Award-winning author Dorothy Koomson makes no secret of her fondness of Leeds. An alumna and Honorary Fellow of Leeds Trinity, Dorothy studied Psychology and Public Media from 1990-1993, before taking on the role as Vice-President of the Students' Union. Whilst her pursuits as a writer has seen her move to London and then Brighton, Dorothy has always celebrated her Yorkshire roots through storytelling. Below, Dorothy offers a glimpse into how she captured the city close to her heart.
When I write a book, I try to infuse it with a sense of place, try to make that place real for people who haven't been there and probably never will go there. My first three books – The Cupid Effect, The Chocolate Run and My Best Friend's Girl are all set in Leeds and I hope that I have managed to capture the uniqueness of the city with my writing.
I'm a Londoner who loves her home city, so why did I choose to set those novels in Leeds? Because I feel like I grew up for the second time there and I wanted to honour that in some way. I completed my first degree at Trinity and All Saints – now Leeds Trinity University – and then lived there for two years after I finished my degree, so it's a place that I'll always hold close to my heart.
When I wrote the first three books, I wrote about the city that I remembered with its adorable quirks. Yes, it had changed physically in the time between leaving and committing it to paper, but I don't think its heart and its life-blood of people changed that much.
My first three books were published well over a decade ago, and I haven't set the bulk of a story in Leeds since, but for me, the city has become a bit like a Stan Lee from the Marvel movies. Stan Lee helped to create a lot of the Marvel comics and their equally successful movies, as a result, he made a cameo appearance in each of the movies until his death recently. It's always a joy to see Stan Lee for those brief seconds in the movie and you're almost always waiting for him to appear.
It's always a thrill to be able to find a way to add Leeds into whichever novel I'm writing. Sometimes it's just a sentence, other times it's several scenes. In my latest book, Tell Me Your Secret, the 'Stan Lee/Marvel' moment manages to mention one of Leeds' most iconic buildings where I, like the main character, worked for a short time and being able to do that was like the icing on a rather marvel-lous cake.
Tell Me Your Secret by Dorothy Koomson was published by Headline on 27 June.
Dorothy will be delivering 'Telling Secrets', a Trinity Talk at Leeds Trinity University about her career as a writer on Thursday 11 July. Find out more on our Events Page.