Ellen Renner

Ellen Renner

Children's and YA author. Creative writing tutor.

Also writes as

Ellen Richardson
Booking enquiry
Ellen Renner - author tools

Available for

Workshop, Talk, Reading, Interview


Age 7 to 11, Age 11 to 14, Age 14 to 16, Age 16 to 18+, Further Education, University, Adult


Adventure, Fable, Fairy tale, Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction narrative, Folklore, Magical realism, Mythology, Narrative, Realistic fiction

Book types

Fiction 8-13, Fiction for young-adults


  • Cornerstones Wow Factor
  • North East Book Award
  • Shortlisted: West Sussex Children's Book Award
  • Shortlisted: Sefton Super Reads
  • Shortlisted: EOCT Riveting Reads Award



Books made me. My parents came from working class, subsistence-farming backgrounds in rural Missouri. Reading inspired me to travel beyond the safe and known, and I became the first person in my family's history to hold a passport. The journey of the imagination took me even further: I became a writer.

I'm passionate about children's literature and the importance of reading for pleasure. I love working with children and encouraging them to believe in the strength of their imaginations.

What do I want readers to take from my books? Unforgettable characters, richly imagined worlds, challenging problems and sweeping adventure! My books entertain but also ask questions about empathy, power, privilege, gender and otherness. My current series, the Storm Witch books, have a core environmental theme that can help children explore and question our own crisis and how the world should best respond.

Fantasy is the tool I use to explore aspects of our world. S.F. Said, in his Guardian review of my young adult book, Tribute, observes: "Two things make or break a fantasy novel: the magic and the world. In both these respects, Ellen Renner's Tribute shares something with Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea books, stories that gave us an original conception of magic and a richly imagined world, using the genre to say something deeply resonant about our own world."

Tribute was endorsed by Amnesty International.

Currently, I'm writing my eleventh book for publication. My first, Castle of Shadows, came out in 2010 and won the Cornerstones Wow Factor, the North East Book Award, and was shortlisted for half-a-dozen regional awards. It made both the Times and the Independent newspapers' lists of best books of 2010.

Author appearances, school and library visits and festivals:

I have enjoyed many school and library visits over the past nine years, and they remain one of the great pleasures of my writing career. I love working with children on their own creative writing, but am also happy speaking to larger audiences and assemblies. I have given workshops to children, teens and adults.

I have worked with the Hay Festival, Exeter EXEtreme Literary Festival (author in residence to both high schools and primaries; workshops for adults in writing fantasy) and various regional festivals.

I was the 'Writing for Children' Tutor for the London School of Journalism for several years, and am happy to teach creative writing to young adults or adults, as well as children.

We need to talk about the environment: The Storm Witch books and are an excellent narrative to use to begin a discussion about the environmental crisis with groups of children and young people. Teacher's materials are available.

School/library visits and writing workshops can be given on any topic concerning writing for children or children's own writing, including: world-building, character, plot, dialogue, and how to write a really good villain. I also give workshops on writing fantasy for readers of all ages.

I trained as a painter and printmaker and love speaking about how drawing and art can inspire creative writing. I also give workshops on using drawing to find and develop your characters.

I have experience with interviews in print and live radio, including the BBC's Radio Devon, Radio Scilly and Radio Leicester.


Books by Ellen Renner

Storm Witch

Storm Witch

The first book in a thrilling new series about the environment, empathy and otherness introduces Storm, a girl who has never quite fitted in. On her Choosing Night, when all the thirteen year old girls make a night-time journey to the top of the island's ancient volcano, Storm learns her life will not be an ordinary one. She is given magical power by three Elemental spirits and nearly killed by the fourth. Why does the Salamander want her dead? And can her magic save her island when the sea-dwelling pirates, the Drowned Ones, attack? "Reminiscent of Ursula K. Le Guin's EARTHSEA series." Guardian 
Under Earth

Under Earth

As her island's new Weather witch, Storm must sail with the fleet into dangerous waters. The Drowned Ones are out for revenge and the sea is treacherous. But it's Bellum Town that brings Storm her first real test. And where she learns that her magic could save her or it could be the end of everything ... 


Zara is a mage, an elite in a world where magic is power and the non-magical majority are enslaved. When her Tribute slave and best friend is killed for the crime of literacy, Zara vows revenge by spying for the rebel Knowledge Seekers. But Zara is more than a renegade mage, she is the daughter of Benedict, hated Arch-mage and tyrant. Hunted by her own kind, she must convince the Knowledge Seekers she is on their side. But when you can kill with a thought, can you ever be trusted? 


For generations, the Makers and the Mages have been at war - magic versus technology - with neither side winning the bloody battle. Zara, daughter of the Arch-mage, has fled to the city of the Makers to escape her hated father. But she is anything but safe. The Makers exterminated all magic-users generations ago, and Zara must keep her identity hidden or be killed as a witch. When she discovers the Makers' dark secret, she realises she must leave their city. Hunted by both sides, with no one to trust and nowhere to go, Zara embarks on a journey that will test her magic and courage to their limits, and confound everything she thought she knew about herself. 
Castle of Shadows

Castle of Shadows

Charlie is a ragamuffin princess. Her mother the Queen has vanished. Her father the King is mad. Charlie's life is made a misery by the castle's housekeeper, Mrs O'Dair, a mountain in black bombazine and a whalebone corset. Her only friend is the butler, Mr Moleglass, who has taken refuge in the cellars. Then, one day, she discovers a fragment of a letter. The clue sets Charlie on the trail of a dark mystery as she sets out in search of her missing mother and finds treachery and danger instead. 
City of Thieves

City of Thieves

In the sequel to Castle of Shadows, Tobias, the gardener's boy, takes centre stage as he runs away from the castle only to fall into the clutches of his Uncle Zebediah's sinister gang of thieves. Worse follows, and the secret of who Tobias's father really is could threaten not just him, but his best friend, Charlie, the new Queen of Quale. 
Charmed Summer (The Flip-Flop Club)

Charmed Summer (The Flip-Flop Club)

When Elly makes two new friends at a super-secret midnight meeting in a tree house, her summer suddenly gets a whole lot sunnier. Along with Tash's cheeky dog, Mojo, the girls explore Sunday Island - uncovering a mystery that links their pasts, but threatens their friendship... 
Whale Song (The Flip Flop Club)

Whale Song (The Flip Flop Club)

Elly, Tash, and Sierra are off on a whale-spotting adventure! But when one of Sunday Island's freak storms rolls in, they're tossed into the sea, and Tash's precious boat, The Mojo, is shipwrecked. Stranded on an island. Nobody knows where they are. Will the girls have to spend a night under the stars - alone on a deserted island? 
Midnight Messages (The Flip Flop Club)

Midnight Messages (The Flip Flop Club)

Ghosts don't really exist, do they? Elly, Tash and Sierra aren't so sure. When their sleepover is interrupted by mysterious lights coming from the graveyard, the girls decide to investigate. Is the island haunted, or is there something even scarier going on? 
Star Struck (The Flip Flop Club)

Star Struck (The Flip Flop Club)

It's time for the Sunday Island Music Festival! Elly, Tash and Sierra have formed a band and are entering a competiton to perform onstage with the top-secret headline act. But the girls discover that the festival is in big trouble - and it's up to them to save it!