Paul Stewart was born in London in 1955. His family lived first in Muswell Hill, North London and later in Morden, South London, where he went to school. His favourite subject at school was English and he hated Mathematics. When Paul left school, he went travelling, spending several months in Greece, where he took various jobs, including picking oranges and grapes, and whitewashing hotels.
From 1974-1977, Paul studied at the University of Lancaster, majoring in English, (which included a Creative Writing unit) with a minor in Religious Education. On graduation, he went travelling again, before enrolling in 1978 to do an M.A. in Creative Writing with Angela Carter and Malcolm Bradbury at the University of East Anglia. He went to Heidelberg, Germany in 1979 for three years, both as a teacher of English and as a student at Heidelberg University, learning German. In 1982, he went to Sri Lanka to teach English as a foreign language returning to the UK a year later where he continued to teach (1983–90) before becoming a full-time writer.
Paul Stewart’s first book to be published was The Thought Domain (1988) which was then followed by a number of other children’s and young adult novels, chiefly in the thriller, horror and SF/Fantasy genres. Paul Stewart’s only adult book to date, Trek, was published in 1991.
Paul Stewart's favourite books when a child were The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Rupert Bear Annuals, and the works of Alan Garner, especially Elidor. He also read a lot of science fiction.
Paul Stewart started writing at a very young age. At the age of seven he was writing a series about a snail called Oliver and he started a sequel to The Phantom Tollbooth at ten. Some of the ideas from this early work were later developed and became the basis of The Thought Domain which was published in 1988.
Paul Stewart first met Chris Riddell in 1993, through having children at the same school. Chris was looking for someone to write texts that he could illustrate. Paul had already had a number of books published. Their first collaborative work were the Rabbit and Hedgehog books (published 1998–2003 by Andersen Press). The inspiration for The Edge Chronicles came from a map Chris Riddell drew of an imaginary world in 1994 and then challenged Paul to write about it. The first book in the sequence, Beyond the Deepwoods, was commissioned by Transworld Publishers (now part of the Random House Group) on the basis of the map and the first four chapters. The book then took three years to write as Paul and Chris worked out both the plot and how best to work together. Originally commissioned as a single book, Paul and Chris hoped that it might become a trilogy. The series has now extended to ten books, three trilogies and a concluding novel, The Immortals, which was published in 2009.
When writing together, Paul and Chris work on the development of plots and characters together, sometimes starting from a bit of writing, sometimes from an illustration on one of Chris’s sketchbooks. They have long conversations over many days, during which the novels emerge. They don’t always agree and the debates can become quite heated but they have remained good friends. Following these discussions, Paul normally writes a first draft, which Chris will edit or rewrite before Paul produces a final draft.
As well as The Edge Chronicles, Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell have also collaborated on a trilogy of shorter adventures, Freelance; a quartet of younger books, The Far Flung Adventures, the first of which, Fergus Crane, won the Nestle Smarties Gold Prize in 2004; The Blobheads series (2000–2004); Muddle Earth (2003), and a further quartet, Barnaby Grimes (2007–2009). Their latest novel, Wyrmweald, was published by Doubleday Children’s Books in April 2010.
These three books constitute the Far Flung Adventures series, written by Stewart and illustrated by Riddell.2004 Smarties Prize Gold Medal, age category 6–8 years: Fergus Crane
2005 Smarties Prize Silver Medal, 6–8 years: Corby Flood
2006 Smarties Prize Silver Medal, 6–8 years: Hugo Pepper