Author details

Catherine MacPhail


I was born and still live in Greenock, although I love traveling. I always wanted to be a writer, I can’t think of a time when I didn’t. I was always making up stories, I just never thought wee lassies like me could become 'proper writers'. It was only after I married and had my children that I joined the local writers' group and began sending stories away. The first one I had published I had actually written when I was 17! Why didn’t I send it away then? I tried every kind of writing from articles, to romantic novels, to short stories. I’ve always loved comedy, and had two comedy series on radio as well as comedy plays. It was 1994 before I began writing a book called Run Zan Run, and this changed my life.

About writer's work

I like writing about real-life themes. I always say that for me the real magic is where the idea comes from. I’ve written several books with a bullying theme, for example Run Zan Run, Missing, Picking on Percy and Sticks and Stones all examine the theme of bullying.
I like taking young characters in to situations which would be challenging for adults. In Missing, in which a boy disappears, I look at how this affects his younger sister. Young people deal with such situations so differently from adults. But the theme I really love is relationships, particularly strong family and friendship relationships. How do friends relate to each other? (Worse Than Boys, or Bad Company). How loyal would you be to a member of your family? (Dark Waters) and how far would you go to avenge your father? (Wheels)

Run Zan Run won the Kathleen Fidler Award in 1994, and the Vergheretto Award in 1997
Fighting Back won the Arts Council Childrens Book Award in 1999
Missing won the South Lanarkshire Book Award in 2000
Dark Waters won the Stockport Book Award in 2003
Tribes won the Sheffield Book Award in 2002
Underworld won the Calderdale Book Award in 2005
Catch Us If You Can won the Calderdale Book Award in 2005
Roxy’s Baby won the Royal Mail Award for Scottish Children’s Books in 2006, The North East Book Award 2006 and The Grampian Book Award in 2007

Websites featuring the author

Cathy MacPhail: website

Current events and projects

I really enjoy doing events at schools, as well as workshops on writing, and residencies. My events always include storybuilding, how plots grow, where ideas come from and how character creates story. I work with young audiences as well as adult groups.
I’ve recently been involved in three-day events at schools, working with the feeder primaries on various books. They worked on graffiti art for Tribes, built a wigwam for Fugitive, and Missing Posters for Catch Us if You Can.
I enjoy interactive events, brainstorming stories with pupils. In fact, my book Wheels was written when I was trying to show how important a good first chapter can be to grab a reader, so I wrote a first chapter, and liked it so much, I wrote the rest of the book!


Local authority where they are based


Local authorities where they can work

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, Shetland, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian

Age groups

9-12, Teens, Adults

LL funded


BRAW network


Author type




Books written

Devil You Know

Author(s): Catherine MacPhail
"Baz was the kind of friend I wanted.

Collins Big Cat Progress - If It Wasn't For Tom: Gold Band 9/Sapphire Band 16

Author(s): Catherine MacPhail
If it wasn’t for Tom, one young boy would be much happier at school – he would be able to play football without being taunted from the sidelines.

Mosi’s War

Author(s): Catherine MacPhail
Patrick is happy living with his mum. She lets him do what he wants, pretty much, and it's only when his granny comes to stay that he has to get down to his homework and go to bed early.

The Disappeared: A Tyler Lawless Mystery

Author(s): Catherine MacPhail
<p><span>The dead teacher, Miss Baxter, comes back, and Tyler knows she must help her. Miss Baxter has waited long enough, and now she seems desperate, as if she is running out of time.
Secret of the Shadows

Secret of the Shadows

Author(s): Catherine MacPhail
Tyler is staying in her grandmother's cottage to help tidy it up after her death. Why does the spare bedroom that Tyler sleeps in always seem cold, despite bright sunshine?
Collins Big Cat - The Football Shirt

Collins Big Cat - The Football Shirt

Author(s): Catherine MacPhail
Ross has been saving for a football top of his favourite team for ages, but doesn’t think he’ll ever afford it.
Out of the Depths

Out of the Depths

Author(s): Catherine MacPhail
'I saw my teacher in the queue in Tesco's last Christmas. Miss Baxter. I was surprised to see her. She'd been dead six months'.


Author(s): Catherine MacPhail
It would have been hard to have missed what was written on the wall. Painted in giant whitewashed letters: 'SHARKEY IS A GRASS'. I hadn't a clue who Sharkey was, but I knew one thing.
Run Zan Run (Hardback)

Run Zan Run (Hardback)

Author(s): Catherine MacPhail
'Ivy turned on her. 'I told you I'd get you, didn't I? Well,' her next words sent shivers through Katie.