Ness won the annual Carnegie Medal from the British librarians both in 2011 and in 2012, for Monsters of Men and A Monster Calls, recognising each as the best new book for children or young adults published in the UK He is one of seven writers to win two Medals (no one has won three) and the second to win consecutively.
At some point prior to writing full time, Ness taught creative writing classes at Oxford University.
Ness's first novel, The Crash of Hennington, was published in 2003 and was followed soon after by his short story collection Topics About Which I Know Nothing, which was released in 2004.
Ness's first young adult novel was The Knife of Never Letting Go, which in 2008 was awarded the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, an annual book award judged by a panel of British children's writers. The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men were sequels to The Knife of Never Letting Go; jointly they are called the "Chaos Walking trilogy" and The Knife has been reissued with a front cover banner "Chaos Walking: Book One". Ness has also published three short stories in the Chaos Walking universe, the prequels "The New World", "The Wide, Wide Sea", and "Snowscape", set after the events of Monsters of Men. The short stories are available as free-to-download e-books, and have been included in the 2013 UK print editions of the novels.
A Monster Calls (2011) originated with Siobhan Dowd, another writer with the same editor at Walker, Denise Johnstone-Burt. Before her August 2007 death, Dowd and Johnstone-Burt had discussed the story and Dowd was contracted to write it. Afterward, Walker arranged separately with Ness to write and Jim Kay to illustrate, and those two completed the book without meeting. Ness won the Carnegie and Kay won the companion CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal (established 1955), the first time one book has won both medals.
On 7 May 2013, Ness was revealed to be the author of Tip of the Tongue, the May e-short featuring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa as part Puffin's eleven Doctor Who e-shorts in honour of the show's 50th anniversary.
His fourth young adult novel, More Than This, was released on 5 September 2013. It later made the Carnegie Medal shortlist of 2015.
The Crane Wife, Ness's third and most recent novel for adults, was released on 30 December 2014.
In 2014 Ness delivered the keynote speech at the Children's and Young Adult Program of the Berlin International Literature Festival.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here, was released 25 August 2015 in the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, and 5 October 2015 in Canada and the United States.
On 1 October 2015, the BBC announced that Ness would be writing a Doctor Who spin-off entitled Class, and the resulting eight-part series aired on BBC Three's online channel toward the end of 2016. In 2017, Ness announced that he was leaving the show at the end of the first season. The BBC later cancelled the series Class.
Ness' most recent book, Release, was published on 4 May 2017, dubbed by Ness as a 'private and intense book', with more personal inspiration than any before it.
Ness was born near the Fort Belvoir army base, near Alexandria, Virginia, US, where his father was a lieutenant in the US Army. They moved to Hawaii, where he lived until he was six, then spent the next ten years in Washington state, before moving to Los Angeles. Ness studied English Literature at the University of Southern California.
After graduating, he worked as corporate writer for a cable company. He published his first story in Genre magazine in 1997 and was working on his first novel when he moved to London in 1999.
Ness was naturalised a British citizen in 2005. He entered into a civil partnership with his partner in 2006, less than two months after the Civil Partnership Act came into force. In August 2013, Ness and his partner got married following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in California.
Ness taught creative writing at Oxford University and has written and reviewed for The Daily Telegraph, The Times Literary Supplement, The Sunday Telegraph and The Guardian. He reviews for The Guardian as of July 2012. He has been a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and was the first Writer in Residence for Booktrust.
The Knife of Never Letting Go won numerous awards including the Booktrust Teenage Prize, the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and the 2008 Tiptree Award. It was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal.
The Ask and the Answer won the 2009 Costa Book Award in the children's book category. It, too, made the Carnegie shortlist.
Monsters of Men won the CILIP Carnegie Medal and was shortlisted for the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award.
More Than This made the Carnegie shortlist also.
Ness's most recent book, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, received many awards, including six starred reviews, the Michael Printz Award shortlist, and the Kirkus Best Book of the Year.A Monster Calls (original idea by Siobhan Dowd) (2011)
More Than This (2013)
The Rest of Us Just Live Here (2015)
Release (May 2017)
The Knife of Never Letting Go (2008)
The Ask and the Answer (2009)
Monsters of Men (2010)
Related works"The New World" (short story) (2009)
"The Wide, Wide Sea" (short story) (2013)
"Snowscape" (short story) (2013)
The Crash of Hennington (2003)
The Crane Wife (2013)
Doctor Who: Tip of the Tongue (2013)
"This Whole Demoning Thing", Monstrous Affections, ed. Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant (2014)
Topics About Which I Know Nothing (2005)