prize website. | A video interview with William Sutcliffe talking about The Wall. | William Sutcliffe at the Bloomsbury website.
Current events and projects
I am available for readings and workshops. I am happy to work with 9-12, Teens, Adults. I am willing to travel up to an hour from Edinburgh.
See resources linked below.
(Please note that these resources were not produced by Scottish Book Trust.)
Email via agent: Felicity Rubinstein at Lutyens Rubinstein (firstname.lastname@example.org)