2 September 2021
We were sad to learn that beloved children's author
Cathy MacPhail passed away last week.
Our member Floris Books who published some of
her books have provided this tribute:
Cathy was a best-selling author of over thirty children's books
including Run Zan Run, Roxy's Baby, Out of
the Depths, Grass, Devil You Know and
Between the Lies. She won three Scottish Children's Book
Awards, alongside another numerous accolades, and a film adaptation
of her novel Another Me was released in 2014. Best known
for her challenging teen novels, Cathy was praised as the "master
of the unexpected twist" by Julia Eccleshare.
Eleanor Collins, Editorial Director at Floris Books, says:
"Cathy was warm and wonderful to work with - a natural, gifted
and compelling storyteller. Her generosity and humour engaged and
inspired her readers both on the page and in person.
"She loved speaking to young people and her diary was choc-full
of high school visits, library events and festivals. She not only
talked to them; she took them seriously and listened closely to
them. With her magpie-mind and a finely tuned ear for adolescent
conversation, she created books for young teens that are threaded
with jewels of dialogue entwined with magnificent plotting and, at
the centre of each of them, a great thumping heart."
Floris Books' relationship with Cathy began in 2005 when (their
now Publisher and CEO) Katy Lockwood-Holmes dared to approach this
legend of children's literature at a Scottish Book Trust event.
Katy's mission was to ask Cathy to present the first-ever Kelpies
Prize for Scottish writing for children. Cathy was immediately
gracious, enthusiastic and offered wisdom and generosity to
aspiring authors at the inaugural ceremony. Cathy remained a
respected friend of Floris and in 2015 they excitedly published her
first novel in their Kelpies imprint, Devil You Know,
which was followed two years later by Between the
Cathy's family, her readers, her home town of Greenock and the
world of children's books, including her agent Caroline Sheldon and
her many publishers, have lost a remarkable person: someone who
shared their passion with openness and warm-heartedness, always
with an arm outstretched and often a mischievous glint in her
And from Cathy's agent Caroline Sheldon:
Cathy MacPhail, prize-winning Scottish children's author, has
passed away following a long illness.
Cathy MacPhail was born in 1946 in Greenock. Her father died
when she was only 2, leaving Cathy and her three sisters to be
raised by their mother. Cathy had to leave school at 15 to work in
Despite these early difficulties, Cathy joined a local writer's
group, and later got to live her dream of becoming an author and
comedy writer. Her BBC Radio 2 Sitcom 'My Mammy and Me' ran from
1993 to 1995. In 1994 she published her first children's book,
Run Zan Run, inspired by her daughter Katie's experience
with bullying. The book went on to win the Kathleen Fidler award
and the Vergheretto in Italy.
Catherine subsequently published many children's books with
publishers such as Bloomsbury, Puffin, Barrington Stoke and
Floris. Her trademark as a writer was to produce gritty and
topical novels on important subjects that were totally accessible
to her readers. She was a brilliant sharer of her work with
children indefatigably giving talks in schools and
libraries. A film based on her novel Another Me was
released in 2015, starring Game of Thrones star Sophie
Turner. Cathy MacPhail's work won multiple awards
including the Scottish Children's Book Award (under its various
names) three times, The Stockport Book Award, The Red
Book Award and the Grampian Book Award.
Cathy is survived by three children, one of whom is also an
author, and six grandchildren.
See also the obituaries in The Herald and The Bookseller (1 September 2021).