John Alex Taylor

Apples in the Dark will be available in Ebook form in January 2024.

The paperback with Louise Ryder’s gorgeous cover will now be published by Troubador in June.
You will be able to order it from your local bookshop or from the Troubador website.
Now, Apples in the Dark will be a SUMMER READ!

Sitting here in December, thinking of summer, here is ten-year-old Alice thinking long thoughts on Tenby beach in August. This is near the beginning of Apples in the Dark.


Forget the Evil Twins – I had plans to make school better in year six anyway. Think Rachel instead.

Rachel. Did she have any friends? She told us her housemate had left, and her voice sounded hurt when she said it. I hoped she wasn’t alone. Why hadn’t I thought of her all summer? Dad, that’s why. Dad had stolen my summer.

Was Rachel another Dad? An adult who needed to be rescued every so often? And did she have anyone to rescue her? I started to wonder whether that would be my job. I’ve got form when it comes to rescuing adults. Even Mam.

Mam quite a lot, actually.

And thinking about all that turned my holiday in Tenby into a different kind of holiday. I told Mam I just liked sitting playing with the sand between my fingers while she did her sketching. But really, I was having a holiday inside Alice Howells. Figuring out me. And Mam didn’t interrupt – she’s good like that. I think she knew something was happening that mattered – maybe that’s why all her sketches were of my face.

I’d discovered a part of being Alice that I hadn’t known was there.

Not all kids notice what it’s like to be other people. Not all kids want to. But I do. Other people are amazing, once you get inside them. And that’s what makes me Alice. I get inside people.

I knew what had made Rachel run away. It was like Mam pulled her down into a big pool of friendliness and poor Rachel couldn’t swim. Not without endless space and time to get her used to the water. And thinking about that pool of friendliness made me realise that I knew quite a lot about being Rachel.

Part of being Alice is being Rachel or Mam or Dad or anyone else around me. Even being Dad when he’s out of his skull. I’ve been there and it’s as scary as anything I’ve ever known, but I know the feeling, and that helps me talk to him. And swear.

I swear more than is healthy for a ten-year-old, that’s what Nan says. And then she spoils it by going, ‘Ych a fi!’ like she does. Swearing in Welsh doesn’t seem to count.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *