Clive Gifford


Shortlisted Book

Space in 30 Seconds

Space in 30 Seconds

Best Fact Book (9 - 11 years)


Clive Gifford started writing books at the age of 16 and hasn’t stopped since! He has travelled to over 70 countries, worked in jobs as varied as a radio DJ and road line painter, climbed rocket launch towers, ridden on robots and flown gliders. Most of the time, though, he's been busy writing and has had over 150 books published, most of which are for children and young adults. Clive lives in Manchester and his books have been nominated for or won Royal Society, School Library Association, Blue Peter, Smithsonian and TES awards.

Author Q&A

How does it feel to be shortlisted for the Best Book awards?

I’m very proud. It is wonderful for our book and the team behind it to receive this recognition. I’m passionate about producing information books for children that excite, explain and inspire. It takes a lot of hard work at times and to get on a shortlist for such a prestigious event makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Who are your favourite children's authors or illustrators?

In children’s non-fiction, big talents like Mike Goldsmith and Richard Platt breathe new life into subjects and show how books remain a brilliant way to entertain and educate at the same time. In children’s fiction, Phillip Pullman and Neil Gaiman are incredible creators of believable imaginary worlds whilst I also like David Almond and Morris Gleitzman.

What inspired you when you were creating this book?

The topic itself. Space is such a HUGE, complex, fascinating and, in parts, misunderstood subject. It’s a subject that’s incredibly alive - with new discoveries every week changing what we know about the Universe. The enthusiasm and excitement of the astronomers and space scientists who make these discoveries is infectious and those I met and talked to when writing the book proved very inspiring.

Where and when do you write and illustrate?

I’m always writing! Anywhere and everywhere as one never knows when you’ll have a good idea. I always carry notebooks and pens with me, just in case something useful pops into my head (I lose about 10 pens a week). Most of my final work on books is carried out in my garden or my office. Evenings are my favourite time to write, as I can reflect on what I’ve read and learnt that day.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author or illustrator?

Keep at it. You need bags of patience and perseverance to research and write, then rewrite and improve your work. Aim as high as you can. Read widely and seek out new information that can excite and inspire young people. Try to put yourself in their shoes - what questions do they want answered, what facts are they after, what will thrill and inspire them?