M. G. Leonard is an award-winning, bestselling writer of children’s books. Her Beetle Boy books have sold in forty countries and she is currently writing the screenplay for a TV series based on the trilogy. She and her beetles have appeared on Blue Peter, Springwatch Unsprung, Countryfile, Sky News, and featured in the BBC documentary, The Bug Couple.

Maya lives in Brighton with her husband, two sons and pet Rainbow Stag beetles. She spent her early career in the music industry running Setanta Records, an independent record label and managing bands, most notably The Divine Comedy. After leaving the music industry, she trained as an actor, dabbling in directing and producing as well as performing, before becoming a digital producer for Shakespeare’s Globe, the Royal Opera House, the National Theatre and Harry Potter West End.

Maya is one of the authors working with founder Lauren St John on the #Authors4Oceans initiative, campaigning to reduce single-use plastics.


Hello, my name is Maya

I live in a wonderful place called Brighton, in England, situated between the sea and the South Downs. It's beautiful, and so are the people. 

I love listening to music. Every moment of my life has a song, every day a soundtrack. If I'm writing, I'm usually listening to Philip Glass or Max Richter.

My real name is Maya Gabrielle but my pen name is M. G. Leonard. I created a pen name because my eldest son and I don’t share a surname, and I made him a promise that if my books got published I’d take his middle name as my pen surname. I think it is important to keep promises. When you talk to me, call me Maya. When talking about my writing, please call me M. G. Leonard. Thanks.

I was born in Torquay in Devon, and I wrote my first book at the age of twelve, about a witch whose spells backfired. I write every day, usually early in the morning, or on the train into London, or in the Dyke Park Cafe with a view of the sea.

My stories are for young people, or people who are young at heart, who embrace nature and its wild and crazy majesty. But right now, for me, it’s beetles that are blowing my mind. There isn’t anything as wild, crazy or majestic as the beetle.

And yes it's true that I used to be scared of insects, but now, I love them and have lots of pet beetles.


Beetle Boy was published in Spring 2016 by Chicken House in the UK, Scholastic in the US, Canada and Australia and has sold in thirty-seven territories, becoming a bestseller in the UK and the Netherlands, winning the 2017 Branford Boase Award for best debut children's novel and the Sheffield Children's Book Award 2017 for shorter novel as well as being longlisted for the Carnegie Medal.

Beetle Queen, the second part of the trilogy, was published in April 2017 in the UK to critical acclaim and was nominated for the Carnegie medal, published 10 April 2017

Battle of the Beetles, the third part of the trilogy, published 1 February 2018.

The Bug Hunters - a short story in the collection Make More Noise, published 1 February 2018.

The Beetle Collector's Handbook, a non-fiction companion to the trilogy, was published in the UK in September 2018 and was longlisted for the Blue Peter Book Prize.

Coming soon…

The Tale of a Toothbrush, M. G. Leonard’s debut picture book about plastic in the ocean, published early 2020 by Walker Books.

The Highland Falcon Thief, the first book in a new series called Adventures on Trains, will be published in spring 2020 by Macmillan.


Above, The Royal Ballet Company and legendary choreographer Peter Wright, after a performance of Giselle with Beetle Boy.

Right, Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy with Maya in 1996, shooting the cover image for the album Casanova. Photo: Kevin Westenberg

“IT’S FAB! Beetle Boy is full of musty professors, hideous villains, secret hideouts and heroic insects... I can’t wait for the next one!”
— Neil Hannon, The Divine Comedy