Preston author Andrew Michael Hurley scoops Costa prize
A Gothic horror story set in "menacing" Morecambe Bay has won a Preston author a national award for his debut novel.
Former librarian Andrew Michael Hurley's book The Loney beat four titles to win the Costa First Novel Award.
Hailed as "an amazing piece of fiction" by horror writer Stephen King, the book's first print run was just 300 copies.
Mr Hurley, 40, said Morecambe Bay was "beguiling" and "full of menace".
He added: "I spent a lot of time there and the landscape really blew me away. There's a real sense of menace with the sand flats and the mud.
"I thought I've got to write about this place."
'Long time coming'
The novel, which the judges described as "as close to the perfect first novel as you can get", now goes forward for the overall Costa Book of the Year prize at an awards ceremony in three weeks' time.
Speaking to BBC Radio Lancashire about his success, Mr Hurley, who lives in Fulwood and has been a full-time writer for 12 months, said: "I found out a couple of weeks ago and had to keep it under my hat over Christmas and new year.
"It's amazing. It's been a good surprise in what has been a surreal 12 months.
"It seems to a lot of people that it has been an overnight success, but I have been writing for a long, long time; about 10-15 years, so it's been a long time coming."
Mr Hurley, who collected £5,000 prize money with the award, is currently working on his second novel which is also to be set in Lancashire.
Costa Book Awards winners
- Costa First Novel Award: The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
- Costa Novel Award: A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
- Costa Biography Award: The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt; The Lost Hero of Science by Andrea Wulf
- Costa Poetry Award: 40 Sonnets by Don Paterson
- Costa Children's Book Award: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge