After many years writing novels for adult readers, I had an idea for a story which seemed more suited to a teenage audience. It opened with a newspaper delivery boy seeing a ghostly face at the window of an apparently deserted house. Its title, unsurprisingly, was The Face at the Window. I never wrote that novel, because I realised not too far into a first draft, that the rest of the story was rubbish.
So I wrote Flip instead.
This began with a fairly simplistic idea about swapped identities, two look-alike boys agreeing to switch lives and impersonate one another. From that rather unoriginal starting point, the somewhat different plot evolved that eventually became Flip.
As a teenager, I didn’t much like myself. I often wondered what it would be like to be someone else. Someone better looking, more popular, more athletic, more successful with girls. Someone who didn’t have asthma. Real life never made that possible so I created Alex and let it happen to him.
Anyway, here’s some information about Flip and my other novels for teenagers, or what publishers generally refer to as the 12+ or teen/YA (young adult) market…
Twenty Questions for Gloria
Twenty Questions for Gloria is the story of a bored and restless 15-year-old girl enthralled by the mysterious, exotic new boy who strolls into her classroom one morning, bent on breaking all the rules. Funny, confident, smart and reckless, Uman is everything Gloria wishes to be.
When he whisks her away from the life she loathes and into a more daring, more exciting one, she jumps at the chance of an adventure. But Uman is not all he seems. And by the time she learns the truth about him, she is a long way from home and the whole country wants to know: ‘Where’s Gloria?’
Praise for Twenty Questions for Gloria:
The set-up is thriller-like but what’s impressive about this story is its realism. What looks like an endorsement of thoughtless rebellion becomes something deeper. Yet under it all is a golden thread of romance.
(Suzi Feay, Financial Times)
This book has been written in a really unique and interesting way. [It] feels like it should be a Sherlock Holmes style novel and I mean that in the best way possible because it has that allure and mystery, and yet still keeps it humble with its quirky characters, romance-on-the-side . . . it’s an amazing novel to read.
(The Guardian online)
This whole story is emotionally perceptive and impeccably written. It deserves to be read.
(Nicholas Tucker, Books for Keeps; 5-star review)
A brilliant, tense thriller. (Anne Cassidy, author of Looking for JJ)
Bedford perfectly captures the language, playfulness, sensibilities and fluctuating moods of teenagers – without ever being patronising – as well as their contradictory sense of restlessness, confusion and certainty, all conveyed with a lightness of touch, plenty of humour and a strand of tender, tentative romance.
Thriller fans will be as enthralled by this book as Gloria is by Uman’s free-spiritedness. It’s exquisitely plotted and the existential undercurrent gives it an additional edge of intrigue. An absorbing psychological thriller.
This novel makes a refreshing change from all the ‘noisier’ YA fiction currently on the market. It is a clever, compelling story with fully realised characters who don’t have to wield a weapon or possess super powers in order to engage the reader.
(Lovely Treez Reads)
Martyn Bedford cleverly combines mystery, thriller and coming-of-age elements in this novel, making me want to change my life in some way or another and to never think inside the box again.
(flipped novel, on Tumblr)
This book had a sense of mystery that had me on my toes until the end. (The Fictional Realm)
The witty banter between Gloria and Uman will appeal to teens who love books with quirky dialogue and zingy one-liners, which also provide a refreshing and authentic counterpoint to the darker themes that run through the story.
(American School Library Journal)
Martyn Bedford’s first young adult novel, Flip, won multiple awards and Twenty Questions for Gloria seems destined to do the same. Bedford writes beautifully.
(CM Magazine, Canada)
Twenty Questions for Gloria throws you into a shroud of secrets and mysteries right from the get-go. This book had me in its trance.
A cracking tale. (Northern Life)
What a fantastic book! Martyn Bedford’s writing is incredibly suspenseful and gripping, and once I started reading Twenty Questions for Gloria I HAD to know what would happen next.
(pagetostagereviews.com, 5-star review)
Martyn Bedford’s characters are exquisitely written and he does a really great job of delving into the teenage psyche. This beautiful exploration of young love, resilience, self-examination and discovery will have both teens and adults smitten.
(Mabel’s Fables Bookstore, Toronto, 5-star review)
A heart-pounding, edge of my seat, tantalising thriller. Before I started the book, I was in a horrifyingly dull reading slump . . . this broke me out of it! I was begging to see what happened next, it physically pained me to put it down. This is such an amazing book.
(The Sleepy BookNerd, 5-star review)
This is an outstanding novel which poses big questions while immersing the reader in a fast-moving narrative.
(The School Librarian)
Taut and mysterious…Bedford’s skilful writing will draw in teens who identify with the urge to cast off the mundane and find their place in the world. (Booklist, U.S.)
An unusual and rather wonderful story… a book about living life and not allowing it to go by.
(Sue & Pakka’s blog)
Enjoyable read, beautifully written. (Confessions of a Book Geek)
Dropping clues with absolute control over the novel’s trajectory, Bedford builds tension from the initial interview to the surprising final scene. (The Horn Book, U.S.)
Original, tender and thought-provoking. I highly recommend this book! (Edel’s blogspot)
This book is wonderful in so many ways. Bedford’s writing is moving and witty and the way the story is told creates drama and mystery, leaving you on the edge of your seat. I hope that every Y.A. reader takes the time to be sucked into the brilliance that is Twenty Questions For Gloria.
(Emma, 9th grade, Moscow High School, Idaho)
Twenty Questions for Gloria has been a resounding success with the teenagers of Coventry, no doubt due to the vivid, relatable characters Martyn has created, but also thanks to the artistry of this complex and thrilling plot.
(Cassandra Kemp, Coventry Schools Library Service, organisers of the 2017 Coventry Inspiration Book Awards)
This is a coming of age tale with a twist. A gripping tale that I was reluctant to put down. It should definitely be on your reading list.
(Escapades of a Bookworm)
I really enjoyed this book. I was hooked from the get go.
(The Overflowing Library)
Awards . . .
Won: Coventry Inspiration Book Awards
Shortlisted: Ysgol Bae Baglan Book Awards
Longlisted: ABA South Coast Book Awards
Longlisted: Redbridge Teenage Book Award
Nominated: Carnegie Medal
Selected: Best New Children’s Books, 2016 (The Guardian)
Selected: Best Children’s Books of the Year 14+ (Bank Street College, New York)
Sneak preview . . . to hear me read an exclusive extract from Twenty Questions for Gloria, please click on this link to a YouTube podcast of an interview I did for Wordspace Radio at Leeds Trinity University. The first part of the podcast features a reading and a discussion about the book.
UK: Walker Books (February 2014)
U.S.: Wendy Lamb Books – Random House (March 2014)
Canada: Doubleday – Random House (March 2014)
Germany: DTV (2015)
Poland: Foksal (2015)
UK Audiobook: W.F.Howes (2014)
When a family holiday ends in tragedy, the grieving parents’ marriage is left in ruins and, Shiv, their 15-year-old daughter, is tormented by what happened … and her part in it. Off the rails and unable to live with her guilt, Shiv is sent away to an exclusive clinic that claims to “cure” people like her.
But this is no ordinary psychiatric institution and Shiv discovers that her release – from her demons, and from the clinic itself – will come, if it comes at all, at a bizarre and terrible price.
Praise for Never Ending:
I was absolutely hooked from the start. The relationship between Nikos and Shiv is very different than any love story I have read. Just grab it and read it!
(The Guardian online)
Siobhan’s family is close and loving, and their holidays together indulgent and laughter-filled, until the last one in Greece, when she builds herself a secret life with a local boy, and tragedy follows. The pace is perfectly judged so that readers leaf through the holiday album with breath held.
(Geraldine Brennan, The Observer)
A slickly moulded thriller . . . Martyn Bedford’s Never Ending [is] a sophisticated account of how a teenage girl deals with the death of her brother. Bedford engages successfully with the teen psyche and deals sensitively with his troubling subject matter, while precisely evoking family dynamics and the sweltering confusion of adolescence.
(Philip Womack, Literary Review)
Addictive and harrowing from the outset, Never Ending is an acutely observed, meticulous rendering of a mind in crisis and a family at war with itself . . . utterly arresting reading.
(Imogen Russell Williams, Metro)
What can I say once I’ve said I wish I’d written it? It’s the greatest teen novel ever to come my way and I don’t expect to find a better.
Robert Swindells, Carnegie Medal winning author
Beautiful and illuminating. The characters and the scenery are rendered with such photographic precision that readers will feel as though they’re watching a film. They’ll also find Bedford’s compellingly blunt, sharply drawn narrative sometimes too painful to read. The results, however, are absolutely worth it.
(Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
The author does a lovely job of highlighting the in-jokes, good-natured ribbing, and high-running emotions of a family on vacation, and he draws out the mystery behind what actually happened to Declan, creating a tension that will keep readers curious until the final page.
(Publishers Weekly, U.S.)
Bedford skilfully pushes and pulls at the reader’s emotions while carefully revealing the details of the backstory and the aftermath until the two converge. Hand this compelling novel to readers who thrive on complex narratives.
(Booklist, U.S., starred review)
An edgy, brilliantly told story with a strong teen-girl protagonist. An unforgettable story that will stay in readers’ minds long after they finish the book.
(Lovereading4kids, Book of the Month)
Martyn Bedford explores the raw edges of bereavement and grief in a funny, moving, no-nonsense and yet supremely sensitive novel. Never Ending is a journey to hell illuminated by the bright promise of redemption. Beautiful and beguiling.
(Pam Norfolk, Lancaster Guardian)
Such narratives can easily descend into gratuitous pain, but Martyn Bedford writes far too well for that . . . [a] fine and serious novel.
(Books for Keeps, 5-star review)
Martyn Bedford’s new book for teenagers is relentlessly thrilling. Never Ending will keep you glued to the page with anticipation as it plunges you deeper into Shiv’s grief.
An honest and truthful account of grief and healing and all the characters are so well drawn that this becomes an intense reading experience with genuine psychological insights for thoughtful teenagers. Never Ending grips the reader in an emotional vice.
I highly recommended this book. Never Ending was beautiful inside and out and was definitely a hook, line and sinker for me. I cannot wait to read more from Martyn Bedford.
(Once Upon A Twilight, U.S. book blog)
A brilliant and wonderful read that I would easily recommend to others. It is incredibly well-written and I was, quite honestly, taken aback at how invested I got into the story.
(A Daydreamer’s Thoughts, book blog)
The plot and characters are so good and believable that, when I was reading it, I couldn’t believe Bedford had thought of this amazing idea.
(The Sweet Review, 5-star review)
Awards . . .
In the UK:
Shortlisted: Essex Book Award
Shortlisted: Hull Book Awards
Nominated: Carnegie Medal
In the U.S.:
Young Adult Library Services Association – Best Fiction for Young Adults (nominated).
Kirkus – Best Teen Books of 2014 (listed).
One morning 14-year-old Alex wakes up to find himself in the wrong bedroom, in an unfamiliar house, in a different part of the country. Six months have disappeared overnight. The family at the breakfast table are total strangers.
And when he looks in the mirror, another boy’s face stares back. A boy named Flip.
With no idea what has happened, or how to switch back again, or who “he” is anymore, Alex finds himself in a deadly race against time to save himself from being trapped forever in the wrong life.
Praise for Flip:
Bedford’s taut style and psychological insight make Flip a gripping thriller. (Amanda Craig, The Times)
A serious contemplation on what constitutes the soul.
(Dinah Hall, Sunday Telegraph)
Flip swept us all along. Thanks to Martyn Bedford’s masterly balance of tension and wit, this unique fusion of the surreal and the everyday proved utterly convincing.
(Judges’ shortlist citation, Costa Children’s Book Award)
Martyn Bedford has done something all of us are aiming for. He has taken a prodigious inventiveness and applied it to a timeless and heartfelt adolescent search for self. Readers will thrill to getting lost and found with Flip. (Chris Lynch, author of Who the Man, Inexcusable and Freewill)
Flip is an amazing book. The plot is thrilling and the characters are superb. I absolutely adored this book . . . a must read.
(The Guardian online edition)
Flip is a funny, creative and amazing read.
(Live magazine, 5-star review)
Readers will be catapulted headfirst into Alex’s strange new world. What is a soul? Where does it go when its human host ceases to function? Bedford adeptly sweeps the existential curtain aside and tackles these heavy questions as the tension soars.
(starred review, kirkusreviews.com)
A moving tale that juggles realistic high school fiction with fantasy while deftly avoiding cliches from both genres. Bedford does an excellent job of getting into the mind of a teenager . . . engrossing. (Publishers Weekly, U.S.)
An enthralling novel . . . an enticing mystery.
(Gold Coast Bulletin, Australia)
Flip is captivating from beginning to end, with rich characters and a fascinating mystery. The story is also superbly written and brings out many themes that will leave you pondering when you’re done. Highly recommended. (James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner)
This is a compelling read . . . there are moments of pure comedy, romance and sadness, frustration and poignancy. It is a book that would open the mind of any questioning young reader to explore who they really are. (Judy Deacon, Inis magazine, Dublin)
If you think a novel about a teenager trapped in another teen’s body can only be run-of-the-mill stuff with nowhere new to go, Flip will knock you sideways. This debut young adults’ novel by Martyn Bedford is a brilliant, totally gripping psychological thriller that is impossible to put down. (John Millen, South China Morning Post, Hong Kong.)
The set-up is a very familiar scenario for sf/fantasy readers but Bedford handles it in such a way that it feels like we’re visiting it for the first time. Highly recommended.
(Charles de Lint, Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, U.S.)
A convincing school story as well as an intelligent, probing character study. Bedford pushes readers to query, ever more rigorously, the meaning of identity and adaptation. (Toronto Star, Canada)
Whatever the top prize is for young adult literature, Martyn Bedford has written this year’s unquestionable winner. Bedford’s writing is brilliant and captivating. (Kidlit Reviews, U.S. – 5 stars)
Flip is also published in Canada (Doubleday), and in translation in Italy (Mondadori), Germany (DTV), the Netherlands (Gottmer), Thailand (Tawansong), Russia (Kariera Press), Taiwan (Global), China (Changsha Senxin) and Poland (Foksal), along with audiobook editions in the UK (Audible) and the U.S. (Brilliance).
Awards . . .
As well as being a Red House Children’s Book Award Pick of the Year title, Flip has won or been in contention for 15 prizes in the UK:
Won: Sheffield Children’s Book Award; Calderdale Book of the Year; Bay Book Award; Immanuel College Book Award.
Shortlisted: Costa Children’s Book Award; Angus Book Award; Coventry Inspiration Young People’s Book Awards; Essex Book Award; Hull Book Awards; Leeds Book Awards; The Big Sandwell Read; Yorkshire Coast Book Award.
Longlisted: Carnegie Medal; Branford Boase Award; UKLA Children’s Book Award.
Flip has also won several nominations in the U.S.:
Junior Library Guild Selection.
School Library Journal – Best Books of 2011.
Young Adult Library Services Association – Readers’ Choice Nomination.
American Library Association – 2012 Quick Picks list.
Bank Street College, New York – 2012 Best Children’s Books of the Year.
International Reading Association – Young Adult Reading List 2012.
Texas Library Association – Texas High School Reading List 2012-13.
Arkansas Teen Book Award 2013 – nominated.
Isinglass Teen Read Award (New Hampshire) 2012-13 – nominated.
Florida Teen Reads 2012-13.
Note: for my teenage/young adult novels, I am represented by Stephanie Thwaites at the Curtis Brown literary agency in London.