First published in 1981 in an article in The Guardian that described the highs and lows of a camping holiday in the USSR, Alan Combes’ writing in the intervening 34 years has covered numerous formats and genres.
He has written several educational text books and edited a prize-winning series of books about inclusivity in schools for the prestigious David Fulton Publishers, (now Taylor & Francis). His work has appeared extensively in the Times Educational Supplement and resulted in his leading a number of courses for teachers. He retired from teaching in 2006 due to illness.
His love of sport is reflected in his writing about athletics which appeared in the Guardian and numerous national magazines. In 1999 he started to work as a football correspondent for the Sunday Times, a post he held until 2010.
It was during half-time breaks that he began scribbling football fiction for schools and three of his books – United Here I Come, City Boy and Red Card published by Barrington Stoke (specialist publishers for youngsters with reading needs) continue to earn excellent royalties. Two of these titles have been published in Sweden and the Lebanon respectively.
For the same publishers Combes wrote The Dead Man Files, a series of adventures about a young man who returns from the dead to avenge his death and to offer supernatural help to friends and family who remain in their earthly lives.
On the basis of his work for Barrington Stoke, Combes’ popularity in Ireland led to a tour of Dublin schools in 2012. He still works as a visiting writer in some local schools.
With York musician Norman Fowler he wrote the stage musical Black Potatoes which played to full houses for a week at the Upstage Centre, York, in November 2010. It remains one of his greatest regrets that this work has not yet been performed in a professional theatre.
In 2013 he self-published I Am Golgotha, a very different kind of ghost story in that the narrator is the haunted house itself. Given the distribution obstacles to self-publishing the novel continues to sell quite healthily and should recoup costs. The publisher has entered the title for the Costa First Novel award in 2014.