Gillian Cross - Author Picture

Gillian Cross - Author

Gillian Cross has won numerous literary prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, the Whitbread Children’s Novel Award (now the Costa), and the Smarties Prize.

“Books have always been an important part of my life. As a child, I spent a lot of time writing stories, or acting them out with my friends. I write because I love telling stories and finding out about things. My stories don't have 'messages', but I like to write about people in difficult and dangerous situations. I'm interested in how they cope and the decisions they make.”

I was born near London, on Christmas Eve 1945. I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read, and books have always been an important part of my life. As a child, I spent a lot of time writing stories, or acting them out with my friends.

Then I went to Oxford, to study English, and met my husband, Martin. We got married when we were both twenty one, had a baby son, Jon, and lived in a village outside Oxford in a cottage next door to an old-fashioned bakery. I used to help the baker twice a week. Jon came too. He sat on the floor and played while I kneaded the dough.

Ever since then, I’ve had a happy time looking after my family and writing. Martin and I now have four children – Anthony was born in 1984 and Katy was born in 1985. We’ve moved a couple of times and at the moment we’re living in a beautiful village in Warwickshire. When I’m not writing, I orienteer (like everyone else in the family), play the piano (very badly) and edit the Parish Magazine.

I've done quite a lot of travelling abroad to speak about my books. I've been to Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Brazil, Australia and Mexico, among other places. Wherever I go, I like to talk to people (of course) and to look at paintings and sculptures.

Praise for Gillian Cross and her novels:

‘Genuinely moving’ Times Educational Supplement
‘A winner’ Carousel
‘Taut and beautifully written’ Mail on Sunday
‘a tour de force’ Financial Times
‘Exciting, fast-moving and brilliant.’ Lancs County Library Children’s Book of the Year Reviews
‘Packed with tension and drama’ Books for Keeps
‘Outstanding’ The Scotsman
‘Believable, emotive, captivating, interesting and very enjoyable’ In Brief

A Q & A with Gillian Cross.

It's hard to say where my ideas come from. I usually get a picture of a place or a person. Sometimes I get a tiny little scene in my mind - very short, like the trailers you see on television. There's never very much of an idea to start with, just a little snippet and a very strong feeling that it can grow into a story. Then I ask myself lots of questions about the characters, and I find out what happens by starting to write the story down. I hardly ever know the whole story before I start writing the book.

Yes, I earn quite a good amount of money from writing, but I never know how much it's going to be. Every time someone buys one of my books, some of the money (around 7 per cent) goes to me. The publishers collect up all that money and pay it over to me twice a year. And in April, I add the whole lot up and find out how much I've earned that year.

The first book I ever wrote was called Such a Nice Girl - and it was terrible. But I learned two important things from writing it. The first was that I could get to the end of a book, and the second was that I liked writing books better than almost anything else. So I went on doing it and, in due course, I wrote The Runaway, which was my first published book.

No, I never base my characters on real people - not on purpose at least. If I did I would find it very hard to make anyone in my books do anything bad - in case the real person was cross about it. And anyway, it's much more fun to make people up. But sometimes, I find I've made a character a bit like a real person by mistake.

My main hobbies are playing the piano (very badly!) and orienteering, which involves finding your way round forests with a map, and running as hard as you can. I also like swimming and gardening, though I don't have much time for those. I read lots and lots, as well.

I haven't really got a favourite book - because I have so many. I always seem to be discovering wonderful new things to read. But one book which has always been among my favourites is 'The Secret Garden' by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

I haven't got a favourite out of my own books, I've had good fun writing all of them - but the best one is always the one I'm writing NOW.

I've got two main tips. First, tell the story as well as you can. If you get to the end and you can see things that are wrong - go back and put them right. There's no point in rewriting for the sake of it, but you're very lucky if you get everything right first time. I usually have to rewrite a book three or four times. 
The second tip is - have fun! If you don't have a good time while you're writing, how can you expect readers to enjoy themselves? (But that doesn't mean telling jokes all the time, of course. You can enjoy being sad or serious too.)

9. How long does it take you to write a book?
It usually takes me between five and nine months to write a book, depending on the length. In that time I rewrite it three or four times, and I've always spent quite a long time thinking about it before I start.

If you like Gillian Cross you might also like to read books by Malorie Blackman.

Featured Books, with extracts, by Gillian Cross

Amber's Song
Gillian Cross - illustrated by Marta Kissi
From the author of The Demon Headmaster and other classics of contemporary children's literature comes a story of how working together can bring a peaceful solution no matter how much discord there is! Mark has a new baby sister, who...
Lovereading Price: £4.79 - Saving £1.20 (20%) Featured in: 9+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 15/04/2016
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Mozart's Banana
Gillian Cross - illustrated by Richard Morgan
Interest Age 7-12 Reading Age 7+ The best-selling author of The Demon Headmaster tells a thrilling and funny story about the taming of a wild horse. Mozart's Banana is a horse who is a daft as his name. Even Sammy...
Lovereading Price: £4.79 - Saving £1.20 (20%) Featured in: 7+ readers | 9+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 01/07/2014
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The Mystery of the Man with the Black Beard
Gillian Cross - illustrated by Peter Cottrill
Interest Age 8-12 Reading Age 8+ The best-selling author of The Demon Headmaster tackles mystery and sleuthing in this exciting story about a missing dad. Annie's dad is a Crime Buster; he is always following clues and solving mysteries. But...
Lovereading Price: £4.79 - Saving £1.20 (20%) Featured in: 7+ readers | 11+ readers | 9+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 15/03/2014
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The Cupcake Wedding
Gillian Cross - illustrated by Nina de Polonia
Interest Age 8 - 12 Reading Age 7+ Best-selling Gillian Cross tells a funny and touching wedding story. Holly's sister Mia and her boyfriend James are only 19 but they are sure they want to get married. Holly's mum and dad are...
Lovereading Price: £4.79 - Saving £1.20 (20%) Featured in: 9+ readers | 11+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 24/06/2013
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After Tomorrow
Gillian Cross
Winner of The Little Rebels Children's Book Award 2014 - Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2014 - Shortlisted for the Leeds Book Awards 2014, 11-14 age category & Longlisted for the 2013 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize Award winning Gillian Cross...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers | 13+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 04/04/2013
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The Monster Snowman
Gillian Cross - illustrated by Ross Collins
Interest Age 8-12 Reading Age 7+ Jack and his friends build the greatest, scariest snowman in the whole world - until it comes alive! An entertaining and clever story by an award- winning author and illustator, Ross Collins. Also suitable...
Lovereading Price: £4.79 - Saving £1.20 (20%) Featured in: 7+ readers | 9+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 05/11/2012
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The Great Elephant Chase
Gillian Cross
Prize-winning author Gillian Cross tells a wonderful adventure of how two children and an elephant travel across America trying to escape the clutches of a rapacious crook, who is determined to get his hands on the creature at almost any...
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Format: Paperback | Released 05/08/2010
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The Dark Behind the Curtain
Gillian Cross
Spine tingling from start to finish, this brilliant book is shot through with menace before reaching a hugely satisfying conclusion. Colin gets mixed up in the school play by accident. In trouble for something else, doing the play is meant...
Lovereading Price: £4.79 - Saving £1.20 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 01/07/2010
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Calling a Dead Man
Gillian Cross
A tense thriller set against a frozen background of Siberia. Two girls set out to uncover the mystery surrounding the apparent death of John Cox. Finding his mobile, they begin a deadly dangerous mission to find their missing friend.
Lovereading Price: £6.39 - Saving £1.60 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 06/05/2010
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Where I Belong
Gillian Cross
Prize-winning author Gillian Cross tells a nail biting and fascinating story that'll make readers think hard about how the lives of individuals connect and the wide ranging impacts they can have. Told in the voices of three teenagers who become...
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Format: Paperback | Released 01/04/2010
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Facing the Demon Headmaster - 6
Gillian Cross
Dinah and her friends eagerly enter the competition to find out all they can about the mysterious D.J. Pardoman who is making their club so popular. When Dinah does some research she finds out the scary truth. Will she be...
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Format: Paperback | Released 04/02/2010
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The Demon Headmaster Takes Over - 5
Gillian Cross
Dinah, Lloyd and Harvey thought the Demon Headmaster was gone for good, so when they move back to their old house everything seems safe at first. Then strange things start to happen. Libraries are closing down, the internet keeps crashing,...
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Format: Paperback | Released 04/02/2010
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Revenge of the Demon Headmaster - 3
Gillian Cross
Dinah and her friends try to get to the bottom of the new trend sweeping the school. Everyone seems to have gone crazy for Hunky Parker but why? Can SPLAT break the trend and keep the school safe?
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Format: Paperback | Released 06/08/2009
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Demon Headmaster Strikes Again - 4
Gillian Cross
Dinah and her friends hope they have escaped the demon headmaster when they move villages but when some very unusual things begin to happen, Dinah feels sure that the Demon headmaster is not as far away as she would like...
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Format: Paperback | Released 06/08/2009
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Wolf
Gillian Cross
This Carnegie prize-winning title brilliantly tells a spine-chilling thriller of contemporary terrorists interwoven with an understanding of it through the story of Red Riding Hood. Cassie draws on the fairy story as a way of dealing with the dangerous uncertainties...
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Format: Paperback | Released 03/04/2008
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The Nightmare Game -The Lost Trilogy book 3
Gillian Cross
The Lost trilogy concludes with a powerful drama in the real world that has serious repercussions in the miniature world which Rob also inhabits. Rob has to work hard to keep everyone while also trying to work out why the...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 05/07/2007
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The Black Room - The Lost Trilogy book 2
Gillian Cross
This, the second part of the Lost trilogy tells how Rob moves between his old, full-size life and his new tiny one. Both are full of dangers and Rob has to show great courage in both in two stories with...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 05/07/2007
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The Dark Ground - The Lost Trilogy book 1
Gillian Cross
Full of suspense, this is an edgy fantasy thriller in which a boy has to learn to survive in an alien world when he finds himself reduced to a tiny size and abandoned in the forest. While others forget their...
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Format: Paperback | Released 07/04/2005
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The Demon Headmaster - 1
Gillian Cross
One of the great characters of children's books, the Demon Headmaster rules his school with his sea-green eyes through which he hypnotises the pupils. When Dinah arrives she sets up SPLAT, a group designed to protect the pupils from the...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 9+ readers | 7+ readers
Format: Paperback (b Format) | Released 03/06/2004
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The Demon Headmaster and the Prime Minister's Brain - 2
Gillian Cross
The story of how Dinah and her friends work against the Demon Headmaster continues as a new computer game arrives in the school and seems to take over the pupils. Even Dinah finds herself trapped in accessing the Prime Ministers...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 9+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 03/06/2004
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