A Lancaster University graduate has fulfilled the ambition of a lifetime after seeing her first novel in print.
Alex Morgan has written Tandem, a novel set in Scotland in a place inspired by her own childhood.
It tells the story of Paula, who abandons her London life and runs away in the hope of escaping a painful loss – but finds herself involved in the tangled world of Sanders, a complicated 12-year-old who lives in the seaside village.
It’s a quirky tale of love and friendship, which shows that life can never be simply black and white – with the attempted kidnapping of a celebrity penguin thrown in for good measure.
Alex, who is married to Trevor and has two daughters and a granddaughter, is originally from Edinburgh, but moved along the Scottish coast to North Berwick at the age of 10.
Her dream has always been to write a book. An avid reader, she loves authors as diverse as Jane Austen and Hilary Mantel.
After eight years of trying, Tandem has finally been published after she won an international competition run by publisher Hookline.
Alex said: “I never expected to win the Hookline competition and I cried when I heard.
“The competition is unique in that the winner is chosen by readers’ groups and that makes it particularly special. My book was selected for publication by real readers.”
Alex was only young when she first dreamed of being a writer .
She said: “When I was in the first year of primary school, my teacher, Mrs Brown, told my mother I was going to be a writer.
“The idea stuck and, apart from a short time thinking I might like to be a fashion designer, it was all I ever wanted to do.
“I can remember sitting at the dining table in our flat, aged about eight, writing stories with a set of coloured biros.
“I had a Ladybird Book about Florence Nightingale so she was the heroine of everything I wrote.
“I just wanted to be a novelist – to tell stories and share them with others. For years, though, I believed I didn’t have the imagination to write novels – but at the same time, it was all I wanted to do.
“It was very dispiriting, so I pushed the idea of writing fiction to the back of my mind and got on with a career in journalism.”
Alex first attempted to write a novel 16 years ago.
“My first two manuscripts were awful but they taught me a lot – as did studying for a Creative Writing MA at Lancaster University,” she said.
“I firmly believe the only way to learn to write a novel is to write one, realise it’s dreadful, throw it away and start again.”
Alex has had two parallel careers, spending 30 years as a journalist including roles ranging from running the features desk of a daily paper to sports sub-editing on the Scottish edition of the Sunday Times.
For the past eight years, she has also worked for the National Trust at Wordsworth House and Garden in Cockermouth, the poet William Wordsworth’s childhood home, where she is now Interpretation and Communications Manager.
*Tandem is available from all good bookshops and from Amazon.co.uk and Waterstones.com