About me, my books and my school visits (mygibbo@gmail.com)

To book a school visit email mygibbo@gmail.com

Alan Gibbons has been writing children’s books for 23 years. He is the winner of the Blue Peter Book Award 2000 ‘The book I couldn’t put down’ for his best-selling book Shadow of the Minotaur. He was a judge of the 2001 Awards.

He has also been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 2001 and 2003 and
has won the Leicester Book of the Year Award, Leicester Junior School Book Award, Hackney Short Novel Award, the Angus Book Award, the Catalyst Book Award, the Salford Librarians Special Award, the Birmingham Chills Award, Salford KS4 Award and the Stockport Book Award. He has twice been shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Book Prize. His books have been published in Japanese, German, Italian, French, Thai, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Swedish and other languages.

(The Dutch edition of one of my football books).

Alan taught for eighteen years, working with KS1, KS2 and KS3. He has made numerous visits to schools and libraries, colleges and education conferences. He is a popular speaker at the Edinburgh Festival, the London Book Fair, the Northern Children’s Book Festival, the Hay-on-Wye Festival, the Cheltenham Festival and many others.

Pupils’ achievement is very good. This is due to the effective deployment of the talented Author in Residence, and the focused teaching of skills in dedicated writing lessons.

Ofsted Report on one of Alan’s schools

Alan has also appeared on the BBC Education programme Writer’s Block, the Blue Peter Book Awards, Radio 4’s Front Row, The Jeremy Vine Show, Simon Mayo’s programme, The World Tonight, BBC 24, Channel Four News and The Message programme. He is a regular contributor to TES, Junior Education, Carousel, Books for Keeps, The Teacher and other journals. Alan has written an occasional column for the Liverpool Echo. One of his stories was serialised in English Street, a supplement of the Hong Kong Economic Times. Alan is an Honorary fellow of the Librarians’ professional body CILIP.

Alan is a full time writer and independent educational consultant. He has
featured in the Book Trust’s Writing Together Initiative. In addition to
visiting 150 schools a year across the UK, Alan has spoken in the Channel
Islands, Spain, France, Cyprus, Switzerland, China, Thailand, Qatar, Norway, Ireland both North and South, Brazil, Bahrain, Malawi, Sudan, Kenya, Canada, Brunei and Holland.

There is a trailer for Alan’s latest book An Act of Love here:



To see Alan at work go to:


Or watch him on You Tube:


Alan is editor of Harper Collins Read On series for reluctant readers:


This trailer was made by a Canadian school student about Alan’s book Scared to Death:



Top author shares school’s book celebrations

(Me with a super lambanana at Blueberry Park school in Liverpool)

Getting the most out of the visit


*Alan Gibbons’ book The Dying Photo has been selected for the 2010-11 Year 7 Booked Up list.

*Alan Gibbons is a recommended author on the English KS3 list.

*Alan Gibbons is a recommended author on the SLA list of books for boys,

*Alan Gibbons has won a Blue Peter book award and six other awards and has twice been shortlisted for the Carnegie and Booktrust Teenage Prizes. His other shortlistings are too numerous to mention.

*Alan Gibbons has been author in residence in Knowsley, Hong Kong, Zurich, Wrexham, Stavanger, Surrey and Warrington, among others.

*Alan Gibbons has been an author in residence at the National Gallery.

*Alan Gibbons has had poetry on display at the National Football Museum.

*Alan Gibbons has visited many International Schools. These include establishments in China, Brazil, Norway, Bahrain, Spain, France and Cyprus, Kenya, Malawi, Thailand, France Brunei and many others.

*Alan Gibbons has teaching experience of Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 (ages 4-16) and has worked as a writer with Sixth Form, university students and teachers.


You are booking Alan Gibbons. How do you make the most out of the visit?


Clear objectives

Decide what your priorities are. Access to all is a good principle but it might not be possible to involve every child in the course of a single day. Success is all about priorities. Do you want Alan to work with the less able? If so, how much support will they need? Maybe it is better to concentrate on the gifted and talented or particular classes you have targeted, of mixed ability perhaps. Maybe one of Alan’s books is their class reader. Children who read for pleasure clearly tend to get more out of an author visit. Which genres do you want Alan to cover? Draw up a timetable that meets your needs. No two schools are the same.

What does Alan do?

Alan has three kinds of activity:

*Author talk. This involves Alan giving a 35-40 minute talk about his work, how he got started, themes, etc. There is no need for any equipment, though it might be an idea to have a laptop and projector in the hall to show Alan’s Blog and website. This activity is a session with plenty of anecdotes. There is then time for a 10-20 minute question and answer session and, if possible, book-signing. Total duration: 50-60 minutes. Obviously, it helps if the youngsters have read something by him and if there has been some discussion of the kind of issues they would like to discuss.

*Writing workshop

Alan has a bank of writing activities for KS1, 2 and 3. He will work on fiction, non-fiction or poetry. Some examples:

*A ghost story

*An adventure story

*A fantasy story

*A science fiction story

*Writing instructions


*Newspaper reports

*List poems

*Nature poetry

Alan looks at various features of text. In fiction this might be narrative tension, dialogue, description, characterisation or internal monologue. In poetry it might be line length, rhyme, assonance or rhythm. In non-fiction it might be addressing the reader directly, organising material, bullet pointing, etc. Sessions are usually 50 or 60 minutes but can be longer, particularly with more able pupils. Alan will tailor sessions to the particular needs of the group. There should always be a member of staff present. Amazingly, in spite of the current climate of strong attention to child protection, there are still one or two schools left who will leave a visitor to their own devices.

This works best with a laptop and projector, using Word, so Alan can model text to help the pupils develop their writing. Alan will publish some of the best work on his Blog:


You will find lots of examples on the Blog from the UK and overseas.

Teach Me textbooks

There are three textbooks to accompany and follow up Alan’s work with the youngsters. These feature an overview of the ‘scaffolding’ technique that underpins the books, diagrams, step-by-step instructions and samples of children’s work and are useful for follow up.

Order from:

Teach me to write fiction (Nash Pollock Publishers)

ISBN 1 898255 45 8. £12.99.

Teach me to write poetry (Nash Pollock Publishers)

ISBN 1 898255 46. £12.99.

Teach me to write non fiction (Nash Pollock Publishers)

ISBN 1 898255 47 4. £12.99.

Orders should be placed with:

Nash Pollock

PO Box 150



CW7 3WA.

Tel: 01606 836699

Fax: 01606 836655


Alan has led teacher-training sessions all over the UK, Africa, South America, Europe and the Far East, including the Times Educational Supplement conferences, countywide NLS training, Learning Works, YPO, Renaissance Learning, Collective Learning and the Writing Together conferences.

He leads sessions on:

*The literate classroom

*The trouble with boys

*Writing across the curriculum


What will it cost?

Alan’s charges are:

£500 a day plus VAT

£600 a day plus VAT if he has to stay overnight

Half day:

£300 plus VAT

£400 plus VAT if he has to stay overnight

Alan travels from home to Lancashire, Merseyside, Manchester, Cheshire, southern Cumbria, Flintshire and Denbighshire and does not require accommodation. Further afield, he will usually have to stay overnight and incur hotel costs.

If Alan is booked for a cluster of schools, staying in an area for more than one day, he will give a discount.

Alan is VAT registered.

International Schools

Given travel costs to destinations overseas, Alan is open to negotiation over fees in International Schools.

What can be done in advance of the visit?

*Introduce the pupils to Alan’s books.

*Discuss what kind of questions they would like to ask.

*Surf Alan’s website and Blog. Get in touch with him before the visit:





It is very frustrating for all concerned when youngsters traipse into the hall asking: “What are we here for and who’s that?

*Contact the press. It raises the profile of the school or library service.




Book-ownership is an important aspect of literacy. Organising an author visit without arranging book sales is only exploiting a small part of the opportunities it offers. Alan usually provides his own books and will provide you with materials to advertise the availability of books to purchase.

You can also order Alan’s books from your local provider or ask Waterstones, Peter’s, Askew’s and the many good quality independent bookshops (that urgently need support to survive and give an independent voice in the market) are usually helpful. Alan’s supplier is:


01235 827702

Alan will sign any copies sold. Alan also has a stock of adhesive book plates. If schools order after the event, he will post signed bookplates for readers.

It helps to have a rough idea of the number of books needed and to give somebody the job of collecting the money on the day so Alan can concentrate on signing and talking to the pupils.

It works best if the pupils are told well in advance that they need to bring money, then get a reminder the day before. Email Alan for templates of flyers: aagibbons@blueyonder.co.uk

A full list of Alan’s books, indicating rough age ranges, is on his website:


You will have to check whether some of the books published in the early Nineties, are still in print. The first book of the Hell’s Underground series, Scared to Death is available as are the sequels The Demon Assassin, Renegade and Witch Breed. His latest book An Act of Love was nominated for the Carnegie Medal.

Autographs are OK so long as it is youngsters with autograph books. Signing 200 scraps of paper doesn’t add much to the literacy experience and uses up time which could be more usefully employed. It also stops Alan getting any lunch!


Don’t forget the little details:

*Send directions a few days in advance. Alan’s car has satellite navigation so a postal address is usually enough. It does help to mention any particular difficulties of access e.g. a hidden turning or an entrance, which doesn’t match the postal address of the venue. What’s more, some bigger cities and towns have several roads with the same name. It helps to identify which one.

*Organise some lunch. Writers do eat even if it is only to chew the linoleum in their garret. Alan’s only dietary need is to avoid mayonnaise, Branston or Piccalilli in sandwiches! Long live the great British butty, not some freakish concoction slathered in gunk.

*Ensure sufficient staff are present. A handful of authors have been left alone with pupils. This is highly unprofessional. Teachers shouldn’t mark books during sessions. It sends a very poor message to the children. It is the sign of a good school that staff join in the activities rather than looking on in a detached manner. A reading child is a successful child and this is the National Year of Reading.

*Let Alan know when the cheque will be sent. Will it be ready on the day or is it going through the local authority? Is there an order number to be put on the invoice? Payment on the day is obviously preferable. Some LEAs are appallingly slow and can cause cash-flow problems. Writers have to answer to the VAT man! Easily the worst part of a self-employed author’s life is chasing late payments so please explain what is happening with payment before he has to enquire. Nobody likes to ask about money. Remember poor Andre Previn begging for payment on Morecambe and Wise!

*Have the kettle on. After a long drive, a nice cup of tea ensures an alert and contented writer. 

Publicity materials

Posters and show cards are available. Contact Orion Children’s Books.


When drawing up a timetable keep in mind that Alan will sometimes have a long drive home after the day in school. He will always arrive early and is proud of the fact that he has never been late since becoming a published writer in 1990. He has only ever postponed a visit due to family bereavements or serious illness. He takes the responsibility of providing a service seriously. If it is possible for him to get away before the end of the school day to beat the motorway jams, particularly in the congested South East, it would be appreciated. Being gridlocked on the M25 or M6 during the rush hour is hardly the most inspiring way to end a good day.


Alan is very accessible. If you have queries don’t hesitate to get in touch. Contact Alan as follows:

aagibbons@blueyonder.co.uk or mygibbo@gmail.com

Alan’s website is:


This contains book lists, interviews, an autobiography and a career resume.

His blog is:


A good follow up to the visit is to post children’s work, sent directly to the blog, or sent as an attachment through my website. It gives them an audience to showcase their talents.

If you want to see what can be done, go on to the Blog of Sudley Junior School in Liverpool:




Alan was a classroom teacher for eighteen years. Eleven years were with KS1, four years with KS2 and three years with KS3. He has an enhanced CRB certificate (disclosure number: 001066952748) and has indemnity insurance to the value of five million pounds. He is registered with the General Teaching Council and a member of the Society of Authors, the National Association of Writers in Education and the National Union of Teachers.

That doesn’t mean, because he has a teaching qualification, he should be used as glorified supply cover and left alone with 300 youngsters in the hall. (It has happened!)


Photographs and video: Alan has no objection. Why not post the photos on his Blog to raise the profile of the visit.


Here’s looking forward to a good day!




53 thoughts on “About me, my books and my school visits (mygibbo@gmail.com)

  1. hi me and my friend Lina would like to say that the book dying photo along side another books that you have published are like a book that when you read it you go into a magical but creepy world and the website is amazing thanks for read hope to hear from you soon

  2. Alan is a high profile advocate for children’s literacy and is greatly appreciated by them at home and abroad. He is dedicated to encouraging youngsters to read and create stories, is a staunch defender of school libraries and accessible community libraries and — As straight as a die — fearless in challenging those who care not. Not least, he’s a best-selling children’s author. What a star !

  3. Is it possible to join your campaign to keep libraries open? Aberdeen City Council keeps threatening to close numerous branch libraries. I went to the closing sale of one of them, and heard an elderly lady telling the librarian that she did not know what she would do without her visits to the library. Libraries provide social support as well as books. Not everyone can just hop in the car to go to another one, nor can they just buy the book instead.

    As a child in London, I was taken to the library every Friday by my hard-up parents; libraries opened, and continue to open, a whole new world for me – I have browsed, and read, books about all sorts of things that I would never otherwise have know about.

    I feel that the right of free access to books is fundamental, and that to deny it is to deny people the right to education.

  4. Rosemary,
    Absolutely. I hear so many stories like the one you have related. Our policy makers are risking the destruction of a major national institution. It really is a sick joke that they do not see literacy as central to the social life of this country.

  5. hi i was just wondering what type of book will be best for someone who likes horror books because you came to our school (the wavell school) and i was really inspired so i would like to find out ???

  6. Hi Brad,
    I would start with Scared to Death, the first novel in the Hell’s Underground series.

  7. Thank you for the show you put on yesterday at Rhyl library for the three classes from Ysgol Llywelyn. It was truely magnificent Diolch yn fawr.

    yours sincerely

    The three classes

  8. Dear Mr Alan Gibbons

    Thank you for the brilliant show you put on for us and making us all laugh it was the best laugh we’d had in a while. You also kept everyone interested and joyful. When we came out everyone was talking about how funny you were and how you kept us happy and near enough every person that didnt go said they would have loved to go. You even had the teachers laughing. Were looking forward to reading your books after you’ ve told us about them they sound brilliant you explained them so well, thanks again – diolch yn fawr
    Yours Sincerely

    Ysgol Llywelyn

  9. No problem. I love these events. I thought the students were brilliant. The staff were pretty cool too.

  10. Andrew,
    Not sure. It is on hold for a while as my next book, An Act of Love, is about the war on terror.

  11. hi alan i write the note from llywelyn and on monday asked u a question about your share of the money made by u for the books u write and i cant believe you only get 7 pence

  12. Hi Joshua,
    A bit of crossed wires. Seven pence would be too little. About 7.5% to 10% usually so maybe I get 60 p for each book sold.

  13. Hi Cameron,
    Sorry you think it is steep. I don’t set the price. My publishers do. That is the market rate just now. Computer games are dearer.

  14. Hi Alan
    Any idea when Book 5 from Hell’s Underground will be published? T’internet tells me nowt so I figured if anyone knew it would be you!

  15. Hi Nicolle,
    It is on hold at the moment for two years I’m afraid as I had two subjects for novels I wanted to do first. One is An Act of Love, out June 2nd. Then in 2012 there is Raining Fire. I am going to look at Hell’s Underground again then.

  16. Thanks for the speedy response Alan. I’ll look forward to it when it comes out and I’ll check out the others in between.
    Take care

  17. Hiya
    You came to my school Herschel Grammar in Slough a couple of weeks ago and did a workshop with year 7. We wrote stories and i think you said that you would put the best ones on you blog. Are you gonna?

  18. Hi Amy,
    Yes, definitely. As soon as you guys send me word-processed copies I will post them on one of the creative writing pages.
    Have you looked at the stuff other young people have written on the blog?
    Alan G

  19. Thanks for the fast response i’ve been checking wondering where it was!
    I’ve read most of the other pieces of work on here it’s really good.

  20. can there be a reunion of Netty, Tyrone and Moose for hells underground 5? If its on boudicca it should be called Blood Warrior because of the two gates, blood unlocks one of them…

  21. hi alan you came to my school llanishen high on the 7/7/11 did you enjoy your time there i have your book the one set in Afghanistan and im looking forward to reading it 🙂

  22. Hi Kyle,
    Yes, I love my school visits. Can’t promise on the name thing. I get asked the same question every day!

  23. hi,alan im haniaah and me and my sister salimah loves your books u visited our school called Highfields Primary School
    and we were the ones that presented your book called The Dying Photo . My favourite book was the Dying Photo and the illisterating was reallyyyy good . Look at the birdie hhahahaha we have some questions for u which is : If u had a chance to go and talk to the queen and tell her to read one book writen by u which book would it be ? If u had a chance to put your favourite 3 books in order then what would come 1st 2nd and 3rd

    p.s. i know your favourite book was shadow of the minatour

  24. Hi both,
    At the moment it would be my new book An Act of Love.
    1) An Act of Love
    2) The Edge
    3) Caught in the Crossfire.
    Have a great summer!

  25. Hello Mr Gibbons

    I am 4rm the school Highfields Primary School
    i saw my friends wrote 2 u aswell so i wanted to write to u
    i got inspired by your books your funny jokes made me laugh. I want t send you a piece of writing to your address will that be possible and if that is than hw can i do that

    p.s can you reply soon plzz

  26. hi alan

    i just wanted to know if i wanted to send u sumthing to u like
    a poem to ur house hw would i do that?

    if u think it is good could you try to publish it please!!!!!!

    i dnt mind if u publish my real name ill send u that with the poem/storie thank you

  27. Hi,
    Good to hear from you. I am glad you enjoy my books. Goodness knows where the ideas come from. The ideas are the easy bit. It is turning them into a 70,000 word book that is harder.
    If you want to send a poem for the writing pages of the blog, that’s fine.

  28. hiya alan
    i realy enjoy reading your books. i just wanted to ask if i wanted to write a book and publish it wer would i hv to send it ? could u plzz tell me the address as i would like to publish mine
    and do u hv to illistrate the books
    my dream is to publish a book and be a author if it gets published i enjoy reading books frm every author but your books inspire me the most thank yu
    p.s i need the address of the publishers

  29. Hi Haleema,
    Everything you need to know is in either of these two books:
    The Writing Handbook (Macmillan)
    The Writers and Artists Year Book (A&C Black)
    They list all the agents and publishers and tell you how to prepare a manuscript. A good public library has copies in the reference section.

  30. Aaisha,
    Published writers don’t pay to illustrate their work. In fact, the publishers pay you (though not that much!). The hard thing is persuading them you are good enough for them to publish you.
    There is a thing called vanity publishing and you do pay for that.

  31. I just finished reading witchbreed, having read all 4 books in a week which were amazing. I then came online to fin. The next book only to read you are not writing the next one for 2 years. I was so gutted I could cry, it was like watching an amazing movie then finding out you can’t know the ending for 2 years. Please please please change your mind about writing the next book as I seriously can not wait 2 years to know what happens to Paul. I don’t know how else to convince you that it is so important to your fans, we need to know what happens.
    Thank you for writing these amazing books, please don’t stop now. Truly an amazing series that I literally could not put down. Hope to read more soon.

  32. Ashlee,
    I would love to write some more, but a writer is only part of the team that produces a book. Your publisher has a big say too and they put up the money! At the moment I have a couple of more pressing projects. My latest An Act of Love about the war on terror is one. It demanded to be written. I am giving a great deal of thought to Hell’s Underground.

  33. Hey,
    your really cool and i can’t believe you flew all the way to Sudan to visit our school, thank you!

  34. Pingback: How to Add Tension to an Opening Scene – Alan Gibbons Reveals All « This Craft Called Writing

  35. Hello Mr Gibbons,
    I’ve tried to contact you about coming to my school and doing a writing workshop for KS3, but the email keeps bouncing back. Is there any chance you could contact me about a visit please?
    All the best,

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