Fiction: THE COAL BOAT, by Sam Kirk. Available on Amazon. £7.99. Softback.

THE author is a granddaughter of coal miners who grew up in Morpeth and, while living there, she became fascinated by the colliery rows and was deeply affected by family tales of personal frustration and hardship, told with customary Geordie humour and a noticeable absence of self-pity.

This debut, coming-of-age novel is divided between locations – the coal mining community in the north-east of England and 1930s bohemian society in London – as the main character, Nancy, fights for her freedom from family, traditions and her past.