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Stansted author and former Newport schoolgirl Kate Johnson is up for a Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award

An award-winning author from Stansted has been shortlisted for another accolade.

Kate Johnson is one of six finalists in the Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller category in the Romantic Novel Awards, which are being staged online on Monday (March 8), presented by Gavin and Stacey and EastEnders actor Larry Lamb.

In her novel Death Comes To Cornwall, protagonist Molly wants to open her own café on the Cornish coast and avoid her ex, who has just arrived back in the village. Her life is thrown into turmoil when she discovers a body on the cliffside.

Kate Johnson (44604795)
Kate Johnson (44604795)

Molly is keen to leave the mystery to the police, but when she finds herself their top suspect, she has no choice but to catch the killer herself – before it is too late.

“It starts off as a rom-com and then a dead body turns up,” said Kate, 38.

“This is the fourth time I’ve been shortlisted. It really is nice every time. It’s quite a validation for the book. I’m beyond delighted.

“Writing romantic mysteries is a new genre for me and one I didn’t expect to be writing, which makes it extra special.”

In 2017, Kate won the the fantasy/paranormal category at the Romantic Novel Awards for her book Max Seventeen.

To date she has written 17 novels. When she was starting out, she took on a few jobs to make ends meet, such as working on check-in at Stansted Airport and at the Allinson flour mill in Bishop’s Stortford, but now she is a full-time author.

“I don’t remember not making up stories – just staring out of the window and daydreaming,” she said.

Numerous family holidays to Cornwall provided Kate with ample inspiration and she was intrigued by a contrast she saw between a traditional Cornish fishing village and a bustling film set.

“Many years ago I went on holiday to Port Isaac, and there was a film crew hanging around, making some show with that guy [Martin Clunes] from Men Behaving Badly,” she said.

“I’m not sure anyone predicted the success of Doc Martin, but I’ve seen it filmed plenty of times over the years and even found myself staying in one of the cottages used for filming. So when I decided to write a book set in a Cornish fishing village, there was only one place it could be – and what could be more intriguing than a film set clashing with the locals?

“So I wrote the book that became Death Comes to Cornwall, and guess where I was when I got the offer of publication? In the pub in Port Isaac!”

Originally from Leeds, Kate moved to Stansted when she was two after her dad, Keith, got a job in London working in the brewery industry. “That was only supposed to be for two years, but that was in 1984 and we haven’t left yet,” she said.

She lives with her parents, Keith and Barbara, and their three cats, Spike, Daisy and Jemima, in St John’s Road. Keith used to run the bar at the village carnival and Barbara worked as a teaching assistant at Bentfield Primary School before moving on to Newport Free Grammar School – now Joyce Frankland Academy – where Kate studied.

Since its inception in 1960, the Romantic Novel Awards have promoted excellence in romantic fiction. Romantic Novelists’ Asscociation chairwoman Imogen Howson said: “This year’s shortlists showcase yet again the wonderful variety of romantic fiction, with books from publishers large and small, from some authors who are household names and others who may well be the next big thing.

"In difficult times, sales of romantic fiction rise, and these books, with all their humour, drama, excitement, and romance, remind us exactly why."

Kate's book Death Comes to Cornwall, published by Dash Digital, Orion, is available from Amazon and via the GoodReads website at www.goodreads.com/book/show/49817119-death-comes-to-cornwall.

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