I'm so proud to tell you that my debut - The Murder Wall - has been chosen as one of the Read Regional titles this year. For those who don't know, Read Regional is a promotional project set up and managed by New Writing North and funded by Arts Council England. It seeks to connect local authors and poets to readers through events at libraries, festivals and bookshops right across the north of England.
The writers selected this year are very diverse - eight novelists and five poets - but we have one thing in common: we were all readers first. So taking part in Read Regional is a wonderful opportunity to meet local people who are as passionate about reading as we are.
I live and work in Northumberland but my books are set right across the north east. I'm a firm believer that location is as important as any character in a book. A shared sense of place can add so much to the reading experience - and it seems others agree with me...
I recently asked my followers on Twitter why they like to read local books by local authors and got a huge response. @northernjon said: with a mix of truth and fantasy it provides a different perspective on a familiar landscape. @GarrySnaith said: because you know the locations it gives a better feel for the characters and the stories. I feel I can walk in their footsteps, and it makes for a much more enjoyable read. @Suzi187, an avid reader of crime fiction said: it's easier to picture and you can concentrate on the story.
A while ago, local journalist, David Whetstone, commented that he liked the fact I was not afraid to use real place names. He said, 'You can follow the route taken by her (my) heroine, DCI Kate Daniels, as she drives around Tyneside and the Tyne Valley. The pizzeria at the end of my street even gets a mention, as does the deli not far away.' @elizashworth - herself an author of historical fiction - summed it up perfectly: It's the little thrill of familiarity. Nuff said.
I jumped at the chance to take part in Read Regional which is launched today. If you wish to follow the progress of the project, check out www.readregional.com or www.newwritingnorth.com or follow the #readregional hashtag on Twitter to see which writers are taking part and where they are appearing. My own events are spread right across the north of England. They are also listed on my events page and will be updated regularly. Congratulations to all taking part!