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Robert - always known as Bob - was shy and quiet at school and useless at everything except English, Art and cricket.

He got through his boring childhood by discovering the local library when he was nine. First he had to get past the fierce old librarian. But once he started reading, he realised that he could go anywhere and be anyone he wanted. Discovering the library turned him into a reader and later made him a writer, too.

Bob left school at 15. He worked on a local newspaper for a couple years before joining the RAF. He hoped to fly spitfires but ended up with a job on the ground. Bob then trained as a primary school teacher and worked as a teacher before becoming a full-time writer. In 1984, Bob wrote Brother in the Land, a hard-hitting story about the collapse of society, after the nuclear bomb had been dropped. It reflected his active involvement with the CND, which on one occasion led to his arrest and a week in prison.

Since then he has written over 20 books that are contemporary, thought-provoking novels about society including Stone Cold that won the Carnegie Medal in 1994.

Bob is a Buddhist. He believes that we are all responsible for each other and that we should be careful not to harm anyone. He writes books that encourage young readers to think the same.