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. OPI
    April 22, 2013 @ 7:51 am

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but
    good topic. I needs to spend some time learning
    much more or understanding more. Thanks for wonderful info I was looking for this info for
    my mission.


  2. Larry
    April 21, 2013 @ 10:52 am

    exactly where dо I buy this


  3. tegen butler -hardie
    April 8, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

    this was one of the first books i got from the library when i was 9 years old. i got it because the cover was purple and it was my favorite color. What a good choice nine year old me did, as 6 years later i’m still reading this book constantly, it is the best book i have read. It also helped me deal with the death of one of my best friends as i got it a month after he passed and it kind of like my bible, it taught me to embrace life and be thankful for everything. and to take in the moments that take our breathe away and never to give up. i highly recommend this book to anyone whenever they ask me what can i read. And Sally Nicholls You are a GENUIS!!


  4. http://tinyurl.com/lulubyrne43312
    January 24, 2013 @ 8:35 am

    Thanks for applying time to create _Sally Nicholls Ways to
    Live Forever_. Thank you once again ,Minna


  5. Duchess? Lady? I’d settle for Ma’am | Lucy Marcovitch
    October 3, 2012 @ 10:43 am

    […] gentle but insistent hand on our arm. They catch our eye, intrigue and nag at us.  Walk Two Moons, Ways to Live Forever, Broken Soup and Dear Nobody are some of my favourite YA titles of this […]


  6. Olivia Murphy
    September 24, 2012 @ 7:28 pm

    I’m 11 years old and i’ve read this book 15 times. I choose it for every book assignment and anything to do with books. Sally Nichols is one of the most talented writers yet. Amazed.


  7. rumpelstiltskin
    August 31, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

    I read your book recently and it is one of the best books i have ever read.
    May Sam and Felix rest in peace!


  8. Leona O'Boyle
    August 29, 2012 @ 10:17 pm

    hi Sally Nicholls you may not remember me you were at my school Kelso High School i bought one of your books i have no long finished reading ALL FALL DOWN. and i thought that it was really good i love your work. and i wanted you to know that when i was 9 years old i had a christmas poem published. and i am doing a story in english and i think that your books give me more more ideas. I hope you do well on your next book about the ghosts and i cant wait to read it. YOU ARE A TALENTED WRITER GOOD LUCK. XXXXXXXXXX 🙂


  9. Rebecca
    August 23, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

    i have already read seasons of secret and i just cant stop reading this… its really touching… i will recommend this book and seasons of secrets… both are really good… way to go Sally.


  10. Elizabeth
    July 16, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

    Hi, I’m twelve years old and I went to lightwater valley with school the other day, my nearest theme park! I went on the Ultimate for the first time. In fact, I went on it four times in a row, and d’you know what? When I was doing all that queueing I started to think of Sam and how he would’ve passed the time in that hour long queue with his cousins. Which is strange,I know, because he never existed in real life, but he is starting to exist through ME! (Minus the cancer. Luckily.)

    What also was strange is that I live not to far from a massive shopping centre in Gateshead, the metrocentre. I was ENTHUSED by the spirit of Sam to go up a down escalator utterly RANDOMLY one day.
    Here comes the wierd bit….after I’d done it, I was looking on the film’s website and found out that it was in fact FILMED IN THE METROCENTRE!
    I also find you a big inspiration as you’re the nearest writer from where I’m from, minus David Almond, as he is closer! But he’s a man….
    So, as I THINK you are living in London, are you missing the SUNNY(sarcasm obviously used) skies of Northern England?
    Also, when is WTLF coming out in England?!? It’s slightly strange that he’s English yet it’s released in loads of other different places first!
    So, good luck in your writing career, which I’m sure will be VERY successful! Even my dad enjoyed WTLF!!! Xxx I recommended it to EVERYONE! Xxx


Leave a Reply

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