A debut novelist has mined childhood memories of the North East for her first book.
Amy Bird, 30, who lived in Sunderland for nine years whilst her mother, Anne Wright, was vice chancellor of Sunderland University, was a pupil at Newcastle’s Central High School and still has a strong affection for the region.
And as she wrote her debut novel – a psychological thriller called Yours Is Mine – she set part of the book in Northumberland’s Kielder Forest, which she used to visit as a child.
She said: “I have many fond childhood memories of Kielder, I remember the husky racing with particular excitement, and I once took a friend water-skiing over the reservoir there.
“It can be a very isolated place where you can imagine sinister and unusual happenings. So when the novel builds up to thriller mode, Kielder gives it a lot of atmosphere.
“At the opening of Yours is Mine, the central character, Kate, is mourning the loss of her father.
“In her grief, she agrees to an identity exchange, apparently as part of a PhD study, in which another girl moves to Kielder to masquerade as her.”
Yours is Mine is the first novel of a three-book deal that Amy has landed with Harlequin, under their new digital imprint Carina UK.
Now living in London, Amy said that her time in the North East set her on the road to getting a publishing deal.
She said: “There is so much creativity in the North East and growing up there has definitely played a huge part in my writing this novel.
“It is the place where I was first able to hone my writing skills, at Central High School where I had some wonderful teachers, who really encouraged me to stretch intellectually, explore new ideas and pursue my passions.”
Growing up, Amy also attended the Live Theatre youth group, then called Standfast, where her first play workshopped when she was just 14 years old.
She said: “I loved attending the Live Theatre, it allowed us to experiment with acting as well as writing and when I saw my first play performed it was very inspiring. In fact, I still write plays and I am working on a new project at the moment.”
Amy now lives in London, where as well as writing she practices as a solicitor in the City, working four days a week to spend more time on her writing.
She said: “I was delighted to get the deal – after investing in my writing by undertaking a creative writing MA part-time, it’s brilliant to know that my story will be reaching readers’ Kindles very soon.
“I hope the book will resonate with readers – and in particular those who know Kielder and the North East.”
The novel is published by Carina UK, a new digital imprint of Harlequin UK, on July 18, and is available to pre-order through Amazon, Kobo and iTunes/ iBooks.
Anyone who would like more information can visit www.carinauk.com/yours-is-mine