Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Most loved photo of 2014

Wishing you all a very happy festive season. Here is my favourite picture of the year. It was taken on a walk with my children on Hampstead Heath in October and seems to represent so much of what I love to write about in my books and it sparked an idea for another story...

Wednesday, 12 November 2014


I was privileged to spend Armistice Day with a group of young people from Fortismere school as part of my Patron of Reading partnership. We wanted to make the day one to remember. I took my dog Billie along and he became our remembrance day dog.   

Billie being with us reminded us of all the animals who have also died in warfare. He was so well looked after. There are suggestions that he may become the Fortismere Patron of Reading dog!
One hundred years on from WW1 it felt so important to mark that moment. But how do you bring an understanding of respect for a moment's silence to young people in our age? Perhaps for this hyper-technically-connected generation the concept of a minute's silence may be particularly alien. It also occurred to me that the concept of commemoration may seem rather faraway and abstract. The task of the day was to bring the story home to these young people.

At the beginning of 'Red Leaves' my character Zak reacts violently to the idea of a school visit to Flanders Fields. He has his reasons. His mother is a war journalist in Syria and he sees no point in thinking about an old war when there 'are wars raging all over the world every day.'

Zak's journey through 'Red Leaves' is to meet a soldier from WW1 who built the house in which he lives. Zak steps into his shoes, but the journey of the young people in my story is also to meet each other and to try to understand how war has impacted on contemporary lives.

A group of twenty students, teachers, librarians, myself and Billie headed for the woods to see the very air air shelter that gave me the idea for the young people in 'Red Leaves' to shelter inside. In this place Zak meets Aisha a Somali Refugee girl and her contemporary story of loss through war is also remembered and recognised.

There were many activitites as part of the day including quizzes, talks, readings discussion, teachers and students shared stories and artifacts dating back to WW1 and through all this there was a keen consciousness of how war is still impacting on the lives of so many people today. 

Just as is the case in most schools in world cites some of  the student's families will have come to this country seeking shelter and protection to escape the ugly face of war in their homelands.

There were two moments when we walked through the very wood in which 'Red Leaves' is set that I shall personally never forget. We discussed the fact that many wars are caused because people are forced to flee their homes when boundaries are crossed and territory taken. I asked why the youngest of children build dens and the answers came thick and fast ...'for protection' 'to feel safe' 'for shelter.' It was a wonderful moment for me when two young boys who could have been young Zak, sat in the shelter of a woodland den and read his story to the rest of us.

Omar and Casey reading the character of Zak in 'Red Leaves' with Billie listening too!
Of course a writer's trade is to weave words... and many were written and spoken during the day, but I shall never forget standing in an ancient wood listening to bird song with twenty young people for a minute's silence. 

The word 'respect' is often used by and about the young... often referring to 'lack of respect.' However, at that moment the young people, many of whose ancestors will have fought in WW1 and WW2, many of whom will have come from contemporary conflict and war... stood together in silence on the edge of a woodland conservation zone in their local wood...

The aim of the conservation zone in which my young characters hide in the fiction of 'Red Leaves' is to nurture the diversity of the trees, flora and fauna. It seemed so fitting to be standing with twenty young people in this wood holding together all their diverse and shared histories in a moment of communal remembrance of all the tragic loss caused by past and present wars and conflicts.

This sort of peace is to be cherished.  

Students created beautiful memorial leaves now on display at Fortismere Library

' My Grandpa went to fight in the war and I think he should be remembered because he fought for his country and never gave up...' Beth

With many thanks to all the wonderful staff at Fortismere who created such a beautiful remembrance day walk in the woods that I, for one, will never forget.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A great half term literary festival

This morning I ran through Queen's Wood where 'Red Leaves' is set. It was a glorious start to the day. The sun played through russet, mustard and golden leaves which wafted down through the thinning branches. Leaves scrunched underfoot and I fancied that if I looked up I would hear my ancient character Elder intoning her chants in praise of autumn.

'Time to light the fires. The year's turning and the wood's stirring.' 

I picked up a leaf, took it home, traced around it and made twenty paper leaves for the young writers who attended Storystock at the Bush Theatre today. There are wonderful literary events on all week and today I was privileged to see the great Michael Morpurgo there (though I was not brave enough to say hi!)

In creative writing workshop today twenty young people imagined that they, like my characters in 'Red Leaves' were hiding out in an air raid shelter on the eve of Halloween. They threw red leaves in the air, caution to the wind, let their imaginations flow and produced some beautiful writing.

 'Red Leaves' draws on some harsh real world realities but the young lives who find their way to the air raid shelter in a London wood discover a place where magic and transformations are possible, where young people can return to the simple pleasures of building dens, enjoying fireworks light up the sky, catching a falling leaf and making new bonds of friendship.

See the whole programme for the rest of the week at:


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Reviews and endorsements of 'Red Leaves'

Here are reviews and endorsements on 'Red Leaves' from reviewers, educators and young readers:

Julia Eccleshare :'Red Leaves' is LoveReading4Kids Book of the Month

'Award-winning Sita Brahmachari has a great gift of understanding for the confusions and loneliness of adolescents and their need to be gently nurtured and cherished.'

'Sita Brahmachari has created a beautiful tale of modern multicultural Britain.' 
The Book Trust Review

'Red Leaves' was published on 25th September 2014 by Macmillan Children's Books.

Red Leaves is endorsed by Amnesty International UK 
 "We are proud to endorse Red Leaves because of its sensitive depiction of diversity and the human need for somewhere to call home. It's a novel that encourages readers' empathy, which is a big step towards understanding, tolerance and kindness - all values that help us to uphold human rights.''
(Nicky Parker, Publisher at Amnesty International UK)
'If I was a Year 6 or Year 7 teacher, I’d order a copy of this book for my classroom or school library right now. Why? Because it’s ambitious in its scope, but gets away with it spectacularly. On the surface, the story involves a small gang of kids having an adventure and solving a mystery with a bit of magic thrown in. But look deeper and you’ll find issues like divorce, working parents, homelessness, domestic abuse, looked-after children, refugees, mental illness, multiculturalism and wars past and present packed into its pages. And Sita Brahmachari does it in a way that seems entirely natural and not in the least didactic.'
It's not often that once you have finished reading a book you need to sit down and simply say “Wow.” This is precisely what I did when I finished reading Red Leaves. It’s not often that a book can redefine your way of thinking and provoke thought about the things we take for granted: family, community, culture, home and the people in the world around us. This is a really poignant book, one which carries a very important message.
'It's about telling stories, weaving tales from past and present, far and near around the world, and bringing them all together in a wonderful crescendo.'

Teacher endorsements: 

Amnesty International UK will be creating education resources for 'Red Leaves' and a number of teachers have recommended the book as a class reader.

Annie Birch , Leader of Literacy at St Paul's way Trust School London

'From the first paragraph onwards ‘Red Leaves’ is visually rich.  My recent teaching has highlighted how students quickly understand this story on a symbolic, as well as a literal level, as a result. It is a seemingly simple tale and yet it holds within it a depth of meaning. It is a story for our times and yet for all times, for young people and yet for all people.‘Red Leaves’ is also emotionally and linguistically rich. Beautifully written, both boys and girls in my lessons immediately empathise with the lives of the carefully observed central characters. As with all of Sita’s books, these represents a rich range of cultural backgrounds and experience, both similar to and different to their own; this makes very fertile territory for dialogue and developing deeply empathic and moving writing. Readers can grapple with the impact of significant issues faced by young people in the story which are also so prevalent in all of our lives; divorce, fostering, bullying, isolation, homelessness, history, war and also family, community, friendship and love- all permeate the pages. 

Great literature should enable us to reflect on society, understand it a bit more and in the process change ourselves. ‘Red Leaves’ does this. The setting of ‘Home Wood’ can be seen as a microcosm of 21st  century society, an arena in which to explore modern life with all its multi-layered, complex cultural issues. ‘Red Leaves’ reveals beauty in nature, diversity and struggle and within the conclusion of the plot, it highlights what people have in common across cultures

At a time when PSHE is too often squeezed out of the curriculum in favour of subjects that yield more point scores or test results, the emotional relevance of this text alone is a strong argument for using this as a must-read text, not only for KS3, but across the school. Of course students will learn about fantastic writing in this book ; setting, character, imagery, plot and description. But literature can also teach us about life. The issues explored in the dialogue and dynamic between characters enable readers to have greater insight into the lives of others, make connections with people who may initially appear to be different to themselves and hopefully to overcome prejudice or limits in viewpoints and judgements. 

‘Red Leaves’ is a special treasure. It is moving, magic and meaningful on many levels. Isn’t it 
time to allow young people to experience some magic back at the heart of the curriculum?
Catherine Coles English Teacher, Fortismere School. London.

'I would choose 'Red Leaves' for a reader for year 7 or 8 for the following reasons: It has interesting contemporary themes that are also timeless - identity, conflict and coming of age that provide good comparative themes to other work eg, poetry. This will work really well with the new ' Comparing text' requirement in the National Curriculum beginning Autumn 2014. The structuring devices with parallel narratives and time frames would be interesting to explore with a year 7/ 8 class. The book offers many possibilities for creative writing. There are also strong links to PHSE, Citizenship, RE and Literacy  The length of the novel is manageable and could be read as a whole class text. The length of the chapters can be easily read in one class sitting and the text is rich enough with a range of stylistic uses eg. dreams, poems, multiple narrative to be analysed in detail. The style of writing is beautiful and accessible '
Catherine Coles English Teacher, Fortismere School. London.

Joanne Chadwick Head of Social Sciences at Alexandra Park School, London. 

'What a great read! A lovely book, truly easy to access and relate to.

In terms of Citizenship:’Red Leaves is a relevant book to modern multicultural Britain. It explores three teenage lives through their varied problems, yet draws together the underlying similarities facing young adults today. Life for young people is a struggle, no matter their background and upbringing. Red leaves enables us to relate to and have insight into these modern day struggles, whilst making important connections to the past. There is a shared humanity and human desire in Zak, Aisha and Iona that despite their differences and troubles, unites them.

Red leaves can be used to explore the impact of conflict outside of the ‘war zone’ (be that Somalian conflict or domestic violence in the UK) how young adults make their way in British society, how they fit in, but are wrestling with multiple identities. They are part of the fabric of modern British society but still feel excluded at times from the expectations, routines and bureaucracies of British life.
Red leaves could be used to make the connection between conflicts old and new and the impact and scars that these leave on children. Red leaves allows these connections to be subtly made and could be used as an exploration or starting point to gently ease students into the study of conflict and its impacts.

Young Reader Reviews

In my opinion ‘Red Leaves’ is the best of Sita’s books. All of her books have a light heartedness to them that intrigues younger readers but this book addresses something a lot more serious. The way that Sita writes about the unity in different cultures teaches young readers about the sense of community we have in the UK.

My favourite thing about the book is that Sita brings together histories of three culturally different teenagers without the help of technology. The setting of the ‘Home Wood’ - which I visited in Highgate – is perfect for uniting the ancient and the new. The woods are very old with an air raid shelter which is where Aisha, Zak and Iona hide out. I really loved this idea because we know that people hid in the air raid shelter when they were escaping from war but the 
characters hid in the air raid shelter to escape from their problems which was a very interesting parallel. The woods also had a conservation area to allow new, diverse fauna and flora to grow which represented the children that were still yet to grow.

My favourite character was Iona because despite being a young, homeless girl she still took great pride in her artwork. In spite of not having seen the drawing of her dog – Red – I really loved the way that Sita described the artwork as sophisticated and detailed which is a distinct contrast to Iona’s life. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who feels out of place for the older and younger readers.
Mymona Noor, St Paul's Way Trust School

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

We Need Diverse Books

I spent publication day for 'Red Leaves' with the amazing students of St Paul's Way Trust School in London. If you look in the acknowledgements of 'Red Leaves' you will see that girls at the school helped me to step into the shoes of my character Aisha who arrived in this country as an unaccompanied refugee.

I was invited to go back to the school on publication day to give a talk to year 7 and 8 about the inspiration for writing 'Red Leaves.'

I talked about Aisha and was able to personally thank the girls for their contribution. I talked about researching characters who may be very unlike yourself... and the act of stepping into someone else's shoes.

I talked about Iona - the homeless girl from Scotland who nobody in the story is looking for. I talked of the ancient homeless woman Elder who lives in a den in a city wood.

I talked about Zak from a wealthy background who might seem to have everything except a secure home. His father and mother have recently divorced.  Zak's mother is a war journalist reporting about the refugee crisis in Syria.  

We discussed how young people feel the weight of what is said in the media about their religion, culture, identity and right to belong.

'Red Leaves' is set in a wild city wood and as we roamed the paths of the story together we agreed that what all humans share is a universal need across culture, religion, age and economic difference to build ourselves a safe and secure home where we can be ourselves.

Why do we build dens? I asked

'To feel safe, to feel protected, to find a place where you can be yourself,' answered a year seven boy.

Writing with the aim of having your young readers empathising with people and stories they may never usually connect to, feels to me to be both a huge responsibility and a privilege.

On the final session of working with the Somali girl's advisory group I invited them to name my character... they said they didn't want anyone to be put off by finding her name too difficult to pronounce and they unanimously named her 'Aisha'.

I was reminded that my own dad used to sometimes shorten his name from Dr Brahmachari to 'Dr B.' As a strident teenager I used to tell him off . I would say 'Why should you compromise your name... people should learn to say it.' I still think I was right! But I understood the instinct of the teenagers I have worked with. At a time when young Muslim people feel the weight of negativity in the media the group I worked with wanted 'everyone, not just from our background miss!' to love Aisha.

For myself, for the girls who advised me on Aisha's character and I hope for 'Red Leaves' readers, Amnesty's endorsement means so much.

"We are proud to endorse 'Red Leaves' because of its sensitive depiction of diversity and the human need for somewhere to call home. It's a novel that encourages readers' empathy, which is a big step towards understanding, tolerance and kindness - all values that help us to uphold human rights."
Nicky Parker (Publisher. Amnesty International UK)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Red Leaves Book Trailer

Here's the official trailer for Red Leaves made by amazing Grace Manning with sound by Julian Portinari for Macmillan Children's Books.

The Big Issue

Here's the link to the article I wrote about why I have young and old homeless people in ' Red Leaves' in last week's Big Issue.


This week marks the 23rd anniversary of The Big Issue. I had bought the magazine from this local seller before but didn't know his name, now I do.  This is Jonathan Gregg If you buy a Big Issue from a seller stop for a chat.

Jonathan had read my article and agreed with the description of 'invisibility'

He said he would like to read my book - so i gave him my copy and he's going to write a review which I will post here. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Red Leaves Photo Diary of Publication Week.

 Photo Diary of 'Red Leaves' publication week...

'Red Leaves' published by Macmillan Children's Books is endorsed by Amnesty International UK

'A book about community, caring and the universal human need to build a safe and secure home. All set in an ancient city wood.'
With artist Grace Manning installing her beautiful 'Red Leaves' window at Children's Bookshop Muswell Hill. 

Very proud of our window being in such wonderful company with Jaqueline Wilson and Chris Riddell's visits coming soon...

Launch day was spent at St Paul's Way Trust School with year 7 and 8 students.
Showing an image of  refugee children 

Amnesty International UK endorsement of 'Red Leaves'

Fire drill at lunch hour but we were all happy to carry on chatting about 'Red Leaves!'

Thanking two of the students I worked with for their advice on my Somali character Aisha 

At Children's Bookshop with from right to left Venetia Gosling - Editor of Red Leaves, myself, Helen Bray - assistant editor and Kate Agnew owner of the Children's Bookshop Muswell Hill. 

Rachel Vale (Cover designer In doorway) with Venetia Gosling - Editor of 'Red Leaves'

Setting off on walk through the woods accompanied by Sanchita from Children's Bookshop, Muswell Hill. 
With students from St Paul's Way Trust School 
The idea for my character Iona's painting of the dog submitted to the Royal Academy exhibition came from a painting entitled ‘Cassie’ by Amie Douglas ( pictured). Amie was in year six of Primary School when her painting was chosen for the RA Summer Exhibition (2012).

Exploring the woods where 'Red Leaves' is set. Walking, talking, sharing stories and inspirations... roaming the imagination ( Photo by Tanya Nash)

Arriving at the lovely Queen's Wood Cafe for cake and elderflower fizz and readings in the open air. It felt like the ancient Elder might be sitting in the trees above our heads dropping breadcrumbs!

Talk about my books published by Macmillan Children's Books by Belinda Rasmussen and Venetia Gosling. I was moved by their words and the support of the whole Macmilllan Children's Books and MBA literary Agents. 
A happy gathering among the (almost!) turning leaves this Indian summer. (Front row left in pink T shirt - Sophie Gorell- Barnes my agent at MBA literary Agents, Belinda Rasmussen, Annie Birch and students from St Paul's Way Trust School)

Buying a copy of The Big Issue from Jonathan Gregg - Local Big Issue Vendor - who had read my article about homelessness and the characters of Iona and Elder in 'Red Leaves'.


'Living on the street you wear an invisibility cloak but you don't know it at first...'
 so says 17 year old  Big Issue seller - Iona in
 'Red Leaves'
Jonathan said he would like to read 'Red Leaves'... so I gave him my copy and signed it with a gold leaf! Today, buying my Big Issue I met his partner Rose.

This week is the 23rd anniversary of The Big Issue...if you bump into Rose or Jonathan or any other vendor... stop for a chat, to buy a copy and consider how it is that homelessness is The Big Issue for more and more people every day.  

I would like to thank everyone for making this such a special publication week for 'Red Leaves.' It has reflected so much of the spirit of what I wanted to write about in this book.  I very much hope that you enjoy reading it. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Counting conkers

I loved this time of year as a child and still do.
The leaves turning, the conkers and the conker fights (before the days where they were banned from the school playground! - though to be fair I still sport a small scar on my upper lip where one struck!)
Like my character Aisha who uses conkers to try mark the days passing as she hides out in an ancient city wood... I've been counting the days till 'Red Leaves' is published on 25th September.

'Red Leaves' is a very autumnal book. I love the feeling of the nights drawing in and looking forward to all the festivals of light. At this time of year it seems that we are all searching to celebrate light... often (though depending on the waxing and waning of the moon) Harvest festival, Durga Puja, Rosh HashanahDiwali, Eid, November 5th and Halloween fall around the same time. Up and down this country the skies are filled with spectacular displays of light... their message of hope and celebration need no translation.

Here's a peek at my characters Aisha, Zak and Iona standing together in 'Home Wood'  united under the same sky.

'Boom boom boom, came the hollow sounds above their heads. They ran outside to see the sky blasted by fountains of light splashing rainbow colours across the night and cascading back down to earth. There were the deep rumbles and then the sprinkling showers raining down on them in white, blue and pink..Zak and Aisha were transfixed as they stood in the middle of the wood, holding their breath. Iona studied their expressions.She had always loved to see people's faces transformed by fireworks, to watch all their worries ebb away. Even the oldest most cynical face relaxed into a child like glow of wonder before these displays.'

Page 293 - 'Red Leaves' Published by Macmillam Children's Books on 25th September. 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Invite... into the woods of 'Red Leaves'

Macmillan Children's Books and Children's Bookshop Muswell Hill
invite you to celebrate the publication of

'Red Leaves'
 by Sita Brahmachari
A story about home, community and belonging 
Endorsed by Amnesty International UK

Saturday 27th September

1.45 – 2.30: Signing
Children's Bookshop, Muswell Hill, 29 Fortis Green Rd, N10 3HP

2.30 - 3.30: Author Tour
(Limited places – email: admin@childrensbookshoplondon.co.uk)
Ever wondered how authors are inspired by places? Take a walk with Sita through Queen's and Highgate Woods to explore the haunts of 'Red Leaves.'

3.30 - 5pmTalk, Readings, Signing & Refreshments
Queen's Wood Cafe, 42, Muswell Hill Road, N10 3JP

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Red Leaves has arrived!

What does it feel like to see the fruits of your labour sitting on a desk at Macmillan Children's Books for the first time?

I think my face says it all!

Here's a pic of the lovely team who have been so important in bringing this book to publication.

From left to right. Catherine Alport, Venetia Gosling, Sophie Gorell Barnes and Helen Bray

And... here's a close up of the beautiful cover designed by Rachel Vale who has designed all my covers for Macmillan Children's Books. I love autumn... with its turning leaves, fireworks, conkers and halloween.

I think of the season as a kind of character in 'Red Leaves' and as I took my characters Aisha, Zak and Iona into the ancient 'Home Wood' I knew they could not have inhabited the story in any other season. When I look at this cover I feel the same excitement as I did as a child when the candles were lit for Diwali, or standing around a fire on November 5th.

'A topical and moving novel about family, love, community, the tangled roots of history and searching for a place to call home.'

Aisha is a thirteen-year-old refugee living in London. Happy for the first time since leaving her war-torn home, she is devastated when her foster mother announces that a new family has been found for her and she will be moving on. Feeling rejected and abandoned, Aisha packs her bags and runs away, seeking shelter in the nearby woods.

Meanwhile, a few doors down, twelve-year-old Zak is trying to cope with his parents' divorce. Living in a near-building site while the new house is being refurbished, he feels unsettled and alone. Discovering a piece of rubble with the original builder's signature set into it, he starts researching the history behind his home - and in doing so finds a connection with a young soldier from the past, which leads him to an old air-raid shelter in the same woods.

Both children, previously unknown to each other, meet in the heart of the ancient city woodland as they come into the orbit of Elder, a strange homeless woman who lives amongst the trees - and, as helicopters hover overhead and newspapers fill with pictures of the two lost children, unexpected bonds are formed and lives changed forever . . .
'Red Leaves' edited by Venetia Gosling, will be published by Macmillan Children's Books on September 25th

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Brace Mouth, False Teeth

It's so exciting receiving an advance copy of your new book through the post. I got my daughter to take this photo.

'What do you think? Can I use it?' I asked her.
'It's a bit cheesy mum!'
'Perfect!' I said.

'Brace Mouth, False Teeth'  published by Barrington Stoke in August (Edited by Ruth Williams) is an intergenerational story about a girl called Zeni who gets sent on work experience to a care home for the elderly. Zeni's just had her brace fitted so when she meets Alice ( who suffers from dementia) and is searching for the right pair of false teeth, a bond is formed.

The idea for the story came from doing a 'Plank Tale'.. well that's what I call them.  A ' plank tale' is a story told while holding your body in a plank position for one minute. Why would you? I was part of an exercise class that was led by Cathy Woodman and it was typical of her motivational style that she would come up with this fun way to  get through a minute of stomach exercise and lift the spirits! One week she told a tale about her mother in law's lost false teeth. None of us could hold the plank... we ended up crying with a mixture of  laughter, outrage and compassion and  the idea of ' Brace Mouth, False Teeth' began to emerge.

We were devastated when Cathy became ill and died very young and the dedication in this book is to her: 'Cathy is deeply missed but her spirit of kindness and compassion lives on'.

Every Friday ' Cathy's' group still meets to do exercise, continue our plank tales and remember our friend...

In 'Brace Mouth,False Teeth' Zeni begins her journey feeling like she's been given the worst deal ever working with old people.... until she realises that working at the home is not only hard work.... but ' heart work'.

Questions I have already been asked:

Did you wear a brace growing up?
Yes!  I remember it well!

Have you ever spent time in a Care Home?
Yes.... and met some amazing people like the jazz musician, retired barrister and one time Selfridge shop-girl in the book.

Do you wear False Teeth?
I brush and floss and hope never to be in poor Alice's situation ( which is more common than you would think for people in hospitals and care homes) of wearing the wrong false teeth because of a mix-up.



Thursday, 26 June 2014

Letter To An Unknown Solider - an invitation for everyone to write history

Photos taken at a Writing Workshop at Fortismere school where students brought in objects and photos of their own family memories of involvement in WW1.  Their letters have been recorded and can be heard on Paddington Station in London for the duration of this memorial in words.

Photography by Matthew Andrews

Letter To An Unknown Soldier is the most wonderful, egalitarian way of gathering stories. I was honoured to be invited to write a letter as one of fifty commissioned British writers including Malorie Blackman, David Almond and Stephen Fry to name but a few. These voices were invited to get the ball rolling and  now every single person in the country is invited to write and publish their letters recording family stories from WW1 from every perspective including women, children, parents, grandparents, soldiers, defectors, consciencious objectors...the stories that fall between the cracks of the official telling of history. When all the letters are collated together they will form a national archive which will surely become a national treasure for the British Museum where it will be permanently housed.

Themes of the importance of finding yourself  and your family's path through history resonate strongly with me and feature in all my novels but especially in my forthcoming novel 'Red Leaves' (to be published in September 2014 by Macmillan Children's Books)  so... I wrote my letter through the eyes of my character Zak Johnson... who will you write your letter from and to?

Have a look around the site - find out how to publish your own letter and read all the other moving letters...

But be warned...you may need a box of tissues by your side... these letters tug straight at the heart strings.

Here's my letter from Zak on the site and a video of me reading Zak's letter.