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Our mutual love of crime writing  had to start somewhere, and I’m sure if we all cast our minds back we will remember fondly delving into the world of The Three Investigators, The Famous Five or The Secret Seven, but who is inspiring the same love of mystery in the young of today? We’ve got three of the best children’s and YA crime fiction authors ready to help answer that question. Sharna Jackson, Nicki Thornton and Sarah Todd Taylor are being joined by fellow crime author and founder of the ‘Parenting Without Tears’ website Anne Coates to discuss the pros & cons of writing for a younger audience, the unique skills needed to appeal to young adults and what it feels like to be inspiring a whole new generation of mystery lovers.

Sharna Jackson

Sharna Jackson is an author and Artistic Director who specialises in developing and delivering socially-engaged digital initiatives for children and young people across culture, publishing and entertainment.

She is driven specifically to encourage and increase diverse and disengaged audiences’ participation in the arts locally, nationally, and globally.

Sharna has written three books, Tate Kids British Art Activity Book, Tate Kids Modern Art Activity Book and High Rise Mystery - the first in a middle-grade series featuring the sibling detective duo everyone’s dying to meet.

She is the Artistic Director at Site Gallery, Sheffield’s leading international contemporary art space, specialising in moving image, new media and performance.

She is on the board of Sheffield Doc/Fest and New Writing North in addition to being a member of BAFTA’s Children’s and Learning and New Talent committees and the Children’s Media Conference advisory board.

Sharna was born and raised in Luton and currently lives in Sheffield – and Rotterdam on a ship built in 1897.

Nicki Thornton

Nicki Thornton has always loved books and ran her own bookshop for more than ten years. Her favourite part of the job was talking to children about the books they read and giving them the space and choice to find the stories they love. She also ended up with a head full of stories she wanted to write. She moved from being a bookseller to a children’s author when her murder mystery story set in a magical world, The Last Chance Hotel, won the Times / Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition in 2016, which went on to be one of the bestselling debuts of 2018 and a Waterstones Book of the Month. She has since signed with Chicken House for a further two magical murder mysteries. The Bad Luck Lighthouse will be published in July 2019.

Sarah Todd Taylor

Sarah Todd Taylor was brought up in Yorkshire and Wale, surrounded by books and cats. She discovered the theatre when she was a teenager and was instantly hooked, appearing in over 20 musicals in her hometown as well as helping out backstage. In her spare time she likes to sing opera in wonderful dresses, and she shares her home with her fabulous husband, two guinea pigs and a hamster.

Anne Coates

London-based Anne Coates has worked as a staff and freelance journalist on magazines and newspapers as well as editing and abridging fiction and non-fiction.


Her short stories have appeared in national magazines and she is the author of seven non-fiction books. Published by Urbane Publications Dancers in the Wind, Death’s Silent Judgement and Songs of Innocence all feature freelance investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge. Book four in the series will be published later this year.


Anne is also the founder/editor of www.parentingwithouttears.com where she regularly reviews books for children and young adults.

To check out some of these authors' books, visit our Recommended Reading page!