Author tight-lipped over latest storyline after Palace honour

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Celebrated North Yorkshire- born author Kate Atkinson has described her delight at becoming an MBE for producing a series of best-selling and critically acclaimed books.

The award-winning novelist from York said the honour was a boost for the arts and a personal tribute to her efforts over more than 15 years as a published writer.

Speaking after the receiving the honour from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace yesterday, she added: “I’m delighted and honoured and very surprised to get the MBE. It’s a great tribute to the arts.

“I think it’s a really nice thing for writers to get awards.

“If you look at who’s here today, obviously people are getting awards for charity (work) which they should do, but there are very few people from the arts.

“I’m not criticising, I’m just saying it’s nice.”

The novelist, now 60, exploded on to the literary world in 1995 when her debut – Behind The Scenes At The Museum – won the Whitbread book of the year award, beating a host of famous names.

She went on to pen Human Croquet and Emotionally Weird.

Her most recent offerings feature the former detective Jackson Brodie.

Ms Atkinson said: “I didn’t write anything until I failed my PhD, which is a form of writing I suppose, then I started writing.

“So I was 30 before I wrote a word of fiction and then I was 35 before I was published and that was just magazine stories, so it took a long time.

“I think that’s quite good because you’ve lived a bit, so you’ve got something to write about.”

Her most famous character has proved popular and his exploits have been transferred to television in a BBC series called Case Histories, with the lead played by Jason Isaacs.

Ms Atkinson added: “I’m not as attracted to Jackson as other people.

“Women really love him and now he’s on TV they love Jason because Jason is incredibly attractive – so Jason’s helped Jackson’s profile no end. I think of him as a woman inside, because he’s me with male accoutrements.”

Atkinson was born in York and lived in Whitby for many years. She now lives in Edinburgh.

The writer said she is now halfway through a new work, a historical drama called Life After Life, but was remaining tight-lipped about the plot yesterday.