Catherine MacPhail
Catherine MacPhail

All About Catherine MacPhail

Catherine MacPhail was born and brought up in Greenock, Scotland, where she still lives. Before becoming a children’s author, she wrote short stories for magazines, comedy programmes for radio and two romantic novels. Catherine was inspired to write her first children’s book after her daughter was bullied at school.
Cathy writes spooky thrillers for younger readers as well as teen novels and has the unique ability to get to the heart of serious, topical issues through the stories of her feisty characters.
Catherine has won the Royal Mail Book Award twice, along with lots of other awards and has been called the Scottish Jacqueline Wilson. One of Cathy’s greatest fears would be to meet another version of herself, similar to the young girl in her best-selling novel Another Me. She is a big fan of Doctor Who and would love to write a scary monster episode for the series.
Catherine loves to hear from her fans, so do write, email or post your thoughts to her.

Catherine’s School Visits

I love visiting schools. What I most enjoy is inspiring young people to read and to realise that they too can create stories and characters and plots. My sessions usually last an hour to an hour and a half and include brainstorming, how I get ideas, how I build up my plot, as well as creative writing workshops. The sessions are interactive so there will be lots of input from the pupils and lots of questions too.

Cathy’s Books

secret of the shadows

Secret of the Shadows

A ghostly new thriller, featuring Tyler Lawless, heroine to the unlawfully dead.
Tyler is staying in her grandmother’s cottage to help tidy it up after her death. Why does the spare bedroom that Tyler sleeps in always seem cold, despite bright sunshine? Why does she feel the presence of a frail old lady who is nothing like her grandmother? And why does she sense that the same old lady is asking for her help? Perhaps Tyler will need to use her gifts to help save somebody from a terrible fate . . .

out of the depths

Out of the Depths

‘I saw my teacher at the queue in the supermarket last Christmas. Miss Baxter. I was surprised to see her. She’d been dead for six months.’
In Out of The Depths, Cathy MacPhail introduces her latest character, Tyler Lawless, who has an unusual and sometimes scary gift. She is able to see dead people. And sometimes they speak to her, asking for her help.
When Tyler moves to a new school she is hoping to make a fresh start. But that isn’t easy when a boy who is supposed to be dead appears in your classroom, and statues in the school seem to come alive and point towards the place where the dead boy, Ben Kincaid, was murdered. Will Tyler be able to assist Ben with his pleas for help, or will she be dismissed as an attention-seeking teller of tall tales?
A thrilling and spooky tale that will have readers on the edge of their seat.

missing

Missing

A taut thriller that explores grief, the effect of bullying and sibling rivalry.
Maxie’s parents have had to do perhaps the worst possible thing: confirm the identity of her brother Derek’s body by the clothes he was wearing when he disappeared. So the brother who was missing is now officially dead. But then the worst possible thing really happens: Maxie receives a telephone call from somebody saying he is her brother. She can hardly believe her ears. Has Derek come back from the dead?
In this pacy thriller the author manages to confront many issues including: how different people deal with grief, the much underrated effect of severe bullying at school and sibling rivalry – all in a fast-paced and compelling narrative voice.

another me

Another Me

A spooky mystery featuring doppelgangers and unexplainable sightings.
It was as I was walking into the drama class that I remembered the girl I had bumped into and the green sweater just like mine. That was what had got Mrs. Watt mixed up. She had seen the girl in the green sweater and thought it was me. That was the simple explanation. Wasn’t it?
Fay can’t help thinking it odd that people start remarking on conversations she knows she hasn’t had, or saying they have seen her when she knows she was somewhere else. But then she starts hearing muffled footsteps behind her, the flash of fair hair just like hers around the corner. Is she imagining things?

underworld

Underworld

A pacy page-turner with a terrifying twist.
A school trip goes disastrously wrong when a visit to local caves turns into something far more sinister. Five school children find themselves trapped beneath the ground. Their best chance of escape is to stay together. Then a member of the group disappears, and their hopes of leaving start to fade. Does one of the remaining four know more than they are letting on, or is there something evil lurking in the caves? The five children find themselves in a struggle for dominance as well as survival . . .

run zac run

Run Zan Run

An immensely powerful novel about the brutality of bullying and the value of true friendship.
Ivy turned on her. ‘I told you I’d get you, didn’t I? Well,’ her next words sent shivers through Katie.
Katie is being bullied at school – and cannot get anyone to believe her. She feels frightened and alone . . . until one day when she is cornered by Ivy and her fellow bullies on the town dump. Katie is terrified, there is nowhere left to run. But suddenly, as if by magic, a girl called Zan rises from the rubbish in the dump and leaps to Katie’s defense. But Zan is not willing to talk to Katie – all she wishes to do is keep her identity a secret. Slowly Katie learns the truth about Zan, and when she does, she realises Zan has much more to lose than the safety of her cardboard box. A gripping story that really brings the issue of bullying to a head.

roxys baby

Roxy’s Baby

Roxy was shaking with fear. She drew in a deep breath. She would not let her fear take over. She couldn’t. She had too much to lose. She had to be strong, to be brave. For once in her life she had to think of someone other than herself.

Roxy is wild, uncontrollable. She hates her parents – and her goody-two-shoes sister. Her only solace is her equally wild friends, Pat, Tracey and Jacqueline. Then there is the night of the party, where she lets that boy kiss her, and more . . . Roxy is pregnant. She won’t tell her mother, her family. She decides to run away to London.

In London, Roxy is found by Mr. and Mrs. Dyce. They are understanding, sympathetic, and promise her a way out of her troubles. They take her to a comfortable place, along with other girls in the same position to look after her and her baby. Roxy cannot believe her luck. That is until she begins to work out the dark truth behind the Dyces’ kindness…

grass

Grass

It would have been hard to have missed what was written on the wall. Painted in giant whitewashed letters: ‘SHARKEY IS A GRASS’.
I hadn’t a clue who Sharkey was, but I knew one thing. ‘Sharkey’s a dead man,’ I said.
Leo knows the value of never grassing and that you never grass on your friends. Everybody, too, knows the gang leaders in town. And you don’t grass on them. Not unless you don’t value your life – like Sharkey. And then Leo is unlucky enough to witness the murder of one gang leader by another, a man called Armour. Leo is petrified as he realises what he is witnessing and even more petrified when he realises that Armour has seen him. Sure that he is drawing his own last breath, Leo silently says goodbye to his family and everybody he knows. But all Armour does is wink at Leo, very slowly, and leave the scene of the crime. Leo draws a long breath of relief. He has got away with it. But he hasn’t – not really. Leo will live to regret that wink and realise that Armour has an insidious hold on him and his family, which will test his family relationships, and his very sense of what is right and wrong. It will take bravery, luck and sheer daring to extricate himself from Armour’s deadly web.
A riveting and hard-hitting novel from Cathy MacPhail.

bad company

Bad Company

With her Dad just out of prison and a manipulative new friend, Lissa’s life is far from easy.
Lissa’s world has just turned upside down. Her father has been in jail and is coming home for Christmas. She can’t bear the way her mother and sister are so happy and making welcome plans. After all, he was the one who let them all down and spoilt her life, wasn’t he? Before he went to jail, they had a nice house, she had trendy clothes and pretty much anything that she wanted but now she is taunted by her classmates. But life gets better when new girl Diane arrives at school. Diane doesn’t make fun of her dad but Lissa doesn’t realise that Diane is manipulative. And she doesn’t realise either how much her dad loves her. It is only when a combination of events come together that she has to face facts about who and what are important to her.

worse than boys

Worse than Boys

A strongly charged tale about girl gangs.
Hannah Driscoll is part of a gang called the Lip Gloss Girls. The gang spends most of their spare time together – or baiting the rival gang the Hell Cats. The two gangs constantly square up to each other and vie for which gang can fight the best – whether it be at school, in the park or on the train. Hannah feels safe and comfortable within the gang – until she is accused of betraying the Lip Gloss Girls. All of a sudden Hannah feels what it is like to be cast out and surrounded by enemies . . .

fighting back
Fighting Back

Characteristically topical, this novel tackles the dangers of being in debt.
Kerry and her mum have recently moved into new council accommodation in a tower block. Kerry’s dad has recently left them, and Kerry and her mum are forging a new life together. But Kerry’s mum is not the calmest or the most patient of people, particularly when it comes to getting on with the new neighbours. And when Kerry’s mum refuses to be intimidated by Ma Lafferty, the local moneylender, Kerry finds out that Ma Lafferty’s daughter more than takes after her mother. . .

Nemesis Series

Nemesis 1: Into the Shadows

The first book in a thrilling four-part crime series.

Ram has no memory of who he is, his background or where he has come from. He awakes in a darkened corridor of a block of flats with no idea of how he has got there. And then the lift doors nearby open and inside is a dying man . . .

Ram is now the murder suspect and on the run. But there is something that draws him back– the dying man’s last words. And as he discovers more about the murdered man, Ram becomes aware that somebody is following him, somebody with sinister intent . . . Could it be something to do with his past?

Nemesis 2: The Beast Within

Ram has cheated death – four times. Who is so desperate to kill him? And why? On the run, Ram finds himself on desolate moorland. He knows he is being stalked, but this time by something less than human . . .
Ram is rescued by the seemingly generous and kind William and Mary. But his relief fades to suspicion and fear when, on learning he has no memory, they insist on calling him Noel. Ram is full of doubt. He has no memory of who he is, but he knows he is not Noel – doesn’t he? And odd memories start to surface. Memories of guns, rifles, explosions. Strange phrases seem to ring bells. Why does Ram feel in his gut that his secret past is not just vitally important to him, but could have even global significance?
Will he get to the truth before his deadly opponent, the Dark man gets to him?

Nemesis 3: Sinister Intent

‘Then I heard it: something swishing rhythmically towards me out of the blackness.
Ever had that feeling of terror when you can’t see what’s coming but you know it might be your worst nightmare?’
Strange lights in the night sky, people disappearing, a mysterious man calling himself Destiny . . . Ram has run straight into another mystery. But the people who go missing are people no one will miss, except Ram and the dotty old woman who rescues him . . .
And the Dark Man finds Ram again – but how? Just when Ram thinks it is safe to run, he discovers another terrifying truth. Something that means he will never be safe again. Not him. Not anyone.

Nemesis 4: Ride of Death

Ever since Ram woke up in a tower block a few weeks ago, the deadly and mysterious Dark Man has been hunting him down. With no memory of who he is or what has happened to him, the only thing Ram can be certain of is that time is running out – and not just for him, for everyone.

Ram knows that if he is ever to discover the truth about his identity, the lone bomber and the terrible threat that faces the world, he must turn the tables on the Dark Man. The time for running is over.

In this shocking conclusion to the Nemesis series, Ram faces one final confrontation with his nemesis and evil forces more powerful than he could ever imagine.

Reviews and Recommendations

“Young adult fiction is going from strength to strength, led by authors like Catherine MacPhail.’’ The Bookseller

‘Catherine MacPhail’s novels are tuned to how teenagers talk and behave.’ Times Educational Supplement

Praise for Grass:

‘Gritty and convincing throughout, Grass conveys with chilling accuracy the power of gang leaders over local communities . . . This is a book with real bite and an uplifting ending.’ The Bookseller

‘I used to not like books very much but now that I’ve started to read yours I can’t stop. My favorite so far is Roxy’s Baby. Its kind a scary yet sad.’ Havovi, a fan

‘I first decided to read Out of the Depths when Catherine came on a visit to my school. Just a few months before, myself and the rest of my class went on a school trip to The Edinburgh Book Festival where we saw Cathy speak. At her talk, she told us all about Tyler Lawless. I wasn’t sure whether I should read it or not. What if it’s not my genre? I thought to myself. But after Cathy’s visit to my school I knew I had to read it . . .The very thought of being in Tyler’s shoes terrifies me. I mean, how must she feel when no one believes her? Pretty scared I would imagine! But on the other hand, who does believe things like that? It really doesn’t surprise me that nobody believed Tyler even though Tyler isn’t an attention seeking girl. Out of the Depths is a really fantastic book. It is appropriate for anybody whose preferred genre is spooky ghost stories!’ Morven, a fan

Teacher feedback:

‘An excellent visit. Catherine inspired our Year 7, not just with her books but with her ideas for writing.’ Tessa, Teignmouth Community College

‘It was really good. I wish that we had invited more students as the ones who were there enjoyed it so much.’ Carol, Coombeshead College

‘Superb – Catherine really engaged our students and made the event about them.’ Victoria, Okehampton College

To Make a Booking

To make a booking for Catherine MacPhail in England, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please email Trevor Wilson at trevor@caboodlebooks.co.uk or phone him on +44 (0) 1535 656015