John Niven

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John Niven
(photo credit: Miriam Caputo)

John Niven (born 1968) is a Scottish author and screenwriter. His books include Kill Your Friends, The Amateurs, and The Second Coming.


Born in Irvine, Ayrshire, Niven read English literature at the University of Glasgow, graduating in 1991 with First Class honours. For the next ten years, he worked for a variety of record companies, including London Records and Independiente. He left the music industry to write full-time in 2002 and published his debut novella Music from Big Pink in 2005 (Continuum Press). The novella was optioned for the screen by CC Films with a script has been written by English playwright Jez Butterworth. Niven's breakthrough novel Kill Your Friends is a satire of the music business, based on his brief career in A&R, during which he passed up the chance to sign Coldplay and Muse. The novel was published by William Heinemann in 2008 to much acclaim, with Word magazine describing it as "possibly the best British Novel since Trainspotting". It has been translated into seven languages and was a bestseller in Britain and Germany. Niven has since published The Amateurs (2009), The Second Coming (2011), Cold Hands (2012), Straight White Male (2013), The Sunshine Cruise Company (2015)[1] and Kill 'em All (2018).[2]

He also writes original screenplays with writing partner Nick Ball, the younger brother of British TV presenter Zoë Ball. His journalistic contributions to newspapers and magazines include a monthly column for Q magazine, entitled "London Kills Me". In 2009 Niven wrote a controversial article for The Independent newspaper where he attacked the media's largely complacent coverage of Michael Jackson's death.[3]

In 2005 he co-wrote the lyrics of two songs on James Dean Bradfield's album The Great Western.[4]

Niven co-wrote the screenplay How to Build a Girl, opposite Caitlin Moran, based upon her novel of the same name, which will be directed by Coky Giedroyc.[5]


  • Music from Big Pink: A Novella (33 1/3) (2005)
  • Kill Your Friends (2008)
  • The Amateurs (2009)
  • The Second Coming (2011)
  • Cold Hands (2012)
  • Straight White Male (2013)
  • The Sunshine Cruise Company (2015)
  • No Good Deed (2017, ISBN 978-0434023295)
  • Kill 'Em All — sequel to Kill Your Friends (2018, ISBN 978-1785151576
  • Dad The Impaler (2019, ISBN 978-0434023264



  1. ^ "Book review: The Sunshine Cruise Company by John Niven". The Independent. 2015-08-13. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
  2. ^ Niven, John. "Kill 'Em All". Retrieved 2019-01-25.
  3. ^ "Michael Jackson: Bad! And very dangerous". The Independent. 23 October 2011.
  4. ^ Morris, Sophie (17 February 2008). "How We Met: John Niven & James Dean Bradfield – Profiles – People – The Independent". The Independent. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  5. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (July 16, 2018). "Beanie Feldstein Comedy 'How To Build A Girl' Adds Cast, Lionsgate With Shoot Under Way". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 16, 2018.

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