A north Northumberland woman, who works full-time but writes novels in her spare time, is heading to London later this month for the finals of a prestigious literary award.
Wooler resident Barbara Morris’ first novel, One Missed Step, is one of three fiction finalists in the People’s Book Prize, founded by Dame Beryl Bainbridge and hosted by Frederick Forsyth, this summer.
And there’s more to come with her second novel already written, a third underway while a screenplay of One Missed Step, which is set in Skye and Canada, won a Rising Star Award for Screenplay at the Canada International Film Festival in 2013.
Barbara, who works as an exams manager at Berwick Academy, said that being in the running for the award, which is voted for by the public, is ‘as thrilling to me as it is unexpected’.
She grew up in Langholm in the Scottish Borders, but has lived in Northumberland since 1996 and both her children attended the Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick.
“Basically, I’ve been interested in writing since I was at school and used to write stories and plays to amuse myself,” said Barbara.
“After college, I started to look at screenplays, because I assumed they would get to the end product quicker and attempted a few of those in my twenties. I did submit a couple unsuccessfully and got some feedback.
“However, by this time I had a family and did no real writing to speak of for a few years. About five years ago, I picked up an old screenplay I’d played around with and started to adapt it into a novel.”
One Missed Step was finished in February 2012 and six months later, Barbara had a contract and her debut novel was published in March 2013.
She then attended library and book-group nights, did some signings and ‘had the really great privilege’ of speaking at the Skye Book Festival.
Barbara then decided to adapt it back into the screenplay format, as that was where it had started.