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James Riordan James Riordan

James Riordan did a lot of things: university professor, footballer (Moscow Spartak), minor spy, storyteller, broadcaster and radical. His autobiography, COMRADE JIM, tells all. Sometimes he got his different hats mixed up. Best of all he enjoyed writing stories for young people: from picture books for toddlers (MY GRR-GREAT UNCLE TIGER) to novels, often about war which he remembered vividly. He won a few literary prizes,– his first novel SWEET CLARINET won the National Association for Special Education Needs award in 1998 and was short-listed for the Whitbread Prize.

For most of his novels, he travelled to the home of the story, whether Jamaica for REBEL CARGO, Stalingrad for THE SNIPER, and South Africa for his last novel MARATHON MAN to see, hear, smell, taste and touch the places he wrote about.

Jim died in February 2012.


When The Guns Fall Silent When The Guns Fall Silent

Jack, standing among the war graves, sees a face he recognizes. Suddenly, it's 1914 again and he's a young boy in the trenches. Visions of killing and misery come to him with horrible clarity. But then Jack remembers the incredible moment when the guns fell silent and fighting gave way to football on the frozen ground of No-Man's Land. This amazing story is based on true facts from the first world war. Even in times of conflict and sadness, there is always hope.

UK: Oxford University Press 2013    Translation: OUP

War Song War Song

James's superb novel about women at war is now FILM OPTIONED

Blood Runner Blood Runner

Samuel Gquibela’s parents and sister die in a bloody massacre. His brothers retaliate by joining the anti-Apartheid movement, with guns and terrorism as their weapons. But Sam decides to fight prejudice in his own way – as a runner. Against all odds – from a poor township childhood to the Bantu homelands, from work in a gold-mine to competing for gold – he focuses his mind, body and heart on the long, hard race to freedom

Sniper Sniper


Stalingrad 1942: Teenager Tanya Chernova is recruited as a teenage sniper to seek out and shoot German officers. At first, she finds it almost impossible to kill, but a shocking discovery soon changes that. Following capture and a daredevil escape Tanya leads a handpicked unit on a hazardous mission - to sieze the Commander in Chief of the invading army. THE SNIPER is based on true events.

UK: Frances Lincoln        June 2009        50,000 words