Julie Bertagna

‘The stories that spark my imagination are about young characters on the edge.’


Julie was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, and grew up near Glasgow where she lives with her family. After a Honours degree (English Language and Literature), she edited a magazine, taught and became a freelance journalist. She has written many critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels for teenagers and younger readers and is a Mentor for Scottish Book Trust’s New and Young Writer Awards. She speaks in schools, libraries and at book festivals across the UK.







Books are doors to different worlds, new adventures, other lives. They’ve helped me make sense of my own life and imagine what I could be and do.

I always wanted to be a writer but I thought that an ordinary girl in Scotland couldn’t do that. Didn’t you have to come from an artistic family and live somewhere exotic like Paris or London?

As a teenager, I published my first piece of fiction in my local newspaper - a review of my brother’s rock band. It really was fiction because the band were pretty bad but I gave them a brilliant review! That was the beginning of my career in publishing made up stories.

My first novel was inspired by pupils I was teaching in Glasgow, who wanted to read stories about kids like themselves. Almost no books set in contemporary Scotland existed then, so I decided to write one for them. I even used some of their real names and characters in the The Spark Gap, a story about homeless teenagers.

Then one day (right in the middle of changing a nappy) I had the best phone call ever. My story had found a publisher. It was going to be a book. My childhood dream had come true. I did my first-ever author event with another brand new writer called JK Rowling. We were both petrified. Since then, I’ve met a lot of my writing heroes. It’s one of the best bits of this writing job!

Stories are everywhere. You just have to keep your mind and eyes and ears open. But making ideas into good stories is hard work. It’s worth all the work when the world of the story takes you over and you become completely absorbed in making it the very best book it can be. You feel like a writing athlete, going for gold.

So on cold days at my writing desk (there are a lot of cold days in Scotland) I wear my Grand Slam hoodie. It once belonged to tennis star Andy Murray and though it’s far too big for me, it keeps me nice and cosy. I like to think it gives me some of his champion drive and stamina too because you need a whole lot of that for writing ace books!

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