In 2004, I wrote a novel that was very different from anything I had done before. A story about Colombian child assassins, Boy Kills Man paid no heed to happy endings. I didn’t see why I should sugar a very real, raw and shocking reality for kids caught up in gang culture. My editor, who was expecting a follow up to a teen comedy about skateboarding, took a deep breath and got behind it.
Close to publication, a report that an early reader of the book had been left traumatised made the pages of the Times Educational Supplement. This was mostly because I’d been quoted as saying that I was pleased. I felt it was better that the book provoked a reaction rather than be forgotten, and also served as a springboard for a conversation about violence and its impact on young people. Despite a slightly scary start – I worried it would be pulled – the book went on to be shortlisted for the BookTrust Teenage Book Award, and featured on various picks of the year.
I remain very proud of this book. A film is in development from the makers of Kidulthood and Wild Bill, while readers still get in touch with questions and comments.
Now, eight years after first publication, Boy Kills Man is available as an ebook. It’s downloadable from all the usual outlets, as well as a paperback reissue.
To mark publication, the ebook is priced at 99p for two weeks beginning on Friday 6th April.
Bold, chilling and beautifully written . . . it really left an ache behind.
“Stunning . . . all that is left is a feeling of sadness and loss. . . A fine achievement.”
“A powerful, affecting novel about lost youth, and a sharp evocation of one boy’s terrible passage from innocence to experience . . . a book we could all do with reading.”
Shortlisted for the 2007 De Jong Jury (Netherlands)
ALA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers 2006 (USA)
Shortlisted for the 2006 Wirral Paperback of the Year
Shortlisted for the 2005 Stockport Schools Book Award
Shortlisted for the 2004 Booktrust Teenage Prize
The Scotsman: Top Ten Teen Novels 2004
The Times: 2004 Picks
The Guardian 2004 Triumphs feature
Time Out: 2004 Critics’ Choice
RTE Rattlebag: Books of the Year 2004
BBC Radio 4 Front Row: Teen Books of the Year