Hinton worked in advertising for two years, then taught English for nine years. He then worked as a professional actor and did some part-time teaching before deciding to concentrate on writing. He has written at least seventeen novels from Collision Course (1976) to 2 Die 4 (2009) including the Buddy trilogy for teenagers and the Beaver Towers stories for younger children. His novel The Finders won the Federation of Children's Book Groups Award, and Collision Course won the Dutch Silver Pen Award. Out of the Darkness won the Lancashire Book Award and the Stockport Book Award. His novel Time Bomb, set in 1949 in the area he grew up, won the 2006 Rotherham Book Award. He has adapted some of his novels for the screen, notably Buddy which was made into a BBC TV series, and Buddy's Song which was made into a feature film. Both films starred Roger Daltrey as Buddy's dad. He has also written a number of original scripts for TV and the theatre.
Hinton's work is used widely in schools, and Buddy has been one of the best selling novels for teenagers in the last twenty five years. Teachers particularly appreciate his novels because they appeal to a wide range of pupil ability and are even enjoyed by teenage boys who don't usually like reading.
Hinton's style is deceptively simple, disguising the craft which has gone into creating such complex and interesting characters and plots written in seemingly effortless, accessible and direct prose.