Ways to Live Forever

ways to live forever

ExtractSam loves facts. He wants to know about UFOs and horror movies and airships and ghosts and scientists, and how it feels to kiss a girl.

And because he has leukaemia he wants to know the facts about dying. Sam needs answers to the questions nobody will answer.

My name is Sam. I am eleven years old. I collect stories and fantastic facts. By the time you read this, I will probably be dead.

True Facts About Ways to Live Forever


I really did run up down escalators when I was writing this book. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages and I thought, if Sam can do it, so can I. I did it in the same place Sam does – at the Cornmill Centre in Darlington.



The chapter Visits is based on something my mother did after I was diagnosed with diabetes as a child. It was supposed to be a funny scene – but it didn’t turn out that way when I wrote it.



I deleted over 20,000 words while writing this book (the finished novel is around 32,000 words long). Some of the scenes I deleted include a list of famous last words, a description of how a dead body decomposes and a scene where Sam and Felix try and break their world record by dropping water bombs on Sam’s dad.


There are a few real names and places in this book. Auntie Nicola, Auntie Sarah and Auntie Carolyn are named after friends of mine, as is Raoul, the airship pilot. Stanley Rhode (the airship captain) gets his name from Stanley Road, the street I lived on at university. My friends and I always meant to put Stanley Rhode into one of our essays but never did, so I put him in the book instead. High Strawberry – on Sam’s list of favourite things – is also a real place. We used to stay there when I was a child.


The first words I wrote when I began this book were:

pen Paper

List No. 1 – Five Important Facts About Me

1. My name is David Oliver Robinson.

2. I am eleven years, two months and seven days old.

3. I have one sister. Her name is Katherine Anne Robinson and she is nine years old.

4. I have acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

5. By the time you read this, I will already be dead.

Reviews of Ways to Live Forever

“impressed by Sally Nicholls’ sensitive handling of terminal illness in Ways to Live Forever”

Mal Peet, The Guardian

“Sympathetic, touching, and surprisingly funny…”


“Sally Nicholls has precisely captured the contents of an 11-year-old boy’s head in all its humorous, list-making splendour.” 

Junior Education Plus


  1. Soraia
    March 3, 2009 @ 6:59 pm

    Hi,I come from Portugal, i was stopping by a store and your book call my atention, my teacher asked us to do an oral presentation were we have to read a book and then teel the storie to all the students, I have choosed your book and tomorrow its the day. I think this is probably one of my favourite books and change my vision of the world where I live today. Thanks a lot I really loved it.


  2. Kelly
    February 28, 2009 @ 8:45 pm

    I am half way through this book but has already become my favourite! And trust me, I’ve read a lot of books


  3. Kelsie Spanjer
    February 20, 2009 @ 4:03 pm

    This was the best book I’ve ever read! It made me cry, laugh, and even think about my life.


  4. Megan
    February 18, 2009 @ 4:24 pm

    It was the best book I have ever read!!!
    I totally recomend it!!!
    It is fantastic!! but very sad!


  5. Michael
    February 12, 2009 @ 2:13 pm

    The book was great.
    Das Buch war fantastisch.


  6. Angie
    February 11, 2009 @ 6:04 am

    Hi Sally,
    It’s a great book. Me & my 8-yr-old daughter love it sooo much…
    Can’t wait to read your “Season of Secrets”.

    Keep Writing and… Good Luck !!


  7. Nivedita from Filton High School
    February 5, 2009 @ 2:09 pm

    Wow! I don’t know where to begin!! Ways to Live Forever is a fantabulous and most moving book I have ever read. I can’t wait to read your upcoming book ‘Season of Secrets’


  8. Luckyie
    January 31, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

    Hello !
    I’m french pupil. You’re book is fanstastic !


  9. Geri
    January 12, 2009 @ 6:41 pm

    hey!! i only bought the book this morning and im nearly done!!! i love it!! it’s really deep or something!!=)


  10. Kasia
    January 11, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

    Hi. I come from Poland. In my nation this book has a different tittle : “Olivier i jego zeszyt z marzeniami” I really love this book. It’s great and fantastic…..

    Regards Kasia from Poland


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