Please note that Keith Gray is no longer based in Scotland and is not currently available to carry out Live Literature events.
Keith was definitely the best tree-climber at primary school, but probably one of the worst readers. He avoided books thinking they were a chore and was labeled a ‘reluctant reader’. It wasn’t until he was 12 when he finally realized tree-climbing wasn’t going to turn out to be a proper job, no matter how good he was at it. But it was also around this time when a friend gave him a copy of The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall. This was the book that helped Keith discover a love of reading, and not so long after, for writing too. His first book Creepers was published when he was 24.
He has since gone on to win the Angus Book Award (Warehouse 2003), the silver medal in the Smarties Prize (The Runner 1998) and the Scottish Children's Book Awards in the Older Readers category (Ostrich Boys 2008). He has twice been shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize (Creepers 1997; Warehouse 2002) and twice for the Booktrust Teenage Prize (Malarkey 2003; Ostrich Boys 2008). Ostrich Boys was also shortlisted for Costa Children's Book Award, the CILIP Carnegie Medal, the Young Minds Book Award and has been adapted successfully for the stage both in the UK and abroad. His most recent book specifically aimed at reluctant readers, The Last Soldier, was shortlisted for the Scottish Teen Book Prize 2017.
Keith has edited 2 ground-breaking anthologies for teenagers (Losing It 2010; Next 2012) and has been a judge for the Blue Peter Book Award, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize and the Nestle Children’s Book Award, as well as reviewing teenage fiction for both the Guardian and the Scotsman newspapers. He spends much of his time visiting schools to pass on his love of books and writing.
About writer's work
Several of my books are are aimed at 'reluctant readers' and in schools I often work with struggling students in the hope of convincing them that 'books are for life, not just for homework.'
I'm also regularly asked to speak to new and aspiring writers about the YA/Teen fiction market - the pros and cons of writing for it, why it's an important literary movement, how to break into it. I have mentored aspiring writers, both young and not-so-young as part of Scottish Book Trust's programmes.
I have traveled internationally (appearing at book festivals, conferences and schools in cities such as Beijing, Sao Paolo, Cape Town among others) talking to librarians, teachers and other writers about inspiring young people to read and write.
Websites featuring the authorBritish Council Literature |Penguin |Keith Gray's Writing Workshop |Edinburgh Book Festival |YouTube
Current events and projects
In schools I usually run 2 types of sessions: either a 1 hour talk/presentation which aims to encourage pupils to discover all kinds of fiction for themselves and highlights reading and writing for pleasure, or a fully interactive creative writing workshop aimed at enthusing students to produce their own stories.
The presentation/reading lasts around about an hour and I use my own books and background of how I became a published author to talk about how fiction works from the point of view of the reader and the writer - what makes reading important and how authors can create fun, engaging, empathetic stories. I can deliver this presentation to large audiences and have presented to whole year groups in the past. I always leave time for a Q&A.
My workshops last closer to 90 minutes but I can only deliver this to a maximum of twenty-five students. They would need pens/pencils, loose-leaf paper and desk space for working. The only equipment I require is a flipchart or whiteboard. My aim with the workshop is to give the students as many ‘tools’ as possible to be able to write their own stories – I set short but fun writing exercises that cover aspects of characterisation, structure and plotting, reader engagement and imaginative description.
These are my most requested sessions but I'm very happy to tailor events as required. I'm also experienced at long-term residencies.