About Me


MANDATORY CREDIT: PIC – ROB MCDOUGALL http://www.RobMcDougall.com 07856222103 info@robmcdougall.com


I was born and brought up in Edinburgh, where I went to James Gillespie’s High School, famous as the school where the author Muriel Spark was educated, and on which she based her most famous book The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Almost all the teachers when I was there seemed to be wildly eccentric spinsters, including one maths teacher who would climb onto a chair and disappear into a cupboard at one end of the room, and reappear out from a cupboard door at the other end, having crawled her way through. Then there was Miss Dalgliesh. She was my teacher in Primary 5. She always wore a black teaching gown, and used to swoop round the room like a large, friendly rook. She had a stuffed tawny owl in her room, and if you were particularly good, you might be allowed to take it home for the weekend. She used to invite some of us (we were all girls in Gillespie’s back then) to the flat she shared with her sister, to eat cream cakes and listen to her sister play the piano… I don’t think they make teachers like that any more, sadly, though I’ve done my best to keep up the great tradition of eccentricity in which I was raised.

When I finished school I went off to St Andrew’s University to study Zoology, then did teacher training (just so I could have another year lolling around as a student, really). At that point, I thought I wanted to be a Proper Scientist, so I went off to Southampton University to start a PhD. Unfortunately, I was rubbish at research. I wasn’t nearly clever enough. So I became a Biology teacher instead!

All the time though, what I really wanted to do was write. I wrote in secret (I know, how sad is that?) so that not even my family knew my Dark Secret. I tried a couple of books for adults, but just amassed  a splendid collection of rejection slips. Then I saw the Millennium Clock in the museum in Edinburgh, and suddenly I was writing The Chaos Clock, and suddenly it had turned into a childrens’ book. I still don’t quite know how that happened. It seemed to just decide it was a childrens’ book, and I didn’t feel I was in a position to argue with it.

Now, I can’t imagine why I ever wanted to write for adults. This has got to be the best job in the world…

Since writing The Chaos Clock, I’ve written picture books, children’s novels, teen novels and children’s science books. You can find out about all of them on the Books page.

And now, I’ve finally given up teaching – after what feels like about 832 years – to write full time, so this is the start of an exciting new chapter in my own life.


  1. Dear Gill,

    I love Chaos Clock. I teach a bunch of children in Standard 06, and we are going to begin reading Chaos Clock tomorrow as a part of our literature circle programme. I have always loved books that slowly prod you to go into deeper layers of questioning. I love what your book does to an inquiring mind.


    • Hi Dee,

      It’s great to hear from you, and I’m delighted that you’re using Chaos Clock with your class. I wrote it thinking about the sort of book that I loved to read when I was that age, and I was very keen to give it a real setting. If you’re ever in Edinburgh (no idea where you’re based!) you would find all the places, and even the little snowman in the museum!

      Maybe your class will have some questions for me once they’ve read it…

  2. Dear Gill,

    I am a former pupil from your EA days, and was delighted to see your new career move (well, new since 1988, anyway)… I have a little one of my own now (Kitty, 2), and will certainly get her one of your books (Lost at the Zoo, perhaps, to start with).

    Congratulations on all your success!


    • Hello James! Lovely to hear from you – it’s always nice when old pupils get in touch (though it invariably makes me feel about 100 years old). I think Lost at the Zoo is definitely the book for Kitty, to be followed up by the Giant Panda Party when that comes out next year.
      What are you up to these days?

  3. I have ended up in Essex, where I run a health partnership between the NHS and academia (so clearly the biology lessons must have had some impact). Interesting, fun, and hard work!

    Will be getting Lost at the Zoo for Kitty’s birthday!


  4. Hello Gill, I have come acorss your books via the book people – the science books – and I really like them because they offer more to children who want to know more. we started with the body book, then the periodic table, and now ‘The Germ Wars’ which is really good and very apt for this time. It is really good and in depth at the same in a language the children can understand. It just happened that I got the book off ‘ebay’ sorry – couldn’t find it anywhere else, but it is one signed by you. So that’s it we are fans. And we shall keep following your books – and you. Thank you very much and hope you are safe and keeping away from the germs. A. Anderson.

    • Hi Amanda, How nice of you to get in touch! It’s always a treat to hear when someone likes your books. Germ Wars is out of print, which is why you could only find it on eBay, but I will have a new microbe book coming out. On the meantime, you might enjoy What Makes You You? which is all about DNA.

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