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Patrick Ness

About me

I was born on an army base called Fort Belvoir, near Alexandria, Virginia. But I only stayed there for the first four months of my life and have never even been back to the East Coast of America. Since then, I've lived in Hawaii, Washington, California, and England.

I've only ever really wanted to be a writer. I studied English Literature at the University of Southern California, and when I graduated, I got a job as a corporate writer at a cable company in Los Angeles, writing manuals and speeches and once even an advertisement for the Gilroy, California Garlic Festival. I got my first story published in Genre magazine in 1997 and was working on my first novel when I moved to London in 1999. I've lived here ever since. I taught Creative Writing at Oxford University for three years, usually to students older than I was. I write for one of the UK national papers, and I've also been a writer in residence for Booktrust. Anything and everything to do with writing, that's how I want to make my life.

About my work

I made up stories all the time when I was young, though I was usually too embarrassed to show them to anybody. That's okay if you do that; when you're ready, you're ready. The important thing is to keep writing.

For young adults, I've written the Chaos Walking trilogy: The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men. I've also written two books for adults, a novel called The Crash of Hennington and a short story collection called Topics About Which I Know Nothing, a title which seemed funny at the time but less so 10,000 mentions later...

Here's a helpful hint if you want to be a writer: When I'm working on a first draft, all I write is 1000 words a day, which isn't that much (I started out with 300, then moved up to 500, now I can do 1000 easy). And if I write my 1000 words, I'm done for the day, even if it only took an hour (it usually takes more, of course, but not always). Novels are anywhere from 60,000 words on up, so it's possible that just sixty days later you might have a whole first draft. The Knife of Never Letting Go is 112,900 words and took about seven months to get a good first draft. Lots of rewrites followed. That's the fun part, where the book really starts to come together just exactly how you see it, the part where you feel like a real writer.

Three things you didn't know about me:

1. I have a tattoo of a rhinoceros.

2. I've run three marathons.

3. Under no circumstances will I eat onions.