My middle-grade mystery series will be published by Macmillan!

Maya Sam Mallard.jpg

I'm delighted to announce that Macmillan will be publishing a series of mystery books for children co-written by me and my phenomenally talented friend, award-winning author M. G. Leonard.

(That's us on the left, geeking out in front of Mallard, the fastest steam engine in the world).

The series (which we're calling Adventures on Trains for now) follows eleven-year-old Harrison Beck and his uncle, travel-writer Nathaniel Bradshaw. In each book, the two of them will travel by train in a different part of the world, encountering mystery and adventure as they go. Harrison's keen eye for the unusual and Uncle Nat's extensive knowledge of the world make them expert railway detectives - and I can't wait to start sharing their adventures with you.

The first book in the series will be called The Highland Falcon, and follows Harrison and Uncle Nat on board the last journey of the royal steam train to Balmoral. Among their fellow passengers are aristocrats, film stars and journalists... and a very cunning jewel thief.

Maya and I first met at the National Theatre eight years ago, where she taught me the witchcraft and wizardry of being a digital content producer. Many years later, once she had left the National behind to become a full-time writer, she told me about a project she'd wanted to write - about trains. Her two sons both loved trains when they were very little, but as they grew old enough to read books by themselves, she couldn't find stories that made use of their love of trains to spark a love of reading. But she couldn't write a book about trains herself, she told me, because she knew very little about them.

I was a different story. I love trains. I grew up with a railway line at the bottom of my garden, and my long-suffering parents would often take me to the station to watch the branch line and the intercity express. I watched The Lady Vanishes and The Titfield Thunderbolt on weekends, and took the Dartmouth Steam Railway to visit Agatha Christie's house in the holidays. I had gone through the very same thing as her sons when I was little - desperate to read anything with a train in it, and finding my bookshelves lacking.

We began working on the idea together and very quickly it all began to fall into place. Working with Maya has been an absolute joy, and I'm delighted our series has found a home with the marvellous team at Macmillan.