HCA Award Author Winner 2010

David Almond - UK

Growing up . . . involves coming to terms with a world in which reality and myth, truth and lies, turn about each other in a creative dance, as they always have and always will.
- David Almond                                                                    

David Almond was born in 1951 in the northeast part of England.  The product of a stable, Roman Catholic family, his childhood was marred by the death of an infant sister and the premature death of his father. He draws on these experiences to create the thread that runs through his writing; i.e., life brings us through a succession of contrasts: good and evil, hope and despair, struggle and triumph, wonder and doubt. His books are filled with the language, landscape, and history of northeastern England, a place where real and imaginary characters and real and imaginary places co-exist.

Almond was educated at local schools in Felling and Sunderland and at St. Joseph’s Catholic Grammar School in Hebburn. He studied English and American Literature at the University of East Anglia and worked for some time as a teacher in a primary school in Gateshead. His early work spoke to an adult audience, but with the novel Skellig (1998), he discovered a new audience and a new voice. Skellig is the story of a dirty, homeless creature who is discovered by two children who protect and nurture him. They draw power from each other, allowing each to soar into a world of self-discovery.

Skellig and Almond’s subsequent work have received international acclaim and been the subject of academic study. He has published ten more novels for young people and a children’s play, Wild Girl, Wild Boy.  Other novels have been adapted for the stage, TV and film. His characters display youthful imagination and creativity as they actively engage in the natural and social world around them. Adults are depicted as sources of love and stability, but it is the young people who make their own choices and discover who they are themselves. 

Almond’s work has a universal resonance and appeal. While grounded in everyday backgrounds and experiences, the characters are drawn to amazing revelations and often to mysterious events or surreal creatures. Almond’s penchant for illustrating truth through contradiction continues to be woven through his stories: melding the personal with the global, making distant terror immediate, and finding hope from despair.      

Selected bibliography

Skellig (1998) London: Hodder Children’s Books.

The Fire Eaters (2003) London: Hodder Children’s Books.

Clay (2005) London: Hodder Children’s Books. 

Jackdaw Summer (2008) London: Hodder Children’s Books.

The Savage. Illus. by Dave McKean (2008) London: Walker Children’s Books.

Bookbird, 2/2010 

Interview with David Almond

On Wednesday, 24 March 2010 Jennifer Chevalier from the arts programme The Strand broadcast by the BBC World Service, interviewed Andersen winner David Almond.

A life in writing: David Almond

Interview with David Almond by Guardian, Saturday 21 August 2010.
Click here for the full text.