Critically acclaimed young adult novelist Kevin Brooks knew he always wanted to be a writer. Before he realized that dream, he worked at many jobs, including a crematorium assistant, a refreshments vendor at the London Zoo, and a civil servant.
It was the publication of Martyn Pig that changed everything. After being turned down by a number of publishers, Kevin Brooks sent his manuscript to The Chicken House, who jumped on the chance to publish it. They released Martyn Pig in the spring of 2002. In the U.K, the book went on to be short-listed for the Carnegie Medal and win a Branford Boase Award for a first best novel. And in the United States, it was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start and an ALA Book of the Year, among its many accolades.
One of Brooks' favorite genres is the detective novel, and this shows in his writing, “I think my awareness of plot comes from having read a lot of crime fiction. When Martyn Pig came out, the reviewers were saying things such as 'well plotted' novel. I found that surprising because I didn't have any idea that I could plot or structure a story. I do plan, but I'm not consciously aware that I'm building a plot that creates good suspense; it comes naturally because I've soaked myself in those sorts of plots.”
Why did he decide to write for children? “There are not many differences, I don't think, between writing for children and writing for adults,” Brooks says, “because children aren't that different from adults. But I would say the story is the main thing, with children. With adults you might use different styles and structures, perhaps indulge in fiddly niceties. Writing for children brings you down to basics.”
Critics have compared his second novel, Lucas, to classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Ox-Bow Incident. “An ambitious and intricately crafted tale of love and resurrection,” says Publishers Weekly in a starred review. Lucas was long listed for the Guardian Fiction Prize, was a Book Sense 76 pick and was also chosen for Barnes & Noble Teen Discovery Program. His next book, Kissing the Rain, was published in March 2004. It is a story that Brooks had in his head for a long time. “When the time was right, I just opened the door and let it out,” he says. “I became Moo Nelson,” he says “I became his mind, his body, his words, his truth, and I lived out his journey - from truth to lies and back again; from loneliness to loyalty, from denial to acceptance, from weakness to strength… It was a hard journey at times, but I loved every minute of it.”
Candy, Brooks' latest novel is published in Spring 2005. It is a love story, but not of the typical boy-meets-girl variety. “You don't get love stories from boys' points of view,” states Brooks. “It's as if fifteen-year-old boys don't fall in love. But it's not that, of course. It's just that they never talk about it.” When Joe meets Candy, he is drawn into a dangerous world of drugs, violence, and desperation and his confusing mix of emotions start to mirror those of Candy.
Kevin Brooks is married and lives in Manningtree, Essex, England.