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. หนังเอ็ก
    May 31, 2016 @ 9:19 am

    I want to to thank yⲟu fⲟr thіѕ еҳcеllᥱnt гeaⅾ!!
    ӏ aƅѕοlutеⅼү ⅼⲟνеⅾ
    ᥱѵeгү ⅼіttⅼᥱ Ƅіt οf
    іt. Ӏ Һɑνe үou ѕаνеⅾ ɑs ɑ
    faνогitе to ⅼоⲟқ
    аt neѡ thіngѕ ʏοᥙ ⲣօѕt…


  2. Evelina
    April 29, 2016 @ 7:15 pm

    Hey , Sally ! I burst into tears when I finished this book and now , this is my favourite book . Sam thought me a lot of things , especially how to live your own life and be happy even when you know you’ll die . Thank you ! Kisses from Romania !


  3. Zack
    January 30, 2016 @ 9:48 am

    I love this book, especially the seemingly simple parts that somehow bring out the meaning in Sam’s life 🙂 I’ve reread the book at least 5 times and it still brings tears to my eyes and new insights every time I read it. Thank you so much for this beautiful contribution to the world.
    Cheers from Singapore!


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