Paul Mason is a nonfiction writer specializing in high-interest material for children. Judging from the speed with which youthful visitors ‘borrowed’ his gratis copies, Paul’s best book so far is The Poo That Animals Do (Wayland, 2017). The critics agreed with the borrowers, shortlisting the book for the 4–11 Picture Book award 2018. His work generally finds its way into a subject via the backdoor, whether it’s the long-debated question of whether you can be sucked down an airplane toilet when you flush it (The Fact or Fiction Behind Urban Myths), the science of criminal detection (How to Be a Detective) or just, modestly, how to save the world (101 Ways to Save the Planet Before Bedtime).
As well as being a writer Paul is a nationally ranked open-water swimmer and a swimming coach. In 2013 Bloomsbury published his book for adults, Swim Better, Swim Faster, and in 2017 the follow-up, Swimming for Triathlon and Open Water. Paul’s blog for the Guardian newspaper, Heroes of Swimming, tells the tales of swimmers ranging from Hollywood stars like Johnny Weissmuller to underground heroes such as Egypt’s Abdel Latif Abu Heif.
Paul’s writing was first published at thirteen, when his (anonymous) report on his own victory in a regional swimming competition was miraculously printed in the Portsmouth Evening News. He’s been at it ever since, though not always abiding Samuel Johnson’s dictum, ‘No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.’ Given this, Paul has also worked as a shelf stacker, lifeguard, snowboard instructor, commis chef, editor and publisher.