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Story developing nicely in the North.

Byline: By David Whetstone

Theachievements of the North-East's writers and publishers are to be celebrated on a new website, as David Whetstone reports.

THE region's lively literary scene will be put in the international spotlight from tomorrow with the launch of a new website. Readers, writers, publishers and anyone with a passing interest in fine words can log on to www.literaturenortheast.co.uk.

The site will have a monthly list of literary events in the region and an A-Z of published North-East writers.

John Adair, the website's contents manager, said yesterday that he had been surprised by how much was going on in the region.

"The first month contains 30-odd events with a wide variety of stuff every week. The Durham Literature Festival is on at the moment, which is boosting the numbers, but there is an enormous amount of stuff in addition to that."

He said the 70 writers currently included in the A-Z all live and work in the region. Some have their roots here while others have moved here from other parts of the country.

"They are professional writers and aspiring professional writers. Everyone on there is published by a reputable publishing house. They are a mixture of internationally known writers, such as Pat Barker and David Almond, and others published by small presses.

"There are a lot of very small but very reputable publishers in the North-East. You don't have to be big to be reputable."

He said the website steers away from vanity publishers who charge writers a fee before publication.

The website launch comes at a time when the profile of North-East writers is rising. Novels by Julia Darling, from Newcastle, and John Murray, from Brampton, were included on the Booker Prize longlist.

The film rights to Skellig, by Northumberland writer David Almond, have been sold to a Hollywood production company while his latest novel, The Fire-Eaters, is shortlisted for the prestigious Nestle Smarties Book Prize.

Sean O'Brien, from Forest Hall, has written a play, Keepers Of The Flame, to be premiered at Live Theatre, Newcastle, by the RSC.

The website is supported by two organisations, Independent Northern Publishers, which represents a clutch of publishing houses, and New Writing North, the literary support agency whose awards are among the most lucrative in the country.

Writer Fadia Faqir, a British-Jordanian writer and lecturer at the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Durham University, said: "I feel it's really difficult to network with other writers and established cultural organisations in the North-East.

"At this stage in my career I'm wanting to become a full-time writer which is why I think it's essential that writers have the appropriate networking groups to discuss writing ideas. As a writer I need to be challenged and people learn so much from each other rather than inventing the wheel in isolation."

The website has already won approval from outside the region. Novelist and critic DJ Taylor, one of the Booker Prize judges this year, said: "At a time when writing from beyond the confines of the M25 is adding a significant flavour to the 57 varieties of the British novel, this initiative should do wonders in helping to raise awareness of the literary talent that currently flourishes in the North-East."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 14, 2003
Words:542
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