Lancaster backdrop for award-winning author’s new book

Lancaster author, Carys Davies.
Lancaster author, Carys Davies.
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An award-winning author’s hometown of Lancaster helped inspire her new short story collection.

In ‘The Redemption of Galen Pike’ – out this week – Carys Davies brings us an unlikely and heart-rending encounter in Lancaster between a middle-aged local alderman and Queen Victoria in a story called Jubilee.

The Coat, meanwhile, tells the tale of the mysterious disappearance of a blacksmith in Morecambe Bay.

A third story, Creed, is the drama of a woman who seeks help from her father’s enemy high in the Cumbrian fells.

This isn’t the first time Davies’ stories have involved local places and history.

She said: “My first collection, ‘Some New Ambush’, included stories set on St George’s Quay and at the County Lunatic Asylum, later known as the Moor Hospital.”

In the St George’s Quay story, Davies re-imagined the invention of a famous local product by a man desperate to win the heart of the woman he loves. She said: “Atkinson’s coffee and the King’s Arms hotel both get a mention in this one.”

Meanwhile, at the asylum, she brought us a strange encounter based on the real-life visit to the hospital by Charles Dickens and his friend Wilkie Collins.

Davies, who was born in Wales, lived for many years in the United States before moving to Lancaster in 1999.

And it’s these three places which often provide the backdrop and inspiration for her critically-acclaimed stories.

Davies’ second collection has already attracted literary attention.

‘The Redemption of Galen Pike’ won the Society of Authors’ Olive Cook Award, the Royal Society of Literature’s VS Pritchett Prize and a Northern Writers’ Award.

Earlier this year, the stories were also longlisted for The Sunday Times/EFG Award, which is the world’s richest prize for a short story.

‘The Redemption of Galen Pike’ is published by Salt, £9.99.