The Carnegie Medal-winning author of Skellig (1998), he is also known for such similarly popular children's titles as Kit's Wilderness (1999), The Fire-Eaters (2003), and Clay (2005). He was the 2010 recipient of the prestigious
He studied literature at the University of East Anglia. He subsequently spent a decade in near obscurity, publishing only fiction for adults, including his 1987 novel, A Kind of Heaven.
He taught creative writing at both Nottingham Trent University and Bath Spa University.
He grew up with four sisters and a brother in Northeast England. He later settled in Northumberland with his artist wife, Sara Jane Palmer, and his daughter, Freya.
Oscar-nominated actor Tim Roth played the title character in the 2009 movie adaptation of Skellig.