About me

If you need a succinct biog for a conference or whatever, feel free to use this one and/or to use any of the info in the bullet points below it. Anyone is also welcome to use either photo on this page.

“Nicola Morgan is an award-winning author of nearly 100 books, including the Young Adult novels Wasted, Fleshmarket (currently being adapted for the London stage), Mondays are Red and The Passionflower Massacre, and the renowned book on the teenage brain, Blame My Brain.  She speaks internationally on the subjects of adolescence (teenage brain, behaviour and stress) and the reading brain, and she is now writing The Teenage Guide to Stress. She also writes and speaks about the publishing industry. Her book, Write to be Published, and blog, Help! I Need a Publisher!, are renowned for clarity and honesty – in fact, she’s known as the Crabbit Old Bat because of this honesty! - as are the ebooks Write a Great Synopsis and Dear Agent. She also successfully self-publishes. Nicola is on the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group committee of the Society of Authors, is a former chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland and was one of the 50 international authors invited to take part in the World Writers’ Conference.”

Some details and dates:

  • Born in 1961 in a boys’ boarding school.
  • Educated in boys’ boarding schools – my father was a prep school headmaster. He taught me English and French; my mother taught me maths and science. A very terrifying person taught me history, geography and wrestling. Another one taught me Latin and Greek. I taught myself survival.
  • Cambridge University 1979-82 – read Classics and Philosophy.
  • English teacher in London, later specialising in specific learning difficulties (dyslexia).
  • Started Magic Readers in 1994, which became the website The Child Literacy Centre, which I ran single-handedly, without funding. I stopped this in 2009, as it was taking more time than I had.
  • Many (100s) articles published in magazines, especially for DC Thomson, mostly about health and education.
  • First books published were Egmont’s I Can Learn series – category best-sellers and still in high demand. Also twelve Thomas the Tank Engine titles.
  • First novel – Mondays are Red, published by Hodder 2002. Now republished as an ebook.
  • Chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland 2006-2009. Committee from 2003-2009.
  • Many events performed at Edinburgh International Book Festival and elsewhere.
  • Founder of the concept of Fair Reading.
  • Founder of the Complementary World Book Night idea.
  • Main awards: Scottish Children’s Book of the Year (twice); nominated for the Carnegie Medal; winner of the RED award; winner of the Coventry award; runner-up for the North East Book Award; American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults; shortlisted for the Aventis Prize for Science and many others.
  • Ambassador for Dyslexia Scotland.
  • Currently on the committee of the Society of Authors Children’s Writers and Illustrators’ Group.

Main titles in chronological order:

Mondays are Red, Fleshmarket, Sleepwalking, The Passionflower Massacre, Blame My Brain, The Leaving Home Survival Guide, Chicken Friend, Know Your Brain, The Highwayman’s Footsteps, The Highwayman’s Curse, Deathwatch, Wasted, Write to be Published, Tweet Right, Write a Great Synopsis, Dear Agent.

The Teenage Guide to Stress coming in 2014.

Nicola Morgan_optMORE DETAILED BIOGRAPHY

My Odd Childhood

The oddness of my childhood began on 11th November 1961, the day I was born: in a school. My parents lived in the school and presumably thought it was a perfectly sensible place to have a baby. We moved several times in my childhood, always to schools. My father was a headmaster. In fact, he was my headmaster, teaching me English and French while my mother taught maths and science. All that is odd enough, but what was odder was that they were boys’ schools and I am, I assure you, not a boy.

It was a childhood of huge freedom. The schools were in the country, so in the holidays my sisters and I had free run of amazing facilities and endless countryside. I spent my days climbing trees, building rafts, making bows and arrows, and riding my pony in the woods.

At 11, I went to a girls’ boarding school. Strangely, no-one there was at all impressed by my tree-climbing or weapon-making skills.

University

I did Classics and Philosophy at Cambridge. Philosophy was the best bit – endless discussions about meanings, and meanings of meanings.

Work

It was all very well being trained to discuss meanings of meanings but exactly how was it going to earn me a living? I desperately wanted to write but I also knew I had to have a ‘proper job’ to tide me through the rejection letters.

I became a teacher. I taught English in such a small school that I was the whole English department. This school led me into the world of children with reading difficulties like dyslexia. I did a Diploma in teaching people with reading and writing problems, and when my daughters were young I was able to combine motherhood with teaching from home.

Through this work, I became interested in how all children learn to read and over the next few years I created and ran Magic Readers. Groups of pre-school children came to my house to have fun with all sorts of pre-reading activities.  By 1999, I’d had quite a few home-learning books published and my writing was becoming successful. Soon I stopped teaching altogether. Magic Readers became The Child Literacy Centre, which I ran for many years before my writing took over completely.

My first novel for teenagers, Mondays are Red, was published in 2002, and over the next few years I wrote a number of novels and non-fiction books, mostly for teenagers but some for younger children. I have written around ninety books altogether, including Thomas the Tank Engine books and the best-selling UK home learning series, I Can Learn.

I’ve also written hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles for adults.

Over the years, I’ve been on lots of award shortlists and have won a few, including the Scottish Children’s Book of the Year for Sleepwalking in 2005 and for Wasted in 2011. Wasted was also nominated for the Carnegie Medal and was on many shortlists, winning three awards. I’ve also written non-fiction for adults: Write to be Published, Tweet Right – The Sensible Person’s Guide to Twitter, Dear Agent and Write a Great Synopsis.

I live in Edinburgh but also have a flat in London. I am married with two grown-up daughters. Very sadly, my gorgeous yellow Labrador, Amber, died in 2012. She is very much missed.

Some random facts:

  • I used to go to an all boys’ school.
  • I have one leg longer than the other.
  • I have had one jaw-joint removed.
  • I do press-ups every day. Well, nearly every day.
  • I used to be a professional cook.
  • Each time I have a new book contract, I buy new boots. I am a bit obsessed by boots.
  • I am hopeless at maths and useless with left and right. In fact, I come out as dyslexic on tests.
  • I hate slugs and frogs.
  • I hate my hand-writing and always use a computer.
  • I like change, adventure and the future.
  • I am addicted to the internet and emails.
  • Somebody once tried to abduct me (and my dog…).
  • I can gut fish, use an electric drill, tile a bathroom, put up shelves, and once made a mosaic table.
  • I cannot use my hands at the same time as talking, so I can’t drive, make tea, type or put make-up on unless I stop talking. Seriously.
  • I have been knocked unconscious twice after falling off a horse.
  • The most difficult writing I ever did was some Thomas the Tank Engine books.

If you would like to interview me, in person, by phone or email, please contact me or my publicist, Louise Kelly: m.l.louise.kelly@gmail.com

CURRENTLY WRITING: The Guide to Teenage Stress - publishing summer 2014