All About Paul Dowswell
A former senior editor with Usborne Publishing, Paul Dowswell is now a full-time author, writing historical fiction for Bloomsbury Publishing. He’s also written nearly 60 non-fiction titles, two of which were shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award. His novel Auslander was nominated for 20 book prizes. Among other awards it won the 2011 Bologna Hamelin Associazione Culturale Book Prize. The Financial Times said Ausländer ranks among the very best of wartime historical fiction. Two of his most recent books have won the Historical Association Young Quills Award. (Sektion 20 in 2012 and Eleven Eleven in 2013)
Paul Dowswell is especially interested in the lives of children and teenagers under totalitarian regimes, although he has also written novels about boy sailors in Nelson’s Navy (The Powder Monkey trilogy) and his most recent book Eleven Eleven follows the lives of three rival combatants on the final day of the First World War.
Paul visits schools throughout the UK to give book talks and take writing workshops. He has also been invited to schools and festivals in France, Germany, Italy and Australia.
Paul’s School Visits
Creative Writing Workshops
Workshops are usually put together following discussion with festival or school staff on length and duration, but broadly follow these lines:
Turning fact into fiction Ages 11 to adult
Where do you go for good, solid information? How visual references fire the imagination and which point of view is the best frame for your story. This workshop also works well as a follow up to any of the book talks, especially ‘Auslander’ and ‘Eleven Eleven’.
How to keep your reader reading Ages 10 to 16
Using my Usborne ‘True Stories’ books and Bloomsbury novels as a springboard, I talk about how to keep your reader interested in what you write. We look at research, structure, writing styles and using all five of your senses.
Creating Characters Age 11 to adult
Who are your favourite fictional characters? Why do you like them so much?
This workshop looks at how to invent believable, interesting and rounded characters in fiction. What is driving your character? Is it better to write in the first or third person? How do writers set about creating characters?
A sense of place Age 11 to adult
Using ‘Auslander’ or ‘Powder Monkey’ as a starting point, this session looks at some of the descriptive techniques writers use to evoke a time or place in their work.
Other information regarding school visits
PowerPoint for his visuals and will need a laptop, screen and projector.
He usual tailors his workshops to the school’s requirements.
Paul also does a day session for adults on ‘Writing Children’s Picture Books’. He taught this course at the Midlands Arts Centre for five years and several of his students went on to be published.
He’s happy to talk to any number for a book talk. Writing workshops work best with smaller numbers, as he gives on-the-spot feedback on student work. 30 is OK but 20 is better.
Book talks usually fit into school periods. They last approximately an hour.
Workshops can be a morning or afternoon, or fit into a school period.
He will travel all over the country, and abroad, to visit schools and festivals.
Eleven Eleven Age 11 to 16.
Boy soldiers and the First World War
William Franklin and Axel Meyer are both 16 year old soldiers. Fighter pilot Eddie Hertz is 19. Fate draws them together on the final day of the Great War. Why are they fighting? What do they believe in? Why did this war lead to the even greater catastrophe of World War Two?
With every turn of the page…readers will hold their breath, expecting the worst and hoping for the best. The Scotsman. October 2012.
‘Eleven Eleven’ won the 2013 Historical Association ‘Young Quills’ Award and was one of the Independent’s Teenage Books of the Year for 2012.
Teacher’s notes are available for Eleven Eleven at
Age 12 to adult.
A Cold War thriller about teenagers in East Berlin
It is 1972. Alex Ostermann is a normal teenager – he wants to look cool and listen to rock music. But Alex lives in East Germany – a society where one in six people are Stasi informers. The Stasi think Alex is a ‘negative-decadent’ and a potential ‘border violator’ (escaper). He has ‘false opinions’ and is considered to be a bad influence on his girlfriend Sophie, the daughter of two politics lecturers. Alex’s minor rebellion threatens his future and even his life, and has catastrophic consequences for his friends and family.
Sektion 20 won the 2012 Historical Association Young Quills Award for Historical Fiction and was been long listed for the 2013 Carnegie Book Prize.
‘A great thriller with a poignant historical background… terrific.’ – The Bookseller
Teacher’s notes are available for Sektion 20 at
Age 12 to adult.
‘Your child belongs to us…’ Growing up in Nazi Germany.
Polish orphan Peter Bruck is adopted by Berlin Nazis on the strength of his ‘Aryan’ looks and ancestry. Arriving in Germany in 1941 Peter is plunged into a world where everything is strictly controlled and monitored – even the music he listens to – and thinking for himself becomes unimaginably dangerous…
Ausländer is published by Bloomsbury and has been nominated for 20 book prizes. Among other awards it won the 2011 Bologna Hamelin Associazione Culturale Book Prize.
‘Ausländer ranks among the very best of wartime historical fiction.’ – The Financial Times
Paul also does a combined Ausländer and Sektion 20 talk entitled ‘The Real Big Brother’.
Powder Monkey Age 10 to 12/13. A boy’s life in Nelson’s Navy.
With illustrations and readings
Two hundred years ago, boys as young as 10 or 11 were expected to fight and die in the Royal Navy. Find out what a powder monkey was and why it was such a dangerous job, what it was like to climb a tall mast in a raging storm and why doing the ship’s laundry was one of the worst things a boy could be asked to do.
‘Prepare to have your timbers well and truly shivered by Paul Dowswell and his naval warfare novels. …a plot with more snap than a cat o’ nine tails.’ The Scotsman
‘The story is brutal, violent and staggeringly effective… (its) powerful plot, characters and atmospheric descriptions are astonishingly vivid. This is a superb eye-opening book. It is especially welcome as an antidote to the proliferation of gung-ho militaristic adventure-story books for young adults of recent years.’ School Library magazine
‘This powerful page-turner is ideal for use in history teaching, as well as making compelling reading in its own right.’Booktrust – ‘Books we like’
‘This is a sombre and bleak story of war which will sit well alongside the poetry and factual accounts of life in the trenches and in the air.’ The Independent
‘With every turn of the page mature readers will hold their breath, expecting the worst and hoping for the best. Paul Dowswell deals with war head on, leaving his readers in no doubt of its complexities and horrors.’ The Scotsman
‘Page-turning as ever, Eleven Eleven lives and breathes exhausted countryside and exhausted men, kept barely alive by gallows humour, small kindnesses and impossible hope. I don’t recall ever reading a better children’s book about the Great War.’ Youngreaderswestsix
‘As we approach the 100th Anniversary of the start of World War 1, we will begin to be inundated by books and stories… If they are all as good as this one then we will have a generation who understand the full horror of war and the terrible waste of lives not much older than theirs…’ Reading Zone
‘As ever, Paul Dowswell has written a book chock full of accurate and illuminating historical detail. There isn’t a better researcher or educator in children’s literature…’Bookbag
‘Eleven Eleven is sure to inspire interest in discovering more about the period and conflict that shook the world and devastated a generation.’ The History Blog
Samples of Paul’s books
Reviews and Recommendations
‘Dowswell is one of the best new writers of historical fiction for children.’ The Times
‘Dowswell is a key writer of historical fiction for teens and young adults.’ South China Morning Post
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about Paul Dowswell, 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
Further information on Paul Dowswell is available from his website: http://www.pauldowswell.co.uk