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Celia Rees, Author
Visit Celia's website at
When did you first decide that you wanted to become an author?

I am not the type of author who started writing as soon as I could hold a pen.

When I was at school, my teachers were not too enthusiastic about my literary efforts, so I didn't even think about writing until I'd been teaching English for quite a few years.

The change came when I had a year off to study for a Masters Degree. Part of the course was creative writing.

To my surprise, the tutor liked what I wrote and said it was good. He also encouraged us to write with our students when we were back in school.

Wild and beautiful, spoilt and wilful, Sovay finds that her life has not prepared her for being a highway robber, for defending her family's honour or for saving herself from corruption and evil. As she becomes more embroiled in her adventures, a story of intrigue, passions and sinister intentions is revealed...

300 years after Witch Child, Agnes, a native American Indian girl discovers that she is linked to Mary by more than blood. Some of Mary's special powers have been passed down to Agnes and it is only through her that Mary's story can be told.

The Bailey Game

Even if she doesn't believe in the ghost of Michael Bailey, Alex Lewis is still haunted by the memory of playing the vicious Bailey Game, which led to his death. When a new girl arrives at school, Alex refuses to play and is faced with an even greater danger...

The Cunning Man

Finn hates water. She is haunted by terrifying nightmares, which have been worse since she and her family moved to Cornwall. When she discovers the curse that was laid upon the cottage, she knows that she is in mortal danger.

Blood Sinister

Ellen's just sixteen but she's dying-and nobody knows why. As she reads her great-grandmother's diaries, it becomes difficult to distinguish her own life from the events in the diaries. Is the past destroying her or do the diaries hold the key to her survival?

Shining on

Some of the best contemporary authors have contributed stories about  teenagers overcoming obstacles to enjoy their lives

This is a collection of stories in aid of the Teen Cancer Trust.

The Vanished

It started as a playground story of plague graves, vanished children and hidden steps leading to a festering underworld but when another child goes missing, Fraser wonders if there's some truth in the tales.
Witch Child

When her grandmother is accused of being a witch, Mary flees 17th century England and sails across the seas to start a new life in America. She is hopeful when she joins a new community but her past soon catches up with her...

The Stone Testament

Zillah survives when the members of her cult are ordered to commit suicide but the secret that she keeps places her in danger. Meanwhile, when Adam discovers his father's history of occult practice, he realises that someone wants them out of the way...

The Soul Taker

Lewis is unhappy, overweight and unpopular so when Mr. Jardine offers to help him win Lisa,  Lewis is only too eager to follow his advice. The problem is that Jardine is a spirit thief - a Soul Taker - and he wants Lisa's soul for himself...


When Nancy's father dies, she is sent to the West Indies to marry for the good of her remaining family. She soon becomes friends with Minerva, one of the staff at her new home and when Nancy is driven to murder, they become fugitives...

The Wish House

In 1976, Richard spent a summer with gorgeous Clio but as he became more involved with her family's decadent life, he discovered that outward appearances could hide complicated and twisted relationships.

City of Shadows

In the midsummer of his twelfth birthday, Davey becomes separated from his cousins and his sister on a tour of an underground city. He is drawn towards a large, hazy mirror and when his reflection blurs, he finds himself in land of ghosts...
I began to write shorter pieces and stories, and listened to my pupils when they said what they wanted to read.

They liked exciting stories, thrillers and chillers, but most of those books were American. They wanted the action to be set in Britain, involving ordinary kids like them.

At around the same time, someone told me a true story, which fitted the bill exactly, so I thought I'd try turning it into a thriller for teenagers.

This became my first novel, Every Step You Take. I began writing it in 1989 and it was published by Macmillan in 1993.
How did you celebrate when your first book was published?

I don't remember. The most exciting thing for me was seeing the cover with my name on it and having my own ISBN number.

What inspires you to write?

It depends what you mean by inspiration. I always start with an idea, and ideas can come from anywhere: something you read, see or hear, a film, a play, a song, a story someone tells you, an object in a museum, a picture in a gallery. 

Often a couple of things connect together, gain a new significance and you begin to think of a story.
What advice do you have for young writers?

Read a lot of fiction in the genre that interests you. Reading other authors is the best way to learn how to write.

Write because you want to write, not because you want to be published. Learn your craft first, being published can come later.

Keep a notebook, record any ideas you have, anything you see that interests you, pictures, postcards, newspaper cuttings.

Never throw anything away, keep any scraps, fragments of writing; you never know when they might come in useful. Keep writing and be persistent.
Do you have a special pen to write with or a special place in which you work?

I write straight onto a computer. I write in my study at home.

I have a notice board in front of me which is covered with pictures to do with what I am writing.

My desk is covered in little objects: shells, a compass, a fossilized shark's tooth, a box made out of bone.

The front covers of your books are very striking. Do you choose the images?

The publishers get to choose the images, although I am consulted.
What have you worked on recently?

I have been working on a book called Illyria, based on Twelfth Night.

Who is your favourite author and what is your favourite book?

Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace.

Tell us a secret...

If I told you, it would not be a secret…
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Celia Rees read History and Politics at University and was an English teacher for more than 10 years before publishing her first novel Every Step You Take in 1993; she has since written more than 20 books and short stories for young adults.

Celia's first books were inspired by her childhood memories and teenage interests while her more recent novels such as Witch Child and Sorceress have shown her passion for American History.

In 2001, Witch Child was shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and in 2002, for the North East Book Award while Sorceress was shortlisted for the 2003 Whitbread Children's Book Award.
Visit the Witch Child website at
Images courtesy of Celia Rees
We asked Celia...
Some of Celia's books for teenage readers...
"ideas can come from anywhere..."
Celia's noticeboard for 'Sovay'
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