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Andrew Norriss writes engaging stories about ordinary children who find themselves in extraordinary situations; stories that make you think what if…?

imageJessica’s Ghost is Longlisted for 2016 UKLA Book Award and Nominated for THE CILIP CARNEGIE MEDAL 2016

‘Witty and Wise
Jessica’s Ghost is both a hymn to the joys of “being different” and an earnest exploration of the serious traumas suffered by teenagers who are lucky enough, and unlucky enough, to be unconventional. The Guardian


Click on the books for Reviews & Synopses, Activity Sheets and Educational Resources


Friendship      Kindness      Hope      Humour      Adventure      Mystery      Family      Dogs      Aliens      Fun

Children’s TV series Matt’s Million, Bernard’s Watch, Aquila & Woof!

TV Sitcoms

The Brittas Empire, Chance in a Million, The Labours of Erica & Ffizz

“Thinking is more powerful than many people realise. It is what we think, after all, that shapes our lives and our world. You have to do something as well, of course, but it always starts with the thinking.” Andrew Norriss

Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of 2015


Delighted to see Friends for Life on this prestigious list!

Originally posted on Waking Brain Cells:

Publisher’s Weekly has released their list of the best books for 2015. These include books for preschoolers through young adults. Here are their picks:


The Day the Crayons Came HomeThe Dog That Nino Didn't HaveFinding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear

The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have by Edward van de Vendel, illustrated by Anton Van Hertbruggen

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Flutter and Hum / Aleteo y Zumbido: Animal Poems / Poemas de AnimalesHomeThe King and the Sea

Flutter & Hum: Animal Poems by Julie Paschkis

Home by Carson Ellis

The King and the Sea by Heinz Janisch, illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch

Last Stop on Market StreetLenny & LucyLeo: A Ghost Story

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Lenny & Lucy by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson

The Night WorldThe Only ChildThe Princess and the Pony

The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein

The Only Child by Guojing

The Princess and the…

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Was Gordon Wellesley Brittas a 20th Century Don Quixote?


Was Gordon Wellesley Brittas a 20th century Don Quixote? Brilliant article and really funny and clever video compilation illustrating the possibility. I’m not sure that Andrew Norriss and Richard Fegen were aware of the idea when they were writing the series, but it certainly rings true here, and is poignant…

Originally posted on Divine Varod:

CK12l2PWUAE0Iwl“There is either the maddest wise man or the wisest mad man in the world”

For many, many years I’ve been a fan of the story of “Don Quixote” the “Man from La Mancha” ever since I heard the songs from the 1964 musical performed on a TV show in the late 1980’s. Getting older I understood the song lyrics true meaning and became gripped by the story itself. The story written by Miguel de Cervantes between 1605 and 1615 was both satire and tragedy rolled into one. The sad tale of a man valiantly trying to do good but failing every time, unaware others see him as a joke. Oblivious of being mocked and despised even when it is done to his face.

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To Plan or not to Plan…

Andrew Norriss Guest Blog for Young Writers on Monday 9th March 2015

To Plan or not to Plan…

The actress Sarah Miles has a story of how she wanted to find out what her husband actually did when he disappeared off to his study for hours each day. He was Robert Bolt (world famous screenwriter) and she knew he was busy ‘writing’ but… what did that involve exactly?

So she got a ladder, climbed up to the window of his room on the first floor, and peered in. There he was, sitting at the table with his typewriter, and she watched as he typed for a bit, then stopped, pulled the paper out of the machine, screwed it up and threw it in the bin. He put in fresh paper, typed a bit… then took it out and threw it away. She stayed there half an hour and that was what he did. Again, and again.

I could have told her that’s what she’d see. Because that’s how I spend most of my day. Except I have a computer and a delete button instead of paper and a bin. It’s how all writers work. They write stuff, look at it, throw it away, and then write it again. And again. And again…

It always makes me laugh, when I see a ‘writer’ in some Hollywood movie sit down, type the words ‘Chapter One’ and just start bashing away until they’ve done 500 pages which they send round to a grateful publisher. I mean… that’s not how it works! A book has to be constructed. Before you start, you need a story arc, you need to know who your characters are, you need to know how your main theme will build to a final crisis, you need… you need a plan!

At least, that’s what I thought.

It was only when I started meeting other writers that I discovered there were some – not many, but some – who did no planning at all. They had an idea and, just like in the movies, they sat down and wrote, blindly trusting that their intuition would lead them through the narrative to a satisfying conclusion.

Listening to them talk, I was intrigued enough to think that it might be worth trying it myself, just to see what happened. I had had this idea about a girl – I called her Jessica – slowly realising that the reason everyone is ignoring her is that she’s dead. I had no idea how she’d died or what was going to happen to her, but… what would happen if, instead of working out a plan, I just started writing?

So I did. I sat down each day and pretty much wrote whatever came into my head. No planning, no story arc, no worrying where this whole thing might be going…

And the weird thing was that it worked. Sort of. The story that came out is pretty much the one you can read in Jessica’s Ghost and… and I liked it. In fact, I thought it was rather good.

…The only trouble was, it was very badly written.

Which is why, if anyone had peered in through the window while I was working on the umpteenth draft of Jessica’s Ghost, they would have seen me, sitting at my computer, writing for bit, then deleting it, and then doing the same thing again.

And again.

And again.


Many thanks to Young Writers for originally hosting this piece as part of the Jessica’s Ghost Blog Tour. Do have a look at their brilliant website which has advice, resources, recommended books, author interviews and encouragement for writers of all ages, and teachers and parents too.

Edoardo, Edwin and Oswald…

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Edoardo, Edwin and Oswald…

EdwinOswald by Edoardo AlbertEdoardo-Albert1

I am a writer’s wife and one of the roles I have taken upon myself is to check online for any mentions of the writer, and that is how I discovered the wonderful writing of Edoardo Albert. I found Edoardo’s reviews of my writer’s books on Goodreads. They were so perceptive and beautifully written with wit, wisdom and originality. In particular my writer was astounded that Edoardo described exactly the way he writes (’with not a single spare word – achieved by boiling the word stew down until only the strongest broth remains’), and picked out the very essence of the story that he had wanted to convey. With delicious serendipity, by passing on our thanks and appreciation to Edoardo via Twitter, a connection was made and we were fortunate enough to discover Edwin and Oswald, Books 1 & 2 in The Northumbrian Thrones Series.

I have to admit to some trepidation when Edoardo generously sent us copies of Edwin and Oswald. We know many writers and I try to read their books, but mostly they are not the style of story or writing that I enjoy and so I keep quiet and have certainly never attempted to write a review. Imagine my relief and great delight when I started Edwin and loved it from the very first paragraph. I immediately felt at home and in safe hands. This was a writer I could trust; beautifully told stories that are so readable; the barest descriptions bringing alive another time and place; characters who feel so real. Without any emotional manipulation I cared about the lives of people from long ago and on occasion wept. Edoardo has the gift, as my writer does too, of writing without long descriptions and yet making pictures in my head. I don’t understand how they do it but it works. I admit to images from Game of Thrones appearing in my head when reading Oswald!

Edwin and Oswald are the best historical fiction; wonderful stories that give a complete view of life in those early times including religion, and the gradual change in beliefs and values. Christianity which has played such a large part in our history is subtly integrated as a natural part of people’s lives. I found it most interesting to read about its introduction and the effect it had on people’s lives and thinking. Oswald is such an interesting character as he wrestles with convention, family and tribal expectations, and the growing feeling that there might better way to live and rule. Beautifully done.

When I got to the end of Edwin in a very short time I was just so pleased to have Oswald to hand. Bernard Cornwall said Edwinleaves the reader wanting more’, and I would add so does Oswald! The only thing that could have made these books better is if there were more of them and I look forward to Oswiu, Book 3 in The Northumbrian Thrones Series in the future.

Edoardo Albert has a great gift for words and story telling that I could never begin to emulate
so enough of me,
go and read his books. They are a real treat. @thewriterswife

Buy the books

My review of Edwin

My review of Oswald

Goodreads Reviews of Edwin and Oswald

Edoardo Albert’s Website

Lion Hudson PLC

Anglo-Saxon and Viking Northumbria

Goodreads: Edoardo Albert’s reviews of Andrew Norriss’s books, works of art in themselves…

Jessica’s Ghost:So, let’s start a review of Andrew Norriss’s new book by talking about Alan Garner. Yes, that Alan Garner -‘
The Unluckiest Boy in the World: ‘Andrew Norriss is, in fact, The Unluckiest Author in the World. In any sane society a writer who consistently produces such unfailingly delightful books for children would be lauded and applauded, hailed…’
Ctrl-Z: ‘If, in the immortal words of Cher, I could turn back time, what would I do?’
Aquila: ‘Wonderful story. Two boys – united by friendship and a determination to pass through school entirely unnoticed -‘
Aquila 2: ‘Tom and Geoff’s adventures with Aquila, the Denebian escape pod they discovered in the first book, continue.’
The Portal  ‘I’ve now read six of Andrew Norriss’s books and I think I know what his work is about: every story I’ve read has been a drama of the good.’

Edoardo, Edwin and Oswald…


Click on this link Oswald Blog Tour Poster to see a larger clearer version and you will find me on Saturday! I am honoured and don’t feel up to the task but I shall do my best. I shall reveal more anon…

Visits from the Black Dog

By Andrew Norriss

Back in the days when I had regular visits from the Black Dog – the phrase Churchill used to describe his occasional bouts of depression – what really pigged me off was the lack of any objective reason for it all. If I had been in chronic pain, or unjustly imprisoned, you could understand it, but I faced nothing like that. In fact one of the worst bouts came when, on any rational basis, I appeared to have everything I had ever wanted. It is called, I am told, ‘endogenous depression’. Depression without any apparent cause.

Alan Garner, in a brilliant essay on the subject, describes how he was overcome one day by ‘the blankness of me and the blankness of the world’ and then spent two years, twelve hours a day, lying curled up on the settle in his kitchen, unable to do… anything. I remember my sense of guilty relief on reading that. How reassuring it was to know that others had been through something even worse than my own experience, and yet survived.

A lot of people go through life without ever meeting the Black Dog, but many of us get to know him all too well. It can start at an early age and is, I am told, affecting an increasing number of children in today’s pressured society. Not that I’d want to use it as a topic in any of my books of course, any more than Alan Garner did. I mean… who’d want to read a book about being depressed?

Andrew NorrissAnd then, to my considerable surprise, this was exactly what turned out to be a theme in Jessica’s Ghost. I hope that doesn’t put anyone off, because it’s not as grim as it sounds. If all I had done was express the thought that life can be a bit of a bugger at times, my story would not have been one I wanted to read myself. But, fortunately, my characters were smart enough to find a way out of the abyss and the book is mostly about how they did it.

You don’t have to be an expert on mental health to know there are no slick and easy answers to the problem of depression, but there do seem to be a few consistent signposts to the rescue ladder. One of them is the power of loving friendship. Alan Garner describes how his children would gently stroke the back of his neck as they passed through the kitchen. In my case, the rock on which I rested was my wife. With the young people in my story it’s the support they give each other because they’ve all been to the same dark places and know what it’s like.

It also helps to know that the clouds will not last forever. This may be difficult to believe at the time, but moods are like the weather and the sunshine will one day return. As it did for me. And as it did for Alan Garner, who woke one day to find his depression had vanished as mysteriously as it had arrived. And that is what he reminds himself, when he hears the ‘tinkle of ice bergs’ heralding its possible return. That the mood will pass.

It’s important to remember that.

It will pass.

Published in The Bookseller April 20, 2015.

Jessica's Ghost by Andrew Norriss

Oswald by Edoardo Albert

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Oswald by Edoardo Albert

Oswald by Edoardo Albert

Oswald is the second book in the series The Northumbrian Thrones. After the death of Edwin, who slew his father, the young prince Oswald seeks to regain the throne.

Oswald is a tremendously good read!

Having read and enjoyed Edoardo Albert’s book Edwin: High King of Britain I am delighted to say that, Oswald: Return of the King (Book 2 in The Northumbrian Thrones series) is just as good. These beautifully written stories bring to life a period of history of which I knew nothing in a most convincing manner. I feel enriched by reading these books and am left wanting to know more of the time and the area.

As Oswald is the second in the series it is probably best to read Edwin first but it is not essential as there is an excellent explanation of ‘events so far’. I also really appreciate the dramatis personae, glossary and author’s notes all of which go to make this a most satisfying book.

This is not dry or worthy history but the story of people’s lives, loves and families, feuds, battles and power struggles, based in fact and full of atmosphere. I love this style of writing – the minimum description necessary to convey a convincing world. Life then is simple in many ways compared to ours and yet so complicated when it comes to land, gods and gold – much as now I suppose… As with Edwin I got the feeling that if a time machine took me back there I would recognise my surroundings and have a good idea of how to behave, eat dress, talk. I can see it all clearly in my head but without having had long detailed descriptions to plough through.

I have read many books over the years and become an increasingly fussy reader. I rarely find books now that completely draw me in as Edwin and Oswald have. I don’t like emotional manipulation or contrived tension in books and Oswald had neither, but there was one section in particular that left me almost breathless with excitement and unable to stop reading until I knew the outcome. How extraordinary that it is possible to care about the people and outcome of distant historical events!

As a Christian I was interested to read about the early days of Christianity in these Isles which is so subtly written as an integral part of the history and lives that I can happily recommend Oswald to our devoutly atheist son. He won’t feel preached at in any way and it might help him to understand the appeal of Christianity and the impact that it had and has on some people’s lives without trying to convert him.

Spoiler Alert! It is tempting to go online for pictures and more info about people and places but I recommend waiting until the end of the book. I looked up someone only to find how and when they died before I got to that part of the story and wished I hadn’t!

I am pleased to see that there will be a third book Oswiu, in The Northumbrian Thrones series, and although I’d really like to read it now, I hope the publisher isn’t tempted to rush it out before the author has time to write it to his satisfaction. As a writer’s wife I know that a good book needs time to write and redraft in order to get to the best it can be. I am happy to wait until Oswiu is as excellent as Edwin and Oswald.

My review of Edwin

Edoardo, Edwin and Oswald

Edoardo Albert’s Website

Goodreads Reviews

Visit Northumberland

Lion Press

Anglo-Saxon and Viking Northumbria

Buy from Amazon, Wordery, LoveReading


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