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. Tharaa
    May 16, 2012 @ 6:39 am

    hi…. i love seasons of secrets very much..it ws very nice.. nw i read ‘wys 2 live frevr also. it’s very intrestng and a vey beautful story.. sally nicholas s a very good author i’m waitng to some mr new books f sally


  2. Kathryn
    April 12, 2012 @ 1:21 am

    I loved this book so much! I loved Sam he was a great character and we have so much in common! Your a great writer Sally, keep up the good work, and thank you so much, I can totally relate to Sam! He’s a great character.


  3. glory dhawan
    March 27, 2012 @ 10:47 am

    hey…i m from india …this was by an accident that i got…”ways to live forever” as a gift from my little bro,but after that it become the most memorable one for me …i am addicted to ur book…whenever i feel low and less confident i just start reading it …i dont know how but it gives me strength …have read it almost 50 times…thank you soo much ….


  4. Eloise
    March 11, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

    I saw your book at school on the shelf and it looked so interesting so i picked it up and read it.


  5. Maudya
    March 8, 2012 @ 3:55 am

    Sam is so strange,I love this story.
    How can I get Sam’s Family adress ?
    This book make me know what the meaning of life and make me love God.
    I always remember Sam said : “God is a great doctor.He make people sick to make them feel better,same like doctor do commoterapy to thir patient to make the patient feel better.No problem to God if you die,because it mean you will go to heaven,to His place.” I love WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER


  6. Ellie
    March 7, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

    I have never read any of your books before but you are coming to my school on 12th March and I am going to buy your book
    ‘Ways to live forever’


  7. Adele
    February 27, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

    Hi, I have read this book many times and I have to say I still love it. I am from Darlington and I like how the story feels local to me. I have known many people who have had leukaemia and other types of cancer and I know just how real this can be. It is a very moving story, which still makes me cry when I read it. An excellent book!


  8. Harry
    February 24, 2012 @ 2:43 am

    Very strong book. I recommend everyone to read this book… Very great book!!! I loved it!!~~ 😀


  9. Sam
    February 21, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

    This story was truly amazing. I had to read it for an assignment, and it really sparked something in me. Often times while reading it I was almost brought to tears. It felt real and hit a soft spot for me. I am aspiring to be an elementary school teacher, and for one of my classes at the University of Utah I had to read this and reflect on it and why it is such a great tool to use in the classroom. You are a very talented writer and I am excited to read this with my future classes.


  10. Zoe
    February 11, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

    hi were looking at this book in english, and writing our own stories based on your themes!! It’s really good


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