But I was still finding my voice as a writer back then and most of my Record Mirror rants are embarrassing to read now. After three years I felt I'd run out of things to say about music, and left to pursue a new dream — to write novels. Easy, right? It took a little longer than I'd hoped.
In 1988 my first young adult book, A Light In The Black, sold to Penguin in the UK. The press were generous (as a former critic now on the receiving end, I'd feared the worst) and the book was shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. My second novel, Calling All Monsters, was optioned by Spielberg/Amblin and Spielberg/Dreamworks. Although the option was twice renewed the film is still unproduced.
My fifth YA novel, Becoming Julia, was a runner-up for both the Sheffield and Lancashire Children's Book awards. After that, Virtual World, a cyberspace thriller in which players of an illegally downloaded interactive game mysteriously disappear, made the Carnegie Award long-list.
I've had a long break from writing for various reasons (health, family etc., in other words life getting in the way) but I finally got back to work with Ministry of Pandemonium, the first of a series of novels set in a secret, alternative London. Ministry won the 2012 North East Book Award and was runner-up for the Northern Ireland Book Award in the same year. In 2013 it was shortlisted for the Calderdale Children's Book of the Year Award.