Way back in November 2017 Emma Whitehall read from her work in progress at Pure Fiction, a regularish evening event dedicated to fiction I’d started the previous year.

November 2017’s gig was held upstairs in The George pub, just off Newcastle’s infamous drinking hub, The Bigg Market. Emma’s work in progress blossomed into her debut novel Clockwork Magpies, a Northern Steampunk Adventure. It was published last month by Northodox Press.

Emma works in Whitley Bay’s effortlessly cool independent bookshop The Bound and that’s where I pre-ordered my signed copy of the novel.

I’ve followed Emma’s literary progress for almost a decade. I first saw her perform poetry on Tyneside’s spoken word circuit. I loved the way she moved as she performed her poems.

I used to see Emma from time to time when she worked in Newcastle’s branch of Waterstones. I had wondered where she gone to then she popped up at The Bound when it opened last summer.

Emma the masked bookseller

I loved reading Clockwork Magpies. I didn’t want this YA steam punk novel to end. Aged 52, I’m not Emma’s target audience but I fell for her characters Ida, Clem and Edith and could visualize Loxport, the city they inhabit. The novel has secrets, sorrow, scheming and scones. I hope there’s a sequel soon.

It’s four and a half years since Emma read at Pure Fiction and reckons that what she read “was probably a poem called The Scientist, about one of my main characters…”

There are countless writers like Emma, who work by day and in their spare time concentrate on writing. It’s so hard to get published and that’s why I wanted to blog my praise and admiration for Emma. She’s created Loxport and has been lucky in her choice of publisher. Northodox Press describes itself as “the home of Northern voices” and that’s a good fit for Emma’s Northen novel.

I recommend you buy Clockwork Magpies, preferably from The Bound. That way you’re supporting Emma, a small but perfectly formed publishing house and an independent, award-winning bookshop.