Play Hard

4 North East Authors You’ll Want to Have on Your Radar

Written by Rosie Harrison
Published 24.04.2021

Who? Katherine Graham

What? Salt Sisters

Why? If you’re a lover of crime books and the North East, then this is the book for you. Salt Sisters follows an ex-North East local, Izzy, who has moved abroad to start a new life far from the troubles of her childhood. However, Izzy is soon forced to return home to Seahouses following news of the death of her sister, with whom she used to be very close.

In short, Katherine Graham’s debut novel is excellent. You can feel the grief, the distress, the determination and the grit of her characters; you can smell the sea and hear the seagulls. If you’re anything like us, you’ll become obsessed with turning the pages just to keep unravelling the mystery that unfolds. And, as you’re swept along in the descriptions of the North East, you’ll remember just why you love it as much as Izzy does.

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Who? Eliza Clark

What? Boy Parts

Why? Narcissistic, beautiful, slightly unhinged and borderline sadistic is how we’d describe the heroine of Geordie lass Eliza Clark’s debut novel, Boy Parts. After all, in a bid to make her way as an (ever so slightly) unconventional photographer, Irina picks up mediocre-looking men in ordinary places (think Tesco), and snaps them in compromising positions.

The Guardian has described the novel as ‘a bit American Psycho, if Patrick Bateman were a consistently underestimated pretty girl’. And we’d have to agree. In fact, we’re pretty sure that’s why we love it. An ambitious, unsettling novel that deals with some pretty thorny issues and leaves us both cackling and feeling deeply unsettled at the same time, Boy Parts is an incredibly addictive read.

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Who? Dan Jackson

What? The Northumbrians

Why? A bit of a curveball from us crime lovers, but following a recommendation, we gave The Northumbrians a try. Born and bred up here, Dan Jackson explores the legacy of the North East in his work – looking at the name the region has built for itself and exploring both the positive and negative stereotypes it has accumulated.

We loved this book – perhaps mainly because it helped us understand how some of the cultures we have come to know and love about the region have come about. Be it a tendency towards heavy drinking or our refusal to shy away from hard work, our love of local history or our innate desire to celebrate each other and build loyal ties, Jackson touches on it all.

We all know the North East is a unique place with an exceptional history and future. This book simply brings it all together.

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Who? LJ Ross

What? Holy Island

Why? We know, we know – no round-up of local authors would be truly complete if we didn’t include the woman, the myth, the legend that is LJ Ross. After all, she is an international bestselling author, with Holy Island – the first in her DCI Ryan series – a UK #1 bestseller.

Our interest in Ross’ books began because she has this fantastic tendency to base all of her stories around well-known local landmarks. So this novel is, as you’d expect, set on Holy Island. Here we follow the journey of beaten-down and tired detective, DCI Ryan, who is taking some time away from working in murder squad – that is, until his peace is disturbed when the body of a young woman is discovered on Lindisfarne Priory. Ryan soon partners with Dr Anna Taylor to solve the mystery – unfurling a burgeoning romance, uncovering confusing and disturbing Pagan rituals and experiencing dangerous twists and turns in the process.

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