Chris DLacey

Chris d'Lacey



Chris d’Lacey writes books for children of all ages, but is best known for his series The Last Dragon Chronicles, which have sold nearly four million copies worldwide. He likes dragons.

He was born in Malta (not Hollywood, as Wikipedia likes to suggest) in 1954, but has absolutely no memory of the island and has never been back. Most of his life has been lived in Leicester.

His early ambition was to be a songwriter, and he did not begin writing fiction until he was in his early thirties. He kicked off with a gentle Christmassy story that grew, alarmingly, into a 250,000 word adult saga about polar bears. This has yet to come out of his ‘bottom drawer’. Chris progressed to writing bizarre short stories and had a smattering of efforts placed in a variety of well-regarded small press magazines. He had no real plans to try children’s fiction until a friend suggested he enter a competition to write a story for nine-year-olds. He didn’t win the competition, but sent the story to a publisher who picked it off a slush pile. Unsurprisingly, he has now switched completely to children’s fiction and has published over thirty titles, many of which have been widely translated. His first children's novel, Fly, Cherokee, Fly, was highly commended for the Carnegie Medal.

In 2002 Chris was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Leicester (where he worked for twenty-eight years as a scientist of sorts) for his services to children’s fiction. He now writes full time and is a regular visitor to schools, libraries and book festivals. Recently, he has ventured into the young adult arena under the pseudonym Vincent Caldey. The excerpt below is taken from his first Caldey novel.

Creative Work

From A Good Clean Edge

(Reproduced with kind permission from Orchard books).

On the way to Skegness we talk about football. We laugh, we eat fruit, we play ‘Name Ten Things’. Dad tells me about his time in the navy. The duties he carried out on aircraft carriers. He doesn’t ask about people at the house any more. And if I talk about Mum, he just changes the subject.

He parks the van on the open seafront. The radio was right and Dad is wrong. The sun isn’t shining; the rain hasn’t stopped. It’s slanting side-saddle on the wind, blurring the view of the town and beach. One gust shudders the skin of the van. Gulls cry murder. The grey sea rolls. Everything smells of salt. The clock tower has its hands at eight. Dad’s hands are gripped to his steering wheel. When I ask what he’s staring at he just says, “Nothing. Come on, let’s chase the tide.”

So we struggle down the beach, my father and me, with our heads in our chests and our hands in our pockets, splashing in the runnels that form between the sandbanks. It’s cold. The sea is a long way out. Soon I can’t feel my ears and nose. My feet are wet, my socks are pulp, my bright green anorak is soaked in patches. Dad is further ahead than me, in his working overalls and sheepskin coat, striding out to the water’s edge. He chases the tide, but it doesn’t chase him. It turns and catches him in its sway. Soon, the sea has covered his boots. And he still hasn’t stopped. Still he keeps walking. And I know that the water is strong and cold and I’m frightened that the sea will steal him away. So I splash through the tide because I want to save him. I crash into his back and tug at his coat. Dad? Dad? What are we doing? And he pulls me round to stand in front of him. He turns me so we’re looking at the sea together, clamping me firmly against his body. We’re ankle deep and the rain is hitting and my father says, “Look at it. Look out there. This is all there is for you and me now.”



When I was learning the writing craft, someone pointed out to me that many of my adult stories were about childhood. If I turned them round and wrote them from a child’s perspective, I’d be a children’s author, they said.

My childhood was not defined by dragons or pirates, but by the break up of my parents’ marriage when I was aged about ten. Up until then, I had been a pretty happy little boy, living on the Thurnby Lodge Council Estate in Scraptoft. This was in the slightly idyllic 1960s, when England were about to win the World Cup, The Beatles were shattering everyone’s illusions about music and we could still play games like ‘Fairy Footsteps’ on the street. What I particularly liked about the estate at that time was the station at the top end, from which steam trains delivered you directly into that place of seaside wonder, Skegness.

On the day my mother walked out, my father took me away in his van. He was a long distance lorry driver. I remembered going away with him, but not where we went. So I let him drive to Skegness, because it seemed appropriate and poignant.

From the window of the van, through the medium of my keyboard, I saw my young life in microcosm. The pebble-dashed three bedroomed council house. My high jump poles on the threadbare lawn. The pink and white Vauxhall Cresta jacked up on the drive. My father in his chunky sheepskin coat. We drove through the rain into Lincolnshire, through endless fields of Brussels sprouts and cabbages. Round bends that never seemed to be the last. Until we arrived at the grubby beach, where the scene from A Good Clean Edge played out.

Except, in real life, it didn’t happen. There was no beach, no water, no murderous gulls. My need to express the guilt I felt for not telling my father about the stranger who’d been courting my mother while he was away had taken me on a journey that could not be exposed by a simple confession. I slayed demons that day, and cried the tears I couldn’t back then. I had written from an adult perspective. I had grown up.


(as Chris d’Lacey):

The Last Dragon Chronicles series, Orchard Books, 2000-present
The Dragons of Wayward Crescent series, Orchard Books, 2009-present
Rain & Fire, a guidebook to the Last Dragon Chronicles (with Jay d’Lacey), Orchard Books, 2010
Fly, Cherokee, Fly, Orchard Books, 2008

(as Vincent Caldey):

A Good Clean Edge, Orchard Books, 2011


Twitter: @chrisdlacey

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