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. Anna
    August 9, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

    Wow. Oh my goodness. This is the only book so far that i have read that made me cry!!
    It was just the last list was my breaking point and i had to wait five minutes beforei could finish reading it!!
    This is the best book i have read in a long time i love it!!


  2. ashraff
    August 8, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

    your book is simply great!
    really change my point of view
    touch deep to my heart
    keep it up!


  3. Andrea
    August 6, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

    I’ve read the book this morning, before to go at work.
    I’ve lived a similar experience with my best friend when I was eight years old.
    Thanks for all emotion you are give me.

    Ti abbraccio forte



  4. trio
    July 9, 2009 @ 6:55 am

    hi sally, how are u?

    i love it


  5. Klara
    June 30, 2009 @ 12:43 pm

    Hi Sally!

    I read your book “ways to live forever”. i loved it. i’m looking forward on buying your nex book!!!


  6. jose luis
    June 10, 2009 @ 8:18 pm

    En España se titula “ESTO NO ES JUSTO”.
    Sally ya ha conseguido una forma de vivir para siempre, en el corazon de mucha gente.


  7. Jan
    May 20, 2009 @ 8:21 am


    I’m from Germany and we read the book in our class!! It’s fantastic ;-D.

    In true things in ways to live forever, you forget warhammer and the Green Day T-Shirt!!

    tschüss (in German)
    Jan and Thibault


  8. Harald Karl
    May 20, 2009 @ 8:20 am

    I like this book very much!!!!
    It’s great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  9. Gérhard
    May 20, 2009 @ 7:53 am

    Hello there! I like your book but i’ve read some better ones. The dying scene of Felix could be better.
    Greetings, Gérhard


  10. Amanda Cebula
    May 16, 2009 @ 11:10 am

    Hello Sally!
    I’m from Germany and “Ways to Live Forever” is such a nice book. We are now reading it in English, and I read it also in German. The title is “Wie man unsterblich wird”. Sometimes, I cried all night long, but sometimes I laughed so much. This book is really the most moving story I read. Thank you very much for telling us Sam’s story. It’s very affecting. Thanks, Sally!

    In Love,
    Amanda xxx
    [In German it’s Tschüss!]


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