At the moment I’m working on two main ideas. One is a transatlantic thriller for adults, set between London and Los Angeles. The other is a detective series for children. In the last few years I’ve developed much more of an interest in a page-turning plot. My natural style is fast-paced, I enjoy writing action and I want to write stories which get the reader hooked. One thing I didn’t expect to enjoy so much was putting together a puzzle of a plot. I used to just try and let my stories tell themselves, but I’ve developed a real love for an intricately plotted story. They’re immensely satisfying to read and to write.



“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.”
Turf is the story of Jay. Jay’s about to turn sixteen – that means it’s time for him to graduate to the Blake Street Boyz’ Olders. And that means passing an initiation. But it’s an extreme task; one that makes Jay question if being in the gang is really as good as it had always seemed to be.
As Jay comes to terms with the task he’s been set his world begins to unravel around him. He begins to discover that some decisions are more complicated than right and wrong, and some outcomes more important than life and death.
‘Lucas cleverly contrasts the banality of school life with the brutal code of the streets. An exhilarating, tragic tale and a terrific debut’ – Financial Times
‘A powerful and unsettling novel, Turf’s biggest success is its protagonist, a character as misunderstood, complex and terrifying as the world he must flee’ – Observer
‘An unusual and original novel’ – Independent on Sunday
‘This compelling story sheds light on the lives of a group of disaffected young people, for whom life is cheap and belonging to a gang is everything. An astounding and thought-provoking novel’ – Booktrust
‘Turf is a fantastic, heartbreaking, emotional and gritty novel. Utterly realistic and completely devastating – one of the best novels I’ve read this year’ – The Review Diaries
‘An exceptionally powerful debut novel; John Lucas is a writer to watch’ – Books for Keeps
‘Jay makes for a lively, intelligent, wryly funny narrator. The fact he can see the hopelessness of his situation makes his tragic trajectory all the more poignant’ – Metro
‘A harrowing but illuminating read’ – Bookbag


“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?”
This is the beginning of Fire and Sky when Sam, the main character, first meets Rachel and gets himself involved in a messy and painful love triangle. Sam is recovering from a family tragedy and has found the best way of coping is to do parkour or freerunning, a pastime which doesn’t prove particularly popular with his family or teachers, or even the police.
I got the idea for Fire and Sky from watching a documentary series on Channel 4 called Daredevils, about extreme sports enthusiasts. One of the people featured had been diagnosed with a condition called counterphobia, which is a pathological need to confront fear. I thought a character with counterphobia would provide a lot of potential for drama and I came up with the idea that Sam feels compelled to face his fears and take risks, but when he falls in love with Rachel he discovers that sometimes love is the scariest thing of all.