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Alan Durant

As a child

Alan was born in Sutton, Surrey, in the house where his parents still live today. He has two older brothers and a younger sister who, he says, were something of a disappointment to him as a child. “My dream was to have a weird family – and they weren’t. Good fun, interesting, but only one head each, no fangs, and no green skin.” His two passions were football (“My hero was George Best”) and reading – especially books by Meriol Trevors, C S Lewis and Michael Hardcastle, and Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series. He discovered writing seriously at the age of fourteen – “As a shy teenager, it was my lifeline.”

As an adult

After studying English at Keble College, Oxford, Alan lived in Paris for a couple of years. He was an animateur at a school of spontaneous expression, run by “the shortest, fattest, most volatile couple the world has ever seen. It was a formative experience.” He then worked at the charity, Scope, before getting a job as a copywriter at Walker Books. He is married to Jinny, a reception teacher, and has three children, Amy, Kit and Josie, otherwise known as his ‘guinea pigs’

As an artist

Alan’s first book, the young adult novel Hamlet, Bananas and all that Jazz, was published in 1991. Since then, he has written over 40 more. He writes for children of all ages – from pre-school to teenage – and in a variety of styles. He has written picture books, first readers, series such as Creepe Hall, Leggs United and Bad Boyz. And thrillers for older readers. “I started off writing stories about being a teenager – almost as a kind of exorcism – but since having children, I’ve written much more for them.” A BBC schools programme in the English Express series, featuring Alan and his football stories, won a Children’s BAFTA award. He does most of his writing in a shed at the bottom of his garden.

Things you didn't know about Alan Durant

  1. As a boy, he was head chorister in a church choir, and sang on the soundtrack of Franco Zefferelli’s film, Brother Sun, Sister Moon.
  2. His favourite time ever was in Year 6 at primary school, when he played lots of sport and had a great time being top of the the pile. Sadly, Year 7 followed…
  3. He has keratoconus, a rare eye-condition, which makes his eyes oval rather than round.
  4. As a child, he was obsessed with George Best – naming his goldfish after him, taking shares in his clothing company – and his favourite possession is still a Manchester United football book from 1969, signed “To Alan from George Best”.
  5. He supports Manchester United.
  6. He survived a car crash in Germany after going off the motorway, smashing through a clump of trees and rolling over several times. The car was a write-off. Somehow, Alan escaped with barely a scratch.
  7. His favourite place in the world is Venice, which is where he spent his honeymoon and returns to as often as possible.
  8. His ‘blurbs’ have appeared on the backs of millions of books – including Where’s Wally?, Guess How Much I Love You and Maisy.
  9. He delivered his son, Kit, over a bucket in his bedroom!
  10. The first time he met his wife, he bashed her over the head with a punt pole – by accident obviously (but it seemed to do the trick).

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