An author known for his Castaways of the Flying Dutchman trilogy and his Redwall series, he also penned several collections of short stories, including Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales (1991) and The Ribbajack & Other Curious Yarns (2004).
At ten years of age, he wrote a story about a bird that cleans a crocodile's teeth and was punished by his teacher, who thought he must have plagiarized the tale. Many years later (in 1986), he published the first book in his popular Redwall series.
He left school at age fifteen to sign up for the merchant marine, and his subsequent experiences inspired some of his literary work.
He was born in Liverpool, England to James Jacques and Ellen Ryan. With his wife, Maureen, he had two sons: David and Marc.
Edgar Rice Burroughs was one of his literary influences.