Stone Cold by Robert Swindells, Essential Revision Notes
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Important background 3
Robert Swindells is a popular English novelist for children and young adults, perhaps best known for Brother in the Land, the story of a boy's struggle for survival after a nuclear holocaust. Swindells won the prestigious Carnegie Medal in 1994 for Stone Cold, the story of a serial killer whose victims are homeless teenagers.
Many of Swindells' books have chilling elements, and he demonstrates how his characters’ courage enables them to survive. Swindells also offers a variety of imaginative plots and realistic endings. As critic Myles McDowell noted, “He respects the maturity of his young readers and offers them compelling and sometimes profound imaginative experiences in language which is potent and easily accessible."
Swindells was born in 1939, and his childhood memories are influenced by World War II. In an essay, he recalled that as a young child, he visualized Germans as ‘black, hairy creatures with fangs who dropped bombs from aeroplanes.’ After the war, Swindells had more unrest to deal with: his parents argued regularly, and their tiny house was crowded and noisy with his four other siblings. Reading was his way of finding refuge.
When he was fifteen, Swindells graduated and went to work. After a few years, his relationship deteriorated with his father, and his mother became ill. Swindells left home and joined the Royal Air Force for three years, but he decided not to re-enlist when his service ended. Instead, he got a factory job, married, and fathered two daughters.
In 1967, Swindells returned to school, taking evening classes. Two years later he passed his exams and applied for a position at a nearby teacher's training college, where Swindells discovered a new interest. "One of the things we did in college was to read children's novels. Lots of them. I loved them. I thought, 'These are much ...