At school, the thought of becoming a writer didn’t cross his mind. He was useless at English, his best subjects being Maths, Physics and Football. He wanted to be a footballer, but when that didn’t work out he went off to the City University in London and studied Applied Maths and Computer Science.
He spent the next twenty-five years working as a lecturer at what is now Portsmouth University , and then as a consultant at the IBM research laboratories in Winchester . During this time he published his first book - excitingly entitled: Disk Programming Techniques for the BBC Microcomputer! This had jokes in, to keep the reader awake. Realising that he’d enjoyed writing the jokes more than the rest, Michael decided to try writing a book that was all jokes and no computer bits.
He came up with …
‘Mr Stitson was the first teacher to disappear …’
Since then Michael has written more than 80 other titles, both fact and fiction. The former include the best-selling Foul Football series (Scholastic), together with others on subjects as diverse as the Olympics, Bible stories and – returning to his roots – computers.
Michael’s fiction ranges from picture books for very young readers right through to serious novels for the 11+ age group. Weirdo’s War was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, the Lancashire Book Award and the Writer’s Guild Award, Tag was shortlisted for the Norfolk Libraries Book Award and Hank the Clank, Ridiculous! and Madame Retsmah Predicts were all shortlisted for the Sheffield Children’s Book award. In May 2008, Going Straight (Filer Droit) won two French literary prizes: the Prix des Incorruptibles and the Prix litteraire des collegiens de Haute-Savoie. His work has been translated into more than 25 languages.
Foul Football titles England and Wicked World Cup 2006 have been hugely successful, the latter being the second highest-selling non-fiction children’s book in the first half of the year it was published (beaten only by a Jacqueline Wilson book being almost given away at £1!). The Howling-Tower, the first volume of Michael’s fantasy trilogy The Bear Kingdom, was made Ottaker’s Book of the Month. This was followed by the second and third volumes The Fighting-Pits and The Hunting-Forest. An audio version of the trilogy is to be released in 2011.
His latest book is to be published by Barrington Stoke in June 2010 and is called DANGER SIGNS.
‘Coleman’s story is a moving account of the relationship between two bothers, one of whom is deaf. This engaging story is informative about the nature and difficulties surrounding loss of hearing, and will generate lots of classroom talking points.’ Marilyn Brocklehurst, Norfolk Children’s Book Centre
Michael has also scripted over 100 programmes for BBC Schools Radio and TV, including First Steps in Drama, Revisewise and three series of Listen and Write - all programmes which encourage children to do what Michael didn’t do when he was at school - enjoy writing!