Andrew Michael Hurley, an MA Creative Writing graduate from MMU, has won the Costa First Novel Award 2015 for The Loney and has been shortlisted for the Costa Book of the Year Award. He speaks to Nick Higham about his inspiration for the novel in a BBC interview.
Hurley’s debut novel captures the desolate surroundings of the Lancashire coastline in a story of 70s remembrance. The narrator explores his lost teenage years during a catholic pilgrimage.
Hurley explains in the interview “landscape is one of the starting points of the novel”, and indeed the novel was inspired by Hurley’s own experience of Morcambe bay in Lancashire. He explains how the place is “atmospheric, desolate and lonely” but with a “menace”. He remembers tales of ships being lost and people drowning in the harsh waters. The surroundings give a “fresh” narrative space for this novel’s exploration of timelessness, terror, and religion.
The story draws from the longstanding tradition of the Gothic. Hurley inflicts his text with an unseen and inescapable horror that never truly manifests but lurks carefully beneath each sentence: “terror exists in your imagination” he explains.
Hurley himself grew up as Catholic. He describes his appreciation for religion and the comfort it brings, but how also “religion is used as an excuse and permission to commit the worst atrocities”. His novel consequently attempts to “explore the area between the two”.
The Loney has been described as “modern classic” by Sunday Telegraph and Hurley has even been compared to the likes of Walpole, Du Maurier, Maturin and Jackson by The Guardian. Hurley’s next novel will be set in an equally “fresh” and desolate surrounding: on the Lancashire moorland.
The winner of the Costa Book of the Year 2015 will be announced later today.
You can buy The Loney on Amazon.
This was also published on the MMU website.