“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist.” – Robert Schumann
My name is John and I’m a writer. My first book TURF came out in 2012. The Financial Times called it ‘An exhilarating tragic tale and a terrific debut.’ The Observer said it was: ‘Powerful and unsettling.’ It was also in the Telegraph’s and Independent’s top ten teen/YA books for that year.
When you’re fifteen everything matters. I’m not just talking about the obvious stuff: what music you like, who your crew is, whatever. I mean everything. All the little details. The way you carry your bag, the way you wear your jeans. The way you tie your shoes, the way you walk in your shoes, the kind of shoes you’re wearing. The way you cut your hair, the way you wear your hat. Where you cross the road – Traffic lights and zebra crossings are for pussies, bruv – to where you sit on the bus. Your postcode, your estate, your school … You try living this life and see if it don’t make you a little … tense.
I am available for talks and workshops. I really enjoy connecting with readers (and non-readers alike!) and trying to inspire a love of reading and storytelling.
Stories are everywhere. Our lives are made up of stories. And for me books are stories in their most engaging, immersive and purest form. I firmly believe that anyone who says they don’t like reading just isn’t thinking about it in the right way. And that’s something I really try to get across when I meet school pupils (in as entertaining and inspiring way as possible, of course!).
Turf connects really well with teenagers. I usually focus on the themes of the book and the book’s structure and use them to show how to create engaging characters and a compelling narrative, using examples ranging from superheroes to Shakespeare.
Fire and Sky
“You know when you look at someone for the first time and a missing piece just clicks into place? When something chimes, a bell rings, it feels like the constellations are in some awesome and magical pattern for the first and only time, and all of history – the big bang, the formation of the galaxies, the stars, the planets, the first gloops of life in the primordial soup, the fish, the plants, the animals, humanity, the myths and legends, the whole cosmic thrill ride, the big-dipping, cheek-squeezing, light speed inter-galactic rollercoaster, the never-ending explosion of time, space, matter and energy – was set in motion just to get you to this point, and you realise, as incredible as it all was, what went before was only a prelude, a preamble, a trailer, an introduction to the real story, the story that begins right there with the meeting of your eyes?”