Nicola Morgan

Author, Speaker, Supporter

Understanding and Supporting Your Teenagers – few spaces left and I’m not doing it again!

Out of print books – just in a coma

Sadly, most books die or fall into a coma after a while, usually when they’re not selling enough to make them worth while so the publisher decides not to reprint or sometimes because the author decides to do this (as I did with Write to be Published).

For me, almost none of them are dead, just dormant and waiting for new life. If any publisher wished to approach me to republish them, I’d be happy to consider.

I have written many other books, some out of print and many others still in print. These are my key out of print books. Note that three of my other novels, Mondays are Red, Sleepwalking and The Passionflower Massacre are technically out of print but still available as ebooks so I can still earn from them. Please consider buying them! (Sleepwalking and PFM are available together in one book at only £2.31 – ridiculous!)


Wasted is about luck, chance, risk, fate, danger, passion, hate, alcohol, music, and why leaving the house a few seconds later could change your life. It is a novel aimed at teenagers

Jack worships luck and decides his actions by the flip of a coin. No risk is too great if the coin demands it. Luck brings him Jess, a beautiful singer who will change his life. But Jack’s luck is running out, and soon the stakes are high. As chance and choice unravel, the risks of Jack’s game become terrifyingly clear. An evening of heady recklessness, and suddenly a life hangs in the balance, decided by the toss of a coin. In the end, it is the reader who must choose whether to spin that coin and determine: life or death.

Wasted was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal; winner of the Scottish Children’s Book Award (older readers); winner of the Coventry “Read it or Else” award; winner of the RED award; runner-up and Highly Commended in the North East Book Award; shortlisted for the Manchester, Grampian, Angus, Southern Schools, Stockport and Salford awards.

Piece in the Scotsman about the Scottish Children’s Book Award.

My favourite comment, from Isla, 14: “I have never read anything like it before. …. It makes your mind boggle! It was gripping and also slightly eerie, what with Kelly and her gang and the knives and the fortune-teller, Farantella. A unique idea!”

There is so much behind the book that I set up the special blog to discuss ALL the themes.


Deathwatch is a thriller, set in Edinburgh in the present day, about a fourteen-year-old girl who is being stalked. She doesn’t know until almost too late, but you know, right from the start. You know she’s being stalked but you don’t know who by, you don’t know why, and you don’t know what the stalker plans to do to her. One thing you do know: the stalker is obsessed by insects…

Deathwatch was shortlisted for the Essex Book Award and the RED Book Award. It was the best-selling book in the Edinburgh Children’s Bookshop for the year after it was published, beating JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyer.

I wrote this book with pupils from The Mary Erskine School in Edinburgh. The “Deathwatch” Girls helped with all sorts of things: choosing names, helping with teenage email language, telling me when things were not scary enough, deciding that a Madagascan Hissing Cockroach was much better than a stick insect for one particular scene…

Jill Murphy, 5* review on the Bookbag: “…. the sense of menace … is absolutely palpable and renders the book a real page-turner. I read in one, rather breathless, sitting.”

Nikki Gamble, on Writeaway: “Sinister, tense, thought-provoking and entertaining, this is a fine teen read.”

Vanessa Robertson, The Edinburgh Bookshop: “An outstanding book. The feeling of menace and suspense is established from the beginning and builds steadily until the climax of the plot where the stalker is revealed and Cat has to run for her life. Nicola is clearly a talented crime writer and it would be interesting to see her write a crime novel aimed at a grown up readership.”

Anne Johnstone – The Herald: “…As the story hurtles towards its surprising and truly terrifying climax, Morgan cleverly interweaves several themes with her customary attention to detail: stalking (including by internet), entomology, the pressures on outstanding young athletes torn between their own ambition and the desire for normal teenage fun, schizophrenia and Gulf War Syndrome.”

Polly Bartlett (13): “I read Deathwatch in one night. It is one of those books that you just can’t put down – an outstanding book. It was cleverly written, revolving round all of the charaters. There is a feeling of suspense, that carries on from the first word, all the way to the last.”


Full of dark deeds and danger, set in the gruesome 18th century, the book follows the adventures of Will and Bess. Will is wealthy but he has run away from home after arguments with his father and hated older brother. Seeking refuge in a ruin, he finds that he is not alone: someone else is hiding there: a highwayman, who captures him at gunpoint.

Bess is the daughter of a highwayman and has learnt to ride and use weapons. After her parents’ brutal death, she was cared for by Aggie but when Aggie died, Bess was left on her own, aged 13. Bess, now 14, is very strong and independent. Will is not, but he learns to be. He thinks he’s a coward, because his father and brother have always told him so, but during his adventures with Bess he finds courage that he had never imagined.

Bess hates the redcoats because they killed her parents. So when Will and Bess come across a young deserter, Henry Parish, on the run from the redcoats for stealing flour, they vow to help him. But the redcoats are determined to catch Henry, so Will and Bess face great danger. Will also discovers something terrible about his father and vows to make him pay. Will and Bess now have a double mission: to defend Henry Parish and take vengeance on the redcoats and Will’s father and brother.

When is it set? 1761. The year of the Hexham riots, when local people protested against the way they were forced to join the militia. The authorities decided that the ring-leader was an old man and they hanged him for it. But then they discovered that he hadn’t even been there that day. This incident becomes very important in fuelling Will’s anger;  he hates injustice and wants to fight against it.

What about the title? As soon as I started thinking about highwaymen, I was drawn towards my favourite poem, perhaps my favourite piece of writing anywhere: The Highwayman, by Alfred Noyes. For me it is perfect: SO beautifully tragic! It is about a highwayman and his lover, Bess, ’the landlord’s black-eyed daughter’. The redcoats want to kill the highwayman so they set a trap, tying Bess with a gun against her heart. But she wriggles until her finger is on the trigger and then waits till her lover approaches on his horse; when he does, she pulls the trigger, to warn him that the soldiers are waiting. To warn him with her death. She dies and he gallops away, not realising what the shot meant. Later, when he hears of her death, he gallops back in fury and allows the redcoats to shoot him dead, ’down like a dog’ on the road.

So, when I knew I was going to write story about a girl who was a highwayman, I knew she had to be connected. I decided that the highwayman and the landlord’s daughter had had a baby and that the story of their deaths would affect that child as she grew up. I knew that Bess would be brave and beautiful like them, but human and real too, with problems and depth of character.

So, Bess follows in the footsteps of her highwayman father. His spirit guides her and she will never forget him and all that he taught her about honour and bravery. Nor will she forget her hatred of the redcoats.

Something you might like to know: Henry Parish, the deserter whom the redcoats chased,  was a real person. Henry stole the flour because his family were starving but the soldiers wanted it to whiten their hair. Often it’s the small people who change history: it was partly because of him that the British army decided to change its policy of using flour to whiten the hair of the soldiers.

The Times, Amanda Craig: “… Morgan is a skilled storyteller who exposes the seamiest sides of history and explores ideas with real feeling. She shows us the miseries of poor people’s lives in England’s “golden age” … it is a terrific tale, gripping from start to finish.

The Telegraph, Sinclair McKay: “If what you are after is really serious retro-adventure, then it doesn’t get more sincere – or hauntingly conjured – than The Highwayman’s Footsteps … From the opening chapter we are hauled into the perilous life … Muskets are fired, horses are stolen, confidences are betrayed, shelter is sought in freezing, stinking hovels and all of this is played out against the unforgiving winter landscape of the Yorkshire Dales. Jeopardy lies round every corner, but Will and Bess come to form an impressive team, having constantly to think on their feet to stay ahead of soldiers and treacherous family members. There is no let up either in pace or atmosphere.”

Scotland on Sunday, Janet Christie: “… Noyes’ poem runs throughout the novel and is the catalyst for much of the action. Morgan follows in the highwayman’s footsteps by stepping confidently into his leather riding boots and galloping off with a teen novel whose strong characters, vivid language and runaway plot not only stand, but deliver too. …”


Will and Bess are on the run and find themselves in Galloway, Scotland, falsely accused of murder. Captured by smugglers, they become embroiled in a story of hatred and revenge that goes back generations: to the days of the Killing Times, when men, women and children were killed in the name of religion. As Will and Bess become entangled in the dangerous lives of this embittered family, both have choices to make which will test to the limit their courage. They must face the horrors of the terrifying smugglers’ caves, and everything they believe will be challenged. They may try to break the cycle of religious hatred that curses the land, but will their friendship survive?

It’s a story of hatred and anger going down the generations. There are many places in the world where hatred between religions causes tension, death and revenge. The only way to stop it is for someone to say, “Enough.” Either side could do it, but no one is ever brave enough. They’re brave enough to kill and torture but not brave enough to forgive and be forgiven.

In The Highwayman’s Curse, there’s a bitter old woman with a terrible scar on her face  from when she was branded by a soldier as a child. The soldier had tried to force her mother to swear loyalty to the King and not God. But her mother would not, and so she was drowned and her daughter was branded as she watched. This memory has stayed with the old woman and she is full of hatred for the Epsicopalians who had been responsible. But that is many years before, and the Killing Times are over. Should she not move on, forgive, put it behind her?

The launch for the book was held in a tiny 18th Century cottage in Galloway, with 80 school-kids and a TV crew!

WARNING: the scenes in the caves are terrifying

ANOTHER WARNING: there’s a very nasty incident with a snake, too …

Bookbag, reviewer Jill Murphy: “It’s as vivid and vital as the first book … as evocative of time and place as ever you could wish. …Clear-eyed, carefully structured and capable of analysis, yet vivid, energetic and motivational, I loved The Highwayman’s Curse just as much as I loved Morgan’s first book about Will and Bess. It’s everything you could ask for in an historical novel and it comes highly recommended by Bookbag.”

Waterstone’s, Sue Chambers from the Harrods branch: “The sequel to the Highwayman’s Footsteps and is as well written and gritty as that volume. Superb, atmospheric and glorious. Buy both and have a ball – absolutely WONDERFUL. Enjoy this adventure. I hope and trust there will be a third.”


A no-nonsense guide to everything you need to know about writing to be published. Universally praised by agents, publishers, tutors and writers. Aimed at adults.

The Crabbit Old Bat whips you into shape and helps you make a publisher say “YES!”

I am unappealingly proud of being the first Google result for the phrase Crabbit Old Bat. As you will know if you follow my original blog, Help! I Need a Publisher!, I do not suffer fools, let alone gladly. Publishers say Yes only when they believe they can find readers for your book; your job is to make sure you’ve written something that readers will buy; my job is to show you how not to mess up.

This book should never have gone out of print. It had universally wonderful feedback and is recommended by many publishers as the book all aspiring writers need to help them be published. Some examples follow and you’ll find more on Amazon.

Editor of The New Writer, Merric Davidson: “It’s here. At last! The book of the blog – and very probably the book of the century (so far) for all aspiring writers out there… This really is the real deal; the one book you should have by your side as you’re plotting and planning your career as a published writer. It is, without doubt, one of the most generous how to books you will come across and it’s written in a most approachable, informative style by the self-styled Crabbit Old Bat (check the blog!)….Invaluable advice, delivered with honesty and no little humour.”

Author, blogger and publisher, Scott Pack: “I receive a lot of emails from authors asking for guidance on how to take the next steps to publication. In future I will just point them in the direction of this book.”

Joanne Harris, multi-best-selling author of Chocolat and many more: “I’ve always generally mistrusted self-help books, especially those offering advice to would-be writers, a gullible lot at best, who should probably be saving their money. Nicola Morgan’s book is one of a very few exceptions. It offers excellent, practical, informed and unpatronizing advice to the published and the unpublished alike; exposes common fallacies; pokes fun at sacred cows; deflates pretensions; offers encouragement where deserved; admits to occasional “crabbitness”, but tells things as they really are in a world where success is increasingly hard to achieve. This is the tutor I wish I’d had when I was starting out: brisk, funny, just a little bit schoolmistressy, but an eminently sensible schoolmistress who knows her subject, doesn’t suffer fools and is not afraid to hand out detentions where necessary. In short, Nicola Morgan is made of crabbit – but she is also made of awesome.”

Mark Le Fanu, General Secretary of the Society of Authors: “A punchy and practical guide to the elusive business of writing a book that will appeal to publishers.”

Mary Hoffman: “Don’t leave the country without a passport and don’t submit your first manuscript without reading this book.”

Adele Geras: “I’ve followed Nicola’s blog since its beginning and because that’s full of good sense and what’s more, sense conveyed in a funny and likeable way, I for one can’t wait to read the book.”

Bookwitch: “… she writes the way I want to…She writes great children’s novels, but it’s Nicola’s non-fiction – and her shoes – that I’m willing to kill for… There is not a thing missing. Nicola deals with it all in her – how shall I put it? – calling-a-spade-a-spade style.”

David Belbin, Course Leader, Nottingham Trent University Creative Writing MA: “This book should be on the reading list of every creative writing course in the country.”

Karen Ball, publishing expert and commissioning publisher: “This is a must-have book for aspiring writers. I’d say it’s a must-have book for authors who already know their trade but want the opportunity to take stock. For me, it’s inspiring that someone can set up a blog, share key advice for free, and then see that blog become a book. It says a lot about publishing in the 21st century. … Nicola may have achieved that one thing that busy editors, struggling bookshops and expensive writing courses may have failed in. She could be changing lives.”


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