Catherine MacPhail

Catherine MacPhail

Catherine MacPhail (born 25 January 1964, Greenock) is a Scottish-born author. MacPhail has quickly established a reputation as a writer of gritty, urban stories that tackle emotitional, contemporary issues but always work towards a positive solution and usually always are realistic.. Although she has had jobs (Assembling computers for IBM, housewife) she always wanted to be a writer but she didn't think she would be suited to it. [ "think wee lassies like me could do things like that. It was only after my children were born that I started going to the local Writers' Club. There I was given the confidence and encouragement to start sending my stories away". [ Official Website] ] Her first published work was a sort of "twist-in-the-tale" story in Titbits, followed by a story in the Sunday Post. After she had won a romantic story competition in "Woman's Weekly", she decided to concentrate on romantic novels, but after writing two, she decided that it wasn't right for her. [ [ Official Website] ]

In addition to writing books for children around their teens, she also writes for adults, she is the author of the BBC Radio 2 series, "My Mammy And Me".

Macphail was also previously "President of the Scottish Association of Writers" and "Chair of the Scottish Children's Writers and Illustrators".

Personal life

MacPhail has three children, one named "Katie", whom she got the inspiration from her first book, who was being bullied at the time. She has two other children, one named David (an author who has sketches on TV and who plays on stage) and one other named Sarah, an year older than Katie and has MacPhail's book "Tribes"(2004). ( She says that she would write for free, but she enjoys to get paid for it. On her website, as a child she states "Do you know what an eejit is? Someone who is one sandwich short of a picnic…whose lift doesn’t go…well, you know what I mean. Eejit is a wonderful Scottish/Irish word that seemed to sum me up perfectly when I was growing up." (Eejit is a Scottish/Irish word for someone stupid.)"I was always trying to change my image. Act sophisticated, grown up, sensible…and then a story would just plop into my mind and BANG! There I’d go, smack into another lamppost." [ [ - Children's Authors ] ] She also had an encounter with writer, Anthony Horowitz (Writer of the popular Alex Rider series) which involved her son.

MacPhail grew up with three sisters and a widowed mother. Although her dad died when she was just two, her little sister was born two months after he died. She claims that "her childhood was full of fun, even though it must have been so hard for my mum. Me and my sisters knew nothing of the hardship she must have had. My mother was always reading books and was never away from the library." MacPhail has stated in her own website she can always remember thinking what a wonderful place it was. You could walk out with a stackful of books and didn’t even pay for them! "It was my mum who gave me my love of reading." [ [ ] ]


MacPhail's first try at a children's novel was entitled "Run, Zan, Run", and she says that she has "never enjoyed writing anything so much." It was inspired by her youngest daughter, Katie was being bullied at school and she wanted to raise the awareness of how little help is actually available to children who are being bullied. Run, Zan, Run was the winner of the 1994 Kathleen Fidler Award for new Scottish Writing and was positively received by critics.Catherine’s next book was entitled "Fighting Back", and was equally uncompromising, but this time it was about loan-sharking. Fighting Back won one of the first Scottish Arts Council Children’s Book Awards in 1999 and was well-received, to a wide-audience.Catherine’s novel following it, was entitled "Fugitive", has also received widespread acclaim. She has also written a series of four books entitled "Nemesis", which concluded in May 2008.

Novels [ [ Catherine MacPhail ] ]
Run, Zan, Run (1994)
Fighting Back (1998)
Fugitive (1999)
Missing (2000)
A Kind of Magic (2001)
Bad Company (2001)
Dark Waters (2003)
Picking on Percy (2003)
Wheels (2003)
Another Me (2003)
Get That Ghost to Go! (2003)
Catch Us If You Can (2004)
Tribes (2004)
Underworld (2004)
Sticks and Stones (2005
Roxy's Baby (2005)
Traitors' Gate (2005)
Get That Ghost to Go Too (2006)
Dead Man's Close (2006)
Under the Skin (2007)
Worse Than Boys (2007)

[ [ Catherine MacPhail ] ]
1. Granny Nothing
2. Granny Nothing (2003)
3. Granny Nothing and the Shrunken Head (2003)
4. Granny Nothing and the Rusty Key (2004)
5. Granny Nothing and the Secret Weapon (2004)

"Nemesis" series
1. Into the Shadows (2006)
2. The Beast Within (2007)
3. Sinister Intent (2007)
4. Ride of Death (2008)

[ [ Catherine MacPhail ] ]

Personal Life

Money, she says she would "write for nothing, but to get paid for it is the tops."On books, she has stated that “My favourite book was Little Women and one of the characters, Jo, was a writer.”The inspiration of her books she stated that “I always use real people in my stories… Run, Zan, Run is a book about something that happened to my daughter Katie and Fugitive uses the relationship between my friend and her son. I get a real person or situation and then as I start to dramatise it the character takes on a personality of its own.”From her website, a short extract:"But I would never have admitted to anyone that I wanted to be a writer. They would have laughed at me for sure. And anyway, I used to think, what did I have to write about? Nothing interesting ever happened to me. I lived in Greenock. An ‘auld grey toon’ on the West coast of Scotland. Writers lived in Paris or London, or New York. They didn’t live in Greenock. Writers spoke with posh voices. Not with a broad Scottish accent like mine. Or writers were dead. None of the above applied to me".

"Yet, my own background, my home town, have been the inspiration for most of my writing. A comedy series called ‘My Mammy and Me’, another one called ‘We Gotta Get Outta This Place.’ Set in Greenock, inspired by my own experiences. And my first book, the book that changed my life, Run Zan Run, based on what happened to my own daughter Katie, in Greenock. A tip, if you want to be a writer, don’t ever think nothing ever happens to you, because your own life is so interesting, if you just think about it. My only regret? I wish I had started sooner. But once I’d started? There was no stopping me."


External links

* [ Catherine's Official Website
* [ Northern Children's Book Festival Bio ]
* [,,15_1000046380,00.html Puffin Author Page]
* [ Fantistic Fiction Author's Index]
* [,,15_1000046380,00.html#BIO Puffin Books AuthorBiography]

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