Stephen King gives ex-librarian’s debut novel the thumbs up

Author Stephen King
Author Stephen King
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A librarian who switched from looking after books to writing them is “living the dream” after his debut novel was shortlisted for a top literary award.

Andrew Michael Hurley gave up his job at Kirkham library to write and, following a whirlwind 12 months as a full-time author, he is a contender atthe Costa Book Awards.

Andrew Hurley

Andrew Hurley

“To be fair it’s taken me a long time to become an overnight success,” joked Preston-born Andrew, whose haunting story The Loney is causing a real stir in the publishing world.

Bestseller Stephen King has described it as “an amazing piece of fiction”.

It has been released in 11 countries – the Dutch version is out this week – and the film rights have now been sold.

Yet Andrew remains grounded as he works on his follow-up novel and waits for the judges of the 2015 Costa Book Awards to announce their verdict in the New Year.

But for Stephen King himself to read it, let alone endorse it in the way he did, has really been the icing on the cake

Andrew Michael Hurley

“It is very exciting,” he said. “A massive and total surprise.

“The novel has done very well over the past 12 months, much better than I ever anticipated.

“It has had some fantastic reviews in the national papers.

“But for Stephen King himself to read it, let alone endorse it in the way he did, has really been the icing on the cake.

“I grew up reading his novels and, I suppose, he has been an influence on the way I write, just as he has a lot of other writers.”

The Loney, which is set in the Lancashire countryside between the rivers Lune and Wyre, is one of five books nominated in the Costa First Novels category.

The other four, he insists, are bound to provide tough competition.

“Some fantastic novels have won that over the years, so just to be nominated is a lovely bonus for me,” he said.

“It might seem like I’m a new author, but I’ve been writing a long time.

“I’ve written short stories from being very young, but I’ve only been taking it seriously for about 10 or 12 years and it was only four or five years ago that I decided to really try and write a novel.”

Andrew, who lives in Fulwood and was educated at Our Ladies RC High School, spent five years as a librarian in Kirkham.

But his background is largely in teaching, which he still returns to sporadically when he feels the need.

The Loney was first published 13 months ago by Tartarus Press in Yorkshire, which printed just 300 hardback copies.

But it was picked up by the world-famous John Murray publishing house and, since the end of August, has been taking the literary world by storm.

Andrew’s second novel, currently “about halfway through,” will be set in the rolling countryside of the Trough of Bowland in the Ribble Valley.