Warkworth writer wins award with debut novel inspired by the Northumberland coast

A Warkworth author has won a prestigious crime writing award with her first novel.

Thursday, 14th May 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Sunday, 17th May 2020, 10:20 am

Pru Heathcote’s book, ‘Don’t Leave’, was described by judges of the Lindisfarne Prize for Crime Fiction as ‘gripping’ and ‘atmospheric’ ‘with a killer sting in the tail’.

In winning the award sponsored by Northumberland best-selling author L (Louise) J Ross in association with Newcastle Noir Crime Writing Festival, Pru receives £2,500 and free membership to relevant industry associations.

The contest, which attracted more than 500 entries, was aimed at writers making their crime fiction debut.

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Pru Heathcote

Organisers wanted North East writers or people who know the region to feature the area within their work.

‘Don’t Leave’ is a psychological thriller with a supernatural element set in a location inspired by The Old Bathing House on the Northumberland coast at Howick.

“I only started writing the book at start of Covid-19 lockdown and just managed to get the entry in by the end of March deadline,” said Pru.

Louise Ross was impressed by the way Pru had ‘brought all the strands together’ in combining the crime and supernatural elements.

“It’s not easy to meld such different concepts into the story,” she said. “It showed a raw natural talent.”

“There is a great twist in the tail; with shades of Daphne DuMaurier,” festival director and fellow judge Dr Jacky Collins added. “I can recall feeling extremely spooked as I read it and saying to myself ‘no, don’t go there...!’

Hertfordshire-born Pru worked as a local newspaper reporter before moving on to teenage and women’s magazines.

She moved to the North East nearly 40 years ago and continued to write for magazines whilst raising three children, and later ran several adult education courses including creative writing.

Although now retired, Pru, has continued to write short stories for magazines, as well as plays. In 2014 she was commissioned to write a biography of social campaigner and activist Dorothy Robson.

TV scriptwriter Marrisse Whittaker, from Lesbury, was also shortlisted for the award.

Last year’s inaugural award was won by Cressida Downing, with her work, The Roll Bearer’s Daughter, which is set on Holy Island at the turn of the 15th century.

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