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The Art of Not Breathing one year on: top eight highlights

Sarah Alexander

A year has passed since The Art of Not Breathing hit shelves in the UK. It feels like yesterday and it feels like a lifetime ago. Anniversaries are always a good opportunity for a bit of self-indulgent reflection, so here’s a list of my top eight highlights.



1. Glowing reviews from the trade publications in the US before the book came out.

2. Going into bookshops and signing my books. I love seeing that little round sticker on the front (no, not the ‘2 for 1’ – the ‘signed by the author’ one).

3. Related to #2 – seeing my book on a shelf. I’m still in love with the cover.

4. Getting to be part of YA Shot, a children’s book festival that supports school and library literacy schemes. I was on a panel with two amazing authors whose books I adore – Claire Furniss and Jenny Downham.

5. The Art of Not Breathing has been shortlisted for the Sheffield Children’s Book Award in the Longer Novels and Young Adult category – winners will be announced in November.

6. New friends. Through real-life events and social media I’ve met some incredibly generous and talented people and their support has been invaluable.

7. Hearing from people I know and used to know. I had zero expectations about friends and family reading my book so every time someone did read it and got in touch to tell me, I was over the moon. But support also came from the most surprising places – people I hadn’t been in contact with for years and those I least expected to enjoy a young adult novel sent me lengthy messages telling me everything they loved about the book.

8. I’ve saved the best until last… hearing from people I’ve never met – readers who’ve come across my book of their own accord and loved it. Readers from all corners of the world have got in touch, some to say simply that they enjoyed reading it, many have mentioned that they are reluctant readers but couldn’t put the book down and others have sent letters to say that the book has changed their lives. HEARING FROM A READER IS THE BEST FEELING EVER. Nothing can beat it and it makes it all worthwhile.


- The Russian and Chinese editions of the Art of Not Breathing are out very soon!

- The paperback edition is out in the US this month (11th April).

- I’m doing a massive international giveaway this month of the US hardcover edition. Watch this space for details.

- I’m currently working on two more novels. Speaking of which, I’d better get on… scribble, scribble, scribble.