Livi Michael

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Livi Michael
Born Olivia Wood
(1960-03-15) 15 March 1960 (age 57)
Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, UK
Occupation Novelist
Nationality British
Citizenship British
Education B.A (English), PhD
Genre Fiction
Notable works The Whispering Road (2005)
Children Paul and Ben

Livi Michael, also known as Olivia Michael (15 March 1960, Manchester), is a British fiction writer who publishes children and adult novels.[1]


Livi Michael began writing poetry at the age of seven.[2] She attended Tameside College of Technology;University of Leeds and completed B.A (English) with first-class-honors in 1989, and PhD in 1993.[citation needed] Her career as a novelist started with her first novel, Under a Thin Moon in 1992.[3] In addition to her writing, Michael also worked as a university lecturer teaching creative writing, and ran reading groups about women's fiction.[3] Michael began writing novels for adults in 1992, and wrote three more novels for adults before writing her first children's novel in 2002 called Frank and the Black Hamster of Narkiz.[3] While Michael was in the process of writing her first novel, she continued her education and completed her doctorate in 1993 at the University of Leeds.[4] There she earned a dissertation that was titled "Towards a Theory of Working Class Writing: Lewis Grassic Gibbon's A Scots Quair in the Context of Earlier Working Class Fiction . Michael completed her second novel while she taught english literature and creative writing part-time till 1998 at Manchester Metropolitan University and proceeded to write her third novel as well.[4] Michael's fourth novel was published in 2000.[4] Michael continues teaching english literature and creative writing for the Department of Cultural Studies at Sheffield Hallam University and writing novels for children.[4] In addition to teaching and writing, she also gives guest lectures, participates in writing workshops,[4] visit schools where she hosts reading groups and answers student's questions.[5]

Writing influences[edit]

One of the factors that influenced Michael's writing was her son's hamster named "Frank". She describes Frank as an "adventurous hamster, and something of an escapologist".[4] This is a contributing factor which led to the creation of the Frank series.[4] The first children's novel that Michael published was called Frank and the Black Hamster of Narkiz (2002), named after her son's hamster.[4]

In addition to that, Michael's writing influences come from the fact that she was raised in a single-parent home by her mother.[4] Also, Michael herself was an unemployed single mother of two.[4] She is aware of the effects of poverty on women as she is involved with women's organisations and community centres.[4] These factors have led to her understanding of women and their lives on various levels.[4] She highlights the world of poor and working class women through the characters in her novels.[4] She emphasises on the voice of her characters by writing in a limited third person which allows the reader "to hear [the character's] usually silenced voices".[4]

Notable works[edit]

Under a Thin Moon (1992)[edit]

Livi Michael's first novel, Under a Thin Moon (1992) is praised for its portrayal of the underprivileged and working class women.[4] It depicts that how the lives of four working class women are tied together because of their class and gender.[6] The story is set up in Manchester council estate during the period of British Conservative politician Margaret Thatcher.[6] Political elements such as capitalism and patriarchy are prominent in the novel, and criticised for the impoverished state of these women.[6] Each of these women struggle with poverty and unemployment which leads to the development of their similar identities despite their differing circumstances.[6]

Frank and the Black Hamster of Narkiz (2002)[edit]

Frank and the Black Hamster of Narkiz (2002) is a novel for younger children. It is a story of hamster named Frank who is brave and courageous unlike the other hamsters who are gentle, timid and domesticated creatures.[7][8] Frank has a mission and a motto – 'Courage!'.[8] He escapes from his cage and undertakes an adventurous journey to meet the mystreious black hamster of Narkiz.[7] After the success of the first novel, Michael went on to write a series of novels on Frank's adventures and all the novels have been successful.

The Whispering Road (2005)[edit]

Michael also wrote books for the young adults and The Whispering Road (2005) is one of her popular works in this genre. The novel represents the real but dark issues such as death, disease and abandonment through the lives of siblings Joe and Anne.[9] It begins with their escape from slavery of a cruel farmer, in the hope of finding their lost mother.[9] However, Joe's immature behaviour results in their separation along the journey. His guilt and deep love for his sister compels him to find her again which generates readers interest and sympathy towards his character.[9] Michael sustains a spirit of kindness and hope throughout to balance out the dark and disturbing elements of the novel.[9] The amalgamation of accurate historical facts and the elements of fantasy is interesting and appeals to the young readers.[9]

Awards and honors[edit]

Books Awards
Under a Thin Moon (1992) Arthur Welton Award (1992),[3] Society of Authors award (1992).[1]
Their Angel Reach (1994) John Steinbeck Award shortlist (1994), and John Llewellyn Rhys Award shortlist (1994),[1] and Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize (1995),[3] Society of Authors award.
All the Dark Air (1997) The Mind (charity) Book of the Year Award/Allen Lane Award shortlist (1997),[3] Society of Authors Award.[1]
Frank and the Black Hamster of Narkiz (2002) Branford Boase Award shortlist (2002).[1]
The Whispering Road (2005) Bronze award, Nestlé Children's Book Prize (2005).[1]


Books for adults[edit]

  • 2015 Succession, St. Martin's Press
  • 2000 Inheritance, Penguin
  • 1997 All the Dark Air, Secker & Warburg
  • 1994 Their Angel Reach, Secker & Warburg
  • 1992 Under a Thin Moon, Secker & Warburg

Books for older children[edit]

  • 2012 Malkin Child, Foxtail
  • 2009 Faerie Heart, Puffin
  • 2005 The Whispering Road, Puffin
  • 2006 The Angel Stone, Puffin
  • 2008 Sky Wolves, Puffin

Books for younger children[edit]

  • 2009 43 Bin Street
  • 2007 City of Dogs, Putnam
  • 2006 Seventeen Times as High as the Moon, Orchard
  • 2005 Frank and the New Narkiz, Puffin
  • 2004 Frank and the Flames of Truth, Puffin
  • 2003 Frank and the Chamber of Fear, Puffin
  • 2002 Frank and the Black Hamster of Narkiz, Puffin

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f
  2. ^ "Livi Michael – Penguin Books Authors – Penguin Books". 15 March 1960. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f British Council. "Livi Michael | British Council Literature". Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Livi Michael Biography". Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Livi michael. "Livi Michael;Author". Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Customer Reviews: Under a Thin Moon". Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  7. ^ a b cool-reads, (22 September 2007). "books for 10–15-year-old readers by 10–15-year-old reviewers". Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Dowd, Siobhan. "Frank and the Black Hamster of Narkiz: Livi Michael, Derek Brazell: Books". Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "THE WHISPERING ROAD by Livi Michael". 14 April 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 

External links[edit]