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Miners' strike inspires journalist's book 30 years on

A journalist-turned-author who covered the miners’ strike for a regional daily has drawn on her experiences to pen her latest book.

Barbara Henderson reported on the bitter dispute as a reporter on the Shields Gazette 30 years ago before going on to work for The Journal, Newcastle and BBC North.

Now, writing under her nom-de-plume Bea Davenport, she has written a novel set against the backdrop of the divisive stoppage.

This Little Piggy begins in the summer of 1984 when the nationwide dispute was at its height.

Recalled Bea:  “It was an area with quite a lot of strike activity.  I remember we had a picket duty rota where we were sent down to cover it which, I have to say, was not an enjoyable experience.

“I do remember the period well but when I came to write the book I had to make sure I had my facts right about other parts of the 1980s.”

The book tells of the sense of unease on the troubled Sweetmeadows estate where the residents are in shock after the suspicious death of a baby and tension is growing due to the strike.

Bea has split her time over the last four years between writing children’s books and novels and journalism at Newcastle and Northumbria universities.

In This Little Piggy, published this week by Legend Press, she uses a journalist as one of her main characters.

Clare Jackson is put on the story as police bungle the inquiry and struggle to contain mounting violence. She soon finds her own life in jeopardy.

“I felt that a journalist was quite a good character to be able to tell the whole story and, of course, it’s a subject I know well,” added Bea.

She is hoping it will enjoy similar success to her debut novel, In Too Deep, which reached number three in the bestseller charts.

“Legend Press is only a small publisher so I wasn’t expecting too much but it did surprisingly well. There was one point when it was just behind J K Rowling in the charts which was just fantastic,” said Bea.