Former teacher and librarian Andrew Hurley is in his element talking to an audience surrounded by shelves of books.
But how life has changed for the 40-year-old author and former Kirkham librarian after his debut novel The Loney won international acclaim.
Andrew, a winner in the prestigious Costa Book Awards, returned to his home town of Preston this week as a celebrity, with fans queuing up for his talk and book signing event.
“It was a fantastic night,” said Emily Martin of Waterstones booksellers in Fishergate. “It was a sell-out with lots of people turning out to support a local writer.”
For Andrew it has been a whirlwind few months since his first book took the literary world by storm in November.
Bestseller Stephen King took the rare step of personally recommending The Loney to world audiences, describing it as “an amazing piece of fiction.”
It was a fantastic nightEmily Martin
The Costa First Novel accolade followed and, even though he was pipped to the post for the overall Costa Book prize last month, sales of his haunting story set in Lancashire have gone through the roof.
It has already been released in 11 countries and the film rights were sold before Christmas.
“It’s our number one seller at the moment,” said Emily, senior bookseller and events co-ordinator at Waterstones in Preston. “We’re getting through a lot of copies.
“Local authors tend to do quite well here, but that’s usually with non-fiction like local history. It’s quite rare for a fiction author to do really well, because people tend to stick with the big name authors they’ve heard of.
“But with Andrew having been backed by Stephen King and winning the Costa First Novel prize, he’s now a recognisable name.
“He’s a very good speaker and he read a few passages from his book. But it was a spoiler-free night, so he wouldn’t go any further with the storyline.
“I’ve got The Loney, but I’ve not read it yet. It’s right at the top of my reading pile and I can’t wait to get into it.”