David Belbin (1958-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1958, in Sheffield, England; Education: University of Nottingham, B.A. (with honors), 1980. Hobbies and other interests: Collecting books, comics, records, and CDs.
Agent—Jennifer Luithlen, The Rowans, 88 Holmfield Rd., Leicester LE2 1SB, England.
Worked variously as a street sweeper, conservation ranger, and credit union officer; teacher of English, drama, and media studies in Nottingham, England, 1985–94; writer, 1994–; Nottingham Trent University, senior lecturer in English and director of M.A. program in creative writing, 2002–.
Society of Authors.
Lancashire Book Award shortlist, 1998, for Dark Journey; North East Book Award, second prize, 2000, for Love Lessons, and shortlisted, 2001, for Dead Guilty; Leicester Book Award shortlist, 2002, for Festival.
FOR YOUNG ADULTS
The Foggiest, illustrated by Tim Beer, Hippo Books (London, England), 1990.
Shoot the Teacher ("Point Crime" series), Scholastic (London, England), 1993 published as Deadly Secrets, illustrated by David Wyatt, Scholastic (London, England), 1994, published with a new afterword as Dead Teachers Don't Talk, Five Leaves Press (Nottingham, England), 2003.
Final Cut (also see below), Scholastic (London, England), 1994.
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Avenging Angel (also see below), Scholastic (London, England), 1994.
Break Point, Scholastic (London, England), 1995.
Deadly Inheritance (also see below), Scholastic (London, England), 1996.
Dark Journey, Mammoth (London, England), 1997.
The David Belbin Collection: Three Degrees of Murder (contains Avenging Angel, Deadly Inheritance, and Final Cut), Scholastic (London, England), 1997.
Haunting Time (stories), Five Leaves Press (Nottingham, England), 1998.
Love Lessons, Scholastic (London, England), 1998.
Nicked!, illustrated by Liz McIntosh, Barrington Stokes (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1999, published without illustrations, 2004.
Dying for You ("Point Crime" series), Scholastic (London, England), 1999.
The Right Moment, A. amp; C. Black (London, England), 2000.
Runaway Train, Puffin (London, England), 2000.
Witness, Heinemann (Oxford, England), 2000.
Festival, Hodder Children's (London, England), 2001.
Harpies, Barrington Stoke (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2001.
Dead Guilty, Five Leaves Press (Nottingham, England), 2001.
The Last Virgin, Hodder Children's (London, England), 2002.
Boy King, A. & C. Black (London, England), 2002.
Gambler, illustrated by Keith Page, Heinemann (Oxford, England), 2002.
Coma, illustrated by Jon Rogers, Barrington Stoke (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2004.
Denial, Hodder Children's (London, England), 2004.
Shouting at the Stars "Shades" series), Evans (London, England), 2005.
Author's works have been translated into several languages.
"THE BEAT" SERIES
Missing Person, Scholastic (London, England), 1995.
Black and Blue, Scholastic (London, England), 1995.
Smokescreen, Scholastic (London, England), 1996.
Asking for It, Scholastic (London, England), 1996.
Dead White Male, Scholastic (London, England), 1997.
Losers, Scholastic (London, England), 1997.
Sudden Death, Scholastic (London, England), 1998.
Night Shift, Scholastic (London, England), 1998.
Victims, Scholastic (London, England), 1998.
Suspects, Scholastic (London, England), 1999.
Fallen Angel, Scholastic (London, England), 2000.
(Editor) City of Crime (stories; for adults), Five Leaves Publications (Nottingham, England), 1997.
(Editor with John Lucas) Stanley Middleton at Eighty, Five Leaves Publications(Nottingham, England), 1999.
The E-Bay Book: Essential Tips for Buying and Selling on E-bay.co.uk, Harriman House (Hampshire, England), 2004, second revised edition, 2005.
Short fiction represented in anthologies, including Thirteen More Tales of Horror; Thirteen Again; Chilling Christmas Tales; Thirteen Murder Mysteries; Literacy World; Best Short Stories of the Year 1993, Heinemann, 1994; The Minerva Book of Short Stories 6, Minerva; and New Writing, Shoestring Press, 2002. Author of film scripts for UNICEF; contributor to periodicals, including Ambit.
Dying for You was adapted as an audiobook by Chivers Press, 2000.
Work in Progress
A new edition of Stanley Middleton's Harris's Requiem for Trent Editions.
David Belbin is an author as well as an educator; his career as one of Great Britain's most popular youngadult crime writers has paralleled his stint as a secondary school and university-level English teacher. Belbin began publishing short fiction for adults in 1989, and his first novel for young adults, The Foggiest, was released in 1990. Among his many books for teens are Dying for You, which focuses on four orphans who be-come famous pop stars only to find their careers derailed by murder, and Dead Guilty, in which a young man finds himself framed for murder.
According to Belbin, his biggest break came in 1993, when Shoot the Teacher appeared as the first title in the "Point Crime" series. Its success enabled him to become a full-time writer. In addition to penning standalone crime novels, chapter books for reluctant readers, and stories for middle-grade readers, he has also had success with a second novel series, the "Beat" books. Beginning in 1994 with Avenging Angel, the series focuses on Clare Coppola, an Anglo-Italian student who readers meet while she is attempting to find the hit-and-run driver who killed her younger brother. In the eleven other "Beat" novels, Clare makes police work her live-lihood, and Missing Person, Suspects, and Fallen Angel focus on Clare and her fellow young police officers.
"Young adult fiction scarcely existed when I was a teenager," Belbin once told SATA. "I only discovered it in
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my mid-twenties, when I was training to be an English teacher. Excited by the work of writers like Robert Cormier and Robert Westall, I decided to have a go at writing a young adult novel of my own. This became The Foggiest, which was eventually published five years later, in 1990.
"I mostly write the kind of books that I would have liked to read when I was twelve or thirteen. They're often stories with twisted plots which open up the adult world and seem to appeal particularly to boys. My two most popular books, Shoot the Teacher and Final Cut, a mystery set in the film world, are examples of this. 'The Beat' is more serious, dealing with moral and social issues in a total of twelve novels about young police officers in Nottingham, where I live."
Belbin's most well-known book is Love Lessons, which was published in 1998. "It is a full-length novel which examines the machinations and morality of a sexual affair between a male English teacher and a fifteen-year-old female student," Belbin explained. "I wrote the first draft as an adult novel. The young-adult version took me nearly ten years and a brave editor to get right, but it turned out to be a better book for it." Denial, released in 2004, deals with a similar theme—a teacher accused of molesting a student—and is even more shocking.
In addition to his works for young adults, Belbin has also produced a number of short stories for adult readers, and has even written a nonfiction book, The E-Bay Book: Essential Tips for Buying and Selling on E-bay.co.uk, which had its roots in his hobby of buying and selling rare record albums and CD's. "I am often asked what the difference is between writing for adults and writing for younger people," he commented to SATA: "The answer: not much. There is less sex and swearing, sure, but there are ways of implying what you need to communicate so that the more mature reader understands what is going on. I don't use a difficult word or complicated syntax when something simpler would do the job, but neither do my favorite writers. I like a clean, considered style, not one that shows off."
Belbin began lecturing at Nottingham Trent University in 2002, and in 2004 he organized the United Kingdom's first national conference on young-adult fiction. Called Turning Point, the conference featured a stellar cast of speakers: in addition to Belbin, Melvin Burgess, Anne Cassidy, David Fickling, Keith Gray, Nicola Morgan, Beverley Naidoo, and Bali Rai also presented their insights into writing YA literature.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Books for Keeps, January, 1996, p. 11; July, 1996, p. 12.
School Librarian, November, 1993, pp. 164-165; summer, 1999, review of Victims, p. 98; autumn, 1999, review of Dying for You, p. 154; spring, 2000, review of Nicked!, p. 43; winter, 2000, review of Runaway Train, p. 191; summer, 2001, review of The Right Moment, p. 70, and Fallen Angel, p. 99.
School Library Journal, August, 2001, Tina Hudak, review of Dying for You, p. 91.
Times Educational Supplement, November 29, 1991, John Mole, "Haunting Christmas Tales," p. 24; March 13, 1998, Geraldine Brennan, review of Love Lessons, p. C14; May 16, 2003, Victoria Neumark, "Boy Talk," p. 26.
David Belbin Web site, http://www.davidbelbin.com (September 15, 2005).
Jubilee Books Web site, http://www.jubileebooks.co.uk/ (September 15, 2005), "David Belbin."