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. :)
    May 12, 2009 @ 7:05 pm

    Hi Sally I write you from Italy. I have just ended of to read the book “Volevo vivere per sempre”. This book is moving and touching. I wish for you a nice writer career.
    Thanks for the beautiful emotions that with this book you have given us.
    Compliments, indeed.
    Excuse for possible errors, but I am not good at English.
    Kisses from Italy


  2. Eduardo
    May 7, 2009 @ 10:52 pm

    I’m from Brasil and I believe and say that the book is wonderful. The title in english, “Ways to Live Forever”, tickles my tongue, i guess. Até mais! (in portuguese, it says bie-bie!)


  3. Lauren
    May 5, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

    I think ways to live forever is the best book i have ever read. if it were to win the Gateshead book award i would be so happy.IT IS GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  4. sophie
    April 8, 2009 @ 9:07 pm

    hey sally,
    i am 11 yrs old and love to read. your book was the best book i have read it has inspired me so much. your a great writer cant wait for your naext book sophiexxxxxx


  5. Maya
    April 8, 2009 @ 6:19 am

    Hi Sally, I come from Indonesia in south east Asia
    I really love your Book
    I cannt stop crying when i was reading it
    you’re a great author

    love you,

    cannt wait your 2nd book X)


  6. Hazel
    April 4, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

    I can’t say how much I loved your book.It is sad, but sad is happy for deep people


  7. Emma
    April 3, 2009 @ 10:45 am

    i think that you are fab.
    love ya


  8. Emma
    March 6, 2009 @ 6:19 pm

    Hi Sally!
    Iam from AUSTRIA.
    I like your book very much.
    I will tell everbody in our class about this book.
    Thanks emma


  9. Emma
    March 6, 2009 @ 6:15 pm

    Hi Sally!
    Ich komme aus Österreich und habe dein Buch: Wie man unsterblich wird gelesen. Es hat mir super gefallen und deshalb stelle ich es in Deutsch auch vor. Zurzeit bearbeite ich es gerade damit jeder nur den beste eindruck von dem Buch bekommt.


  10. Patt
    March 4, 2009 @ 2:32 pm

    Hi, i’m from Italy i read your book and i think it is fantastic!


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