Julie Bertagna

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Julie Bertagna
Born 1962
Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland
Occupation Novelist
Genre Real life, Science fiction
Notable works Exodus

Julie Bertagna (born in 1962) is a Scottish author who has written real life and science fiction novels for both children and young adults. Her books have been shortlisted for several literature awards, including the Carnegie Medal and her novel Exodus was the winner of the Lancashire County Library Children’s Book of the Year Award.[1] Soundtrack, her second novel for young adults, won a Scottish Arts Council Award,[2] the second highest award ever given to a Scottish children's writer.[2]


Bertagna was born in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, and moved to Glasgow when she was seven years old.

After receiving an MA Hons in English Language and Literature at Glasgow University[2][3] she worked as an editor for a small magazine, then moved into teaching before working as a freelance journalist for various publications.[4] She then published her first book, The Spark Gap, when she was 25 years old.

She currently writes full-time and lives in the West End of Glasgow with her husband Riccardo and young daughter.


Her writing often reflects her Scottish background, sometimes being set in the country. An example of this is The Spark Gap, which she wrote specifically [5] to include characters like the children she was teaching in Glasgow.

Other influences of her work include global warming and climate change, being major themes in her novel Exodus, which took the "highly commended" award, the equivalent of second prize, at the first Eco Prize, held by the Friends of the Earth Scotland.[6] Her first novel for Young Picador, Exodus, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Award and was described by The Guardian as "a miracle of a novel".

Her book The Opposite of Chocolate deals with issues of teenage pregnancy.

Notable works[edit]

Julie Bertagna has written books for both children and young adults. Bertagna's first book was The Spark Gap. Her most recent book is Zenith, the sequel to Exodus. Both of these books were written for young adults.

The Spark Gap (1996)[edit]

Kerrie feels trapped. She can't spend another day in her chaotic mother's house. Then Kerrie finds an escape. On the rooftop of a nearby tower block live two castaway teenagers, Mauve and Skip. As Kerrie starts to share their sky-high home, she relishes her new-found freedom. And when a freak fire destroys their towerblock, Kerrie decides to leave the city with Mauve and Skip. She thinks that she can leave her problems behind in Glasgow – but what will happen when Kerrie stops running?

Exodus (2002)[edit]

Exodus is set in 2100 - and the world is gradually drowning, as mighty Arctic ice floes melt, the seas rise, and land disappears forever beneath storm-tossed waves. For 15-year-old Mara, her family and community, huddled on the fast-disappearing island of Wing, the new century brings flight. Packed into tiny boats, a terrifying journey begins to a bizarre city that rises into the sky, built on the drowned remains of the ancient city of Glasgow. But even here there is no safety and, shut out of the city, Mara realizes they are asylum-seekers in a world torn between high-tech wizardry and the most primitive injustice. To save her people, Mara must not only find a way into the city but also search for a new land and a new home...

Zenith (2003)[edit]

Zenith is a sequel to Exodus and continues the story of Mara as the world is gradually drowning, as mighty Arctic ice floes melt, the seas rise, and land disappears forever beneath storm-tossed waves....

Sixteen-year-old Mara and her ship of refugees are tracking the North Star, desperate to find a homeland in the melted ice mountains of Greenland. The vast, floating city of Pomperoy is just one of the shocks that are not in their navigation plans. Unwittingly, the refugees bring catastrophe in their wake for Tuck, a gypsea pirate-boy, and also for Ilira – a land whose inhabitants exist in a state of terror at the top of the world.

Back in the drowned ruins at the feet of the towering sky city, Fox is beginning his battle with the cruel, corrupt forces that rule the New World. But separated from Mara, his resolve begins to waver....

Aurora (2011)[edit]

Aurora is the third in the trilogy after Exodus and Zenith. This story focuses on Mara's 15-year-old daughter, Lily, and her discovery of the world she lives in.

Meanwhile, Fox is leading a rebellion in the New World cities and attempting to get as many people as possible to the city where Mara and the others are located by Lake Longhope in Greenland. After losing contact with Mara years ago, he hangs on to the hope that he can still find her.

Other works[edit]

  • The Ice Cream Machine (1998)
  • Soundtrack (1999)
  • Bungee Hero (1999)
  • Dolphin Boy (1999)
  • Clumsy Clumps and the Baby Moon (1999)
  • '"Amphibian City" (1999) (In Phenomenal Future Stories, edited by Tony Bradman)
  • The Opposite of Chocolate (2003)
  • Ice Cream Machine Totally Fizzbombed (2005)

Television series[edit]

In January 2004 a television series for children was created based on Bertagna's book The Ice Cream Machine. The programme[7] is produced in a co-production of Five with SMG and the Gaelic Broadcasting Committee. It is aimed at six- to nine-year-olds and will be broadcast in both English and Gaelic.


  1. ^ Children's Book of the Year Winner Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine., Lancashire County Library. Retrieved February 2007.
  2. ^ a b c Julie Bertagna Archived 2007-02-03 at the Wayback Machine., Clients, David Higham Associates. Retrieved February 2007.
  3. ^ Official site, "About Me" section. Retrieved 20 February 2007.
  4. ^ Interview with Julie Retrieved 23 February 2007.
  5. ^ Official site, "The story behind the story" section. Retrieved February 2007.
  6. ^ Winners of Scotland's First Eco Prize for Creativity Announced Archived 2007-06-17 at the Wayback Machine., Press Release, Friends of the Earth Scotland. Retrieved February 2007.
  7. ^ Official series website Archived 2007-03-15 at the Wayback Machine., Ice Cream Machine. Retrieved August 2007.

External links[edit]