N.M. Browne (1960–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
(Nicola Matthews, Nicky Matthews Browne)
Born 1960, in Burnley, Lancashire, England; Education: New College, Oxford, B.A. (philosophy and theology; with honors), 1983; Kings College, Cambridge, P.G.C.E.; Manchester Business School, M.B.A., 1987. Politics: "Liberal/Left." Religion: Church of England (Anglican). Hobbies and other interests: "Singing (badly), walking, rowing a Thames skiff, socialising."
Agent—Mic Cheetham, 11/12 Dover St., London W1S 4LJ, England.
Writer and business executive. Worked as a teacher in Kettering, Northamptonshire, England, 1984–85; Shell International, London, England, marketing executive, 1987–89; Shell UK, marketing executive, 1989–91; writer and "full-time mum," beginning 1991.
British Society of Authors, Scattered Authors Society.
Lancashire Book Award runner-up, 2000, for Warriors of Alavna; Carnegie Medal nomination, 2004, for Basilisk.
YOUNG-ADULT FANTASY NOVELS
Warriors of Alavna, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2000, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2002.
Hunted, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Warriors of Camlann (sequel to Warriors of Alavna), Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2003.
Basilisk, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2004.
The Story of Stone, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2005.
UNDER NAME NICOLA MATTHEWS
The Extraordinary Lightening Conductor, illustrated by Rachel Pearce, Bloomsbury (London, England), 1995.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Joe Sloop, Bloomsbury (London, England), 1995.
"I Don't Like Space Glop!" ("Crazy Gang" reader series), illustrated by Eleanor Taylor, Bloomsbury (London, England), 1998.
"Og Fo," Says the Space Bug ("Crazy Gang" reader series), illustrated by Eleanor Taylor, Bloomsbury (London, England), 1998.
Pets Just Want to Have Fun! ("Crazy Gang" reader series), illustrated by Eleanor Taylor, Bloomsbury (London, England), 1998.
This Is Yum! ("Crazy Gang" reader series), illustrated by Eleanor Taylor, Bloomsbury (London, England), 1998.
"Is That a Dog in the Sky?" ("Crazy Gang" reader series), illustrated by Eleanor Taylor, Bloomsbury (London, England), 1999.
Work in Progress
The Spellgrinder's Apprentice; Googol.
Beginning her writing career authoring simple but humorous stories for fledgling readers under the name Nicola Matthews, British author N.M. Browne has gained a following among young-adult fans of her fantasy novels. Warriors of Alavna and its sequel, Warriors of Camlann, follow two modern-day teens who pass through a phenomenon called the Veil and find themselves transported back in time. Shifts in time also figure in Hunted, in which a teen named Karen lies in a coma as the result of a vicious attack. While her body is comatose, her spirit has morphed into an "arl": moving to another realm of being, it has taken the shape of a fox. Now confronting a host of new dangers in her fox shape, Karen befriends a shepherd and slowly begins to understand and deal with her new reality. In Publishers Weekly a contributor praised Hunted for its "fight scenes, escapes and revelations," adding that Browne "cleverly mixes fantasy and action." Noting that the author brings to life her alternative world "with subtlety and style," a Kirkus Reviews critic added that the book mixes "shapeshifting with a complexly realized fantasy world in a fast-paced plot."
Basilisk is the story of a fantasy world where outcasts live below the once-beautiful city of Lunnzia, a place where people's station in life is predetermined and assigned and society above-ground has disintegrated into chaos. Rej, a Comber who lives in the subterranean world of Below, and Donna, one of the Abovers, come together as a result of their shared dreams of dragons and basilisks. Confronted with a murder Rej knows he must solve, the pair soon discover a plot that threatens to destroy the gentle Combers. Reviewing Basilisk, Hillias J. Martin commented in School Library Journal that, "once hooked,… patient readers will enjoy the spooky atmosphere [and] … intriguing and often untrustworthy characters," found in Browne's tale. A Kirkus Reviews critic called the novel "suspenseful and rather original," while in the London Times Amanda Craig compared Browne's story to H.G. Wells's The Time Machine, writing that in Basilisk the author draws readers into "an entirely different world whose strangeness and detail exert a hypnotic pull on the reader."
Browne told SATA: "I wanted to be a writer as a child, but did not really do anything about it until I was on a career break after having given birth to my second child. My father, a painter, had died not long before and with a lot of encouragement from my sister, who is also a painter, I realized that if I was ever going to fulfill that ambition I should 'seize the day.'
"In the first place I write to entertain both myself and, I hope, my readers. I want to give readers the strong sense of having been elsewhere, to a real but different place for the duration of my novels.
"I would love to say I get up at 6:00 am every day and, after a work out and a small cup of lemon tea, work for eight hours straight, but it wouldn't be true. I work my writing round my kids' school day and fit in a little socializing and coffee drinking as often as possible. I am nowhere near as disciplined as I'd like to be.
"I loved C.S. Lewis, Rosemary Sutcliffe, and Alan Garner as a child but also enjoyed Biggles and 'Just William' and all the science fiction I could get my hands on. In general I enjoy anything with a powerful atmosphere and a certain weirdness. I have probably been influenced by every book I've ever read and every film I've ever seen. I think this is a perfect time to be a book-loving child, even if it is a depressing time to be an author: there is just so much brilliant writing around at the moment—far too much competition.
"I think there is only one piece of advice I'd give to an aspiring writer or illustrator: 'Just do it!' That's it."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, April 15, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Basilisk, p. 1450.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 2002, review of Warriors of Alavna, p. 50; July-August, 2004, Timnah Card, review of Basilisk, p. 457.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2003, review of Warriors of Camlann, p. 746; June 1, 2002, review of Hunted, p. 801; September 1, 2002, review of Warriors of Alavna, p. 1305; April 15, 2004, review of Basilisk, p. 391.
Kliatt, July, 2002, Paula Rohrlick, review of Hunted, p. 7.
Library Media Connection, February, 2005, Stephanie L. Dobson, review of Basilisk, p. 74.
Locus, May, 2004, Carolyn Cushman, review of Basilisk.
Publishers Weekly, July 1, 2002, review of Hunted, p. 80; April 14, 2003, review of Warriors of Camlann, p. 72; April 19, 2004, review of Basilisk, p. 62.
School Librarian, winter, 2000, review of Warriors of Alavna, p. 211; summer, 2002, review of Hunted, p. 99; winter, 2003, review of Warriors of Camlann, p. 207; autumn, 2004, Susan Elkin, review of Basilisk, p. 155.
School Library Journal, August, 2002, Beth Wright, review of Hunted, p. 182; January, 2003, review of Warriors of Alavna, p. 133; July, 2003, Patricia A. Dollish, review of Warriors of Camlann, p. 124; June, 2004, Hillias J. Martin, review of Basilisk, p. 135.
Times (London, England), April 3, 2004, Amanda Craig, review of Basilisk.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2003, review of Warriors of Alavna, p. 485; June, 2003, review of Warriors of Camlann, p. 146; August, 2004, review of Basilisk, p. 227.
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