All About Brian Conaghan
I was born and raised in the Scottish town of Coatbridge but now live in Dublin. I studied at the University of Glasgow and gained, among other things, a Master of Letters in Creative Writing.
I wasn’t destined to become an author. I left school at the age of sixteen to take up an apprenticeship in painting and decorating with my local authority. After a few years spent up and down ladders on construction sites, I decided to return to college in an attempt to gain my secondary school qualifications. Following an intense two-year combination of work and study, I received enough grades to further his education and discovered an enduring passion for books, writing and drama.
After university I co-founded Vanishing Point Theatre Company, where my creative flame was ignited; I tried my hand at acting, deejaying and teaching. I taught secondary school English in Scotland, Italy and Ireland for a number of years and in my early thirties I began to write fiction, accumulating a healthy pile of rejection letters before finding a publisher and an agent. I finally hung up his duster in 2013 to embark on a full-time writing career.
My first novel The Boy Who Made it Rain was published in 2011. Followed by, When Mr Dog Bites, published in 2014 in the UK and the USA, and has been translated into ten languages. It was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 2015, attracting both praise and controversy for its honest, moving and humorous depiction of a teenage boy with Tourette’s syndrome. The Bombs That Brought Us Together was published in 2016 to critical acclaim and won the Costa Children’s Book Award. I also co-authored, with Carnegie Medal winner Sarah Crossan, the verse novel, We Come Apart, published in February 2017. My new novel, The Weight Of A Thousand Feathers will be published in 2018.
Brian is a fully qualified and registered secondary school teacher with over 10 years of classroom experience.
He is also a senior examiner with the International Baccalaureate Organisation.
Check out more:
‘When Mr Dog Bites’
Dylan Mint has Tourette’s. His life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in – the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that seems to escape whenever he gets stressed. But a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mum, Dylan discovers that he’s going to die in March. So he makes a list of things he must do before he dies: first, he wants to have real sex with gorgeous Michelle Malloy; second, he’s got to find his autistic best friend Amir a new best bud; third, he’s got to get his dad back home from the army so they can say goodbye properly. It’s not a long list, but it’s ambitious, and he doesn’t have much time. Sometimes you’ve just got to go for it – no holding back – and see what happens . . .
“Beautifully observed and hilariously uncomfortable” – The Guardian
“An outstanding book, packed with energy and a brilliant distinctive voice” – Bookseller
“It’s the F-word – funny, foul-mouthed, fantastic!” Charlie Higson
‘The Bombs That Brought Us Together’
Fourteen-year-old Charlie Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the people who run Little Town. When he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. Then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country, and Little Town changes for ever.
Sometimes, to keep the people you love safe, you have to do bad things. As Little Town’s rules crumble, Charlie is sucked into a dangerous game. There’s a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his dearest enemy.
Charlie Law wants to keep everyone happy, even if it kills him. And maybe it will …
“A clever, entertaining and engaging piece of writing … very carefully composed and gradually seducing its readers with its sense of fun, detail and, as appropriate, seriousness.” – Robert Dunbar, Irish Times
“This accomplished new novel establishes him as a major talent. It’s incredibly powerful and thought-provoking on big issues such as nationalism, war and refugees, and poses some challenging moral questions. It’s also brilliantly funny with characters that you will really root for.” – Editor’s Choice, Bookseller
“I loved When Mr Dog Bites and have been wondering what he would do next. And it’s utterly different. But equally remarkable …” – Bookbag
‘We Come Apart.’
Authors Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan have joined forces to tell the story of Nicu and Jess, two troubled teens whose paths cross in the unlikeliest of places.
Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess’s home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship slowly blossoms into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and their hope and dreams of a better future. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?
This illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they’ve finished.
“Consummately crafted, where the position of each word on the page is as important as its meaning.” The Sunday Times
“This beautifully crafted novel has genuine joy at its heart for the light and hope that friendship can bring in a chaotic, unpredictable world.” The Guardian
“Spanning immigration, xenophobia, arranged marriage, domestic violence, anti-social behaviour and more, this is a star-crossed love story of heart-rending clarity. It doesn’t shy from the inevitable denouement but somehow, hope is always front and centre. I loved it.” The Bookbag
Awards and Nominations
When Mr Dog Bites
Carnegie Medal (2015)
Children’s Books Ireland
Lancashire Book Award
Peters Book Of The Year
The Bombs That Brought Us Together
Carnegie Nominated (2016)
Winner: Costa Children’s Book Award (2016)
Brian’s School Visits.
Brian offers the following options as part of his school visits, but is happy to discuss specific requirements with the school beforehand.
School Visit Activities
- Whole school or individual class talk about the journey of reluctant reader to award winning writer
- Focus on specific novels I have written
- Creative Writing workshops with bespoke lessons tailored to curriculum
- Devising dialogue through drama workshop
- How creativity works; thinking/acting/writing creatively
- Writing poetry for performance
- Staging of specific scenes from my novels
All the above are interactive activities
- Due to the themes and language used in my books sessions are best suited towards Key Stage 4 and 5
- Numbers vary from year groups to individual class size
- Sessions usually last between 45 – 60 mins
- Technical and practical requirements will be discussed in conjunction with school liaison.
Feedback from Brian’s school visits.
Brian is a delightful speaker who captivates his audience from the beginning, with comic anecdotes from his younger life (misspent youth). He is engaging and incredibly funny with an uncanny ability to read his audience and gauge their enjoyment. His fabulous Scottish accent adds to the drama and enjoyment of hearing him read his work. I have heard Brian speak on numerous occasions to children and adults alike, he never fails to hit the mark with any audience.
Tracey Frohawk (EMYLG Vice Chair & Former CILIP CKG Judge. LRC Manager, Weston Favell Academy)
Brian has visited Corby Business Academy a number of times and his visits have always been a phenomenal success. He has delivered talks to groups of disengaged KS4 boys, high achieving Carnegie shadowers and full year groups, and has been popular with them all. His honesty and humour made him a firm favourite with all our students and, even months after his last visit, we can’t keep his books on the library shelves. I can’t recommend him enough – every school deserves a visit from Brian!
Amy McKay (School Librarian of the Year 2016. Corby Business Academy)
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about Brian Conaghan, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org