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Welcome to my site!

Some of my books

I write books for all ages, for young children to teenage and adults. I have also written a book on writing - Writing for Children - for both aspiring and newly published authors.

While I spend quite a lot of time visiting libraries, schools and festivals talking about my books and running creative writing workshops, I do manage to find time to write, too!

You can download the free story: Hamish McHaggis and the Aberlady Gala Mystery.

Latest News:

A first look – Writers & Artists Guide to Writing for Children and YA

It is always exciting when the parcel arrives with your advance copies of your newly published book.  Opening the parcel, turning the book over in your hands; it – after all the hard work writing and editing, worrying about whether it will turn out the way you hoped, finally leaving it in the hands of the publisher at the last stage -it all contributes to a kind of nervous excitement.


I would like to say a huge thank you to my lovely editor and her team, for all their work and support. Now it is over to you, the reader.  Unlike a work of fiction, a writing guide is something that people will hopefully go back to again and again, dipping into it at different stages.

This is a new and very much updated edition. Some of you may recall the previous one with a white cover and a 70’s style lion on the front!  So much has changed in the 11 years since 2008 when that one appeared on the shelves.  The publishing world has changed a lot and in this new book I have also included some books ( recommended reads)  that you might like to try as a starter for your reading list, to better understand each area of writing for children & YA. Anyone who wants to write or is writing in this field, should be reading the amazing books out there already.  You will find it hones your understanding of where your own writing will fit in each area and these books I have suggested are only a very small sample of some of the amazing books being written at the moment for young people.

One of the biggest differences between writing for adults and writing for children is that children not only enjoy different genres but they also need different kinds of books and their requirements are different depending on their age, reading ability and what they understand about the world.  You would not give a harsh/edgy murder mystery to a five year old!  Publishers will want a writer to understand where their book will fit in their list, and on the shelf in a bookshop, and that the writer understands the appropriate length or style. It is a challenging area to write for but exciting, too.

And…. you have my absolute permission to turn down corners, mark it up with coloured pens or put in sticky coloured tabs or post it notes in it.  I have heard people say that the previous edition was used in all of these ways and that warms my heart!

I hope it helps anyone wanting to start writing for Children or Young Adults, for those already with a work in progress or newly published, but also anyone with an interest in how it is done.

Published 30th November 2019  it is available from all good bookshops ( do support your local independent bookshop!)  and online book stores.


A JACOBITE BOOK LAUNCH – White Cockades, Targes, Swords, and CAKE!


Inside the Central Library of Edinburgh, Children’s Department, it was bright and cosy, despite the terrible rain and windy weather outside.  Gathered together were friends, family and readers, all  come to celebrate the launch of  my new book

The Dangerous Lives of the Jacobites.

It is always fun to have a bit of a party to welcome a new book onto the shelves and my excellent young helpers, Abigail, Poppy and Isla offered everyone a white cockade to wear as they arrived.

The white cockade was the white rose symbol of the Jacobites. Often the women of the time would make them from white ribbons or cloth and they would sew them on their dresses, and the men might would wear them on their bonnets, to show support for Bonnie Prince Charlie.  We also had little swords and targes ( shields) for children to decorate and take home with them.

Rob, Aggie and wee Meggie

We had hoped that the illustrator Darren Gate, would be there to draw while I was reading, but sadly the weather was so bad he got stuck on the road and eventually had to turn back.

He did get a round of applause for his excellent illustrations but I know he was disappointed not to be able to be there to celebrate the book with us, especially after working so hard on it.

I was introduced by Sally Polson, my lovely editor, who asked me if I would speak a little about life in the 18th Century.

There is so much in the book about life at the time and the research was fascinating.  There are facts, maps and diagrams of battles, but I did particularly enjoy writing the story; as we follow  one of the main characters, young Rob, and his father when they go off to join the Jacobite Army and Bonnie Prince Charlie at Glenfinnan. They march with the army south to Edinburgh, to the battle of Prestonpans.

The story follows them all the way through England to Derby where they turned back and marched up north again, and finally to the ill fated battle of Culloden.

Meanwhile the story also follows Aggie, Rob’s younger sister, their mother, grandmother and their little sister, wee Meggie. We learn about life in the blackhouse and when they go also up in the sheilings when the weather got a bit better.  Aggie hears about some of the previous uprisings from the older women, just as Rob is hearing battle stories from the seasoned soldiers around the army campfires.

I was fascinated by researching the herbs and plants they used for day to day life and for medicines. So I spoke about that for a bit and then Sally interviewed and I had a bit of fun, with her questions.

We had some excellent questions from the audience and of course it wouldn’t be a book launch without a cake!


Many thanks to everyone who came along and also to the great team from the publisher, Floris Books, who all worked hard to make sure everything went well.

Here is Ali who was in charge of the books and I was able to use my new stamp when I signed them.




Rob and Aggie






The Dangerous Lives of the Jacobites – A book birthday!


Delighted to announce the publication of my latest book by @Discoverkelpies  idea for all history buffs but especially for

7-10 year olds.  Includes maps, timelines, family trees, Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Jacobite Risings, and so much more.

The exciting story of brother and sister, Rob and Aggie, and their Highland Jacobite family.