David Almond (born 15 May 1951) is a British author who has written several novels children or young adults from 1998, each one to critical acclaim.
He is one of thirty children's writers, and one of three from the U.K., to win the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award. For the 70th anniversary of the British Carnegie Medal in Literature in 2007, his debut novel Skellig (1998) was named one of the top ten Medal-winning works, selected by a panel to compose the ballot for a public election of the all-time favourite. It ranked third in the public vote from that shortlist.
Almond was born and raised in Felling and Newcastle in post-industrial North East England and educated at the University of East Anglia. He started out as an author of adult fiction, and his stories appeared in many little magazines, including Iron, Stand, London Magazine, Edinburgh Review. His first short story collection Sleepless Nights, was published by iron Press in 1985). His second, A Kind of Heaven, appeared in 1987. He then wrote a series of stories which drew on his own childhood, and which would eventually be published as Counting Stars, published by Hodder in 2001.
These stories led directly to his first novel, Skellig (1998), set in Newcastle. It won the 1998 Whitbread Award, Children's Book and the Carnegie Medal. It has been published in over thirty languages. And it has become a radio play scripted by Almond; a stage play scripted by Almond, first production at the Young Vic, directed by Trevor Nunn; an opera with libretto by Almond, composed by Tod Machover, first directed by Braham Murray at The Sage in Gateshead; and a film directed by Annabel Jankel, with Tim Roth as Skellig.
In the next seven years, four more novels by Almond made the Carnegie Medal shortlist of five to eight books. Since Skellig his novels, stories, and plays have also brought international success and widespread critical acclaim. They are Kit's Wilderness (1999), Heaven Eyes (2000), Secret Heart (2001), The Fire Eaters (2003), Clay (2005), Jackdaw Summer ( ), and My Name is Mina (2010), a prequel to Skellig. He collaborates with leading artists and illustrators, including Polly Dunbar (My Dad's a Birdman and The Boy Who Climbed Into the Moon); Stephen Lambert (Kate, the Cat and the Moon; and Dave McKean (The Savage, Slog's Dad and the forthcoming Mouse Bird Snake Wolf). His plays include Wild Girl, Wild Boy, My Dad's a Birdman, Noah & the Fludd and the stage adaptations of Skellig and Heaven Eyes.
Almond's novel The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean (2011) was published in two editions: Adult (Penguin Viking); and Young Adult (Puffin). 2012 publications include The Boy Who swam With Piranhas (illustrated by Oliver Jeffers). 2013: "Mouse Bird Snake Wolf" (illustrated by Dave McKean).
His works are highly philosophical and thus appeal to children and adults alike. Recurring themes throughout include the complex relationships between apparent opposites (such as life and death, reality and fiction, past and future); forms of education; growing up and adapting to change; the nature of the "self". He has been greatly influenced by the works of the English Romantic poet William Blake.
In November 2008 he was a guest on Private Passions, the biographical music discussion programme on BBC Radio 3.
His short story "The Knife Sharpener" appeared in The Sunday Times on 25 January 2009 and The Savage was given away free as part of the Liverpool Reads event.
In 2010 David Almond became the 29th recipient of the so-called Nobel Prize for children's literature, the international Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing, which biennially recognises the "lasting contribution" of one living author.
Almond's major awards include the Carnegie Medal (Skellig); two Whitbread Awards; the Smarties Prize in category 9–11 years (The Fire-Eaters); the U.S. Michael L. Printz Award (Kit's Wilderness);[a] the U.S. Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (The Fire-Eaters); Le Prix Sorcieres (France); the Katholischer Kinder-und Jugendbuchpreis (Germany); and a Silver Pencil and three Silver Kisses (Netherlands).[clarification needed]
The Skellig prequel My Name is Mina (Hodder, 2010) was a finalist for three major annual awards: the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, the Carnegie Medal in Literature, and the (German) Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis.
Almond currently lives with his family in Northumberland, England. Since 2006 he has been a Visiting Professor in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University.