All About Keith Gray
Keith Gray grew up in and around Grimsby on the east coast of England. He was definitely the best tree-climber at primary school, but probably one of the worst readers. He avoided books thinking they were a chore and was labelled a ‘reluctant reader’ by his teachers. It wasn’t until he was 12 when he finally realized tree-climbing wasn’t going to turn out to be a proper job, no matter how good he was at it. But it was also around this time when a friend gave him a copy of The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall. This was the book that helped Keith discover a love of reading, and not so long after, for writing too. His first book Creepers was published when he was 24 and it was shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award.
After his early days as a reluctant reader Keith says he now writes for the hard-to-please youngster he once was. His books have been published in a dozen languages and have either won or been shortlisted for awards all over the world, including the Sankei Cultural Publishing Prize of Japan (The Runner), the American Library Association Best Books ‘YA’ (Ostrich Boys) and the Scottish Arts Council Book Awards (Warehouse). In the UK his bestselling novel Ostrich Boys was shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, the Costa Children’s Book Award and won the Royal Mail Scottish Children’s Book Awards. It’s been adapted for the stage and has been performed in such far-flung places as Seoul, Mumbai and Coventry. Keith has also edited 2 ground-breaking anthologies for teenage readers, working with writers such as Patrick Ness, Melvin Burgess, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Malorie Blackman. He has been a judge for the Guardian Book Awards, the Blue Peter Book Awards and the Nestle Children’s Book Prize as well as being a regular reviewer for both the Guardian and Scotsman newspapers. In 2017 he moved to live in Vienna, Austria, with his partner, their daughter and a parrot called Bellamy.
Keith’s School Visits
Keith has worked mainly with Key Stages 3-6 (but can tailor his sessions for older Key Stage 2 pupils if required) and has talked to audiences in schools and at book festivals all over the world. He has one major theme: Books are for Life, not just for homework.
He can deliver a fun, engaging and thought-provoking presentation which lasts around about an hour and is happy with large audiences (whole year groups not a problem) in which he talks about his background as a reluctant reader and encourages pupils to challenge themselves when it comes to their own reading.
Creative Writing Workshop
Keith’s fully interactive workshop aims to give pupils a ‘toolbox’ for writing fiction. He will guide the pupils through the creation of their own characters before leading several brief writing exercises aimed at developing theme, structure, style and reader engagement, proving that strong characters should always be at the heart of any good story. The preferred time for the workshop is 90 minutes but it can be condensed as required. The maximum number of pupils for the workshop is 30.
Continued Professional Development
Keith is experienced at leading sessions for teachers and librarians exploring ways to enthuse and engage reluctant readers/writers in the classroom. These sessions are often unique to each school and he’d be happy to discuss your requirements.
Kenny, Sim and Blake are about to embark on a remarkable journey. Stealing the urn that contains the ashes of their best friend Ross, they set out to travel 261 miles from Cleethorpes on the English east coast to the tiny hamlet of Ross in Southern Scotland. Little do they realize just how much Ross can still affect life for them even though he’s dead.
Ostrich Boys (Critical Scripts – Methuen Modern Drama)
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, Keith Gray’s much-loved novel features a group of three friends who embark on a remarkable journey from Cleethorpes to Scotland with a stolen urn containing the ashes of their best friend. Now adapted for the stage by Birmingham Rep for a production by their Youth Theatre in 2011, Ostrich Boys is ideal for KS3 and KS4 English and will appeal strongly to boys as well as girls.
Losing It (as editor)
Keith Gray has gathered together some of today’s leading writers for teens in a wonderfully provocative, defiantly sensitive collection of original stories: some funny, some moving, some haunting but all revolving around the same subject – having sex for the first time! With Jenny Valentine, Melvin Burgess, Patrick Ness, Sophie McKenzie, Mary Hooper, Bali Rai and Anne Fine.
The Last Soldier
It’s 1922, hotter than the devil’s own frying pan, and the carnival is in town. Joe scoffs at the Museum of Marvels but his brother Wade is drawn to its newest exhibit – The Last Soldier of World War One. Who is the soldier and what is his mysterious hold over Wade? A ‘Dyslexic Friendly’ read published by Barrington Stoke.
Jason has had enough of his parents’ arguments. He’s running away to stay with his brother in Liverpool. Once on the monster InterCity train he meets Jam, who introduces him to the world of the ‘Runners’. But there is a secret Jam doesn’t tell him. Highly recommended for Key Stage 2 as part of the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.
Reviews and Recommendations
‘One can’t help thinking if there were more writers like Keith Gray more teenagers would read.’ – The Herald
‘An exceptional writer for teens.’ – The Sunday Times
‘One of my favourite authors. I wish he’d write quicker!’ – Patrick Ness
‘A fun, energetic and inspirational speaker. After our session with Keith Gray everybody in the room wanted to be an author, even the teachers.’ – Duncan Wright, School Librarian of the Year 2010
‘Keith Gray brings an enormous amount of warmth, knowledge, enthusiasm and generosity to every single classroom he visits.’ – Jasmine Fassl, Head of Schools, Scottish Book Trust.
To make an enquiry about Keith, 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