In recent weeks, we’ve been taking a closer look at some of the publications that are on sale at Dronfield Hall Barn in a series of “meet the author” features. 

“Pottery Cottage” by award winning author Alan Hurndall has been particular popular with visitors to the Barn. Alan is a Dronfield based semi-retired journalist, who now writes non-fiction books. His career started as a runner in Fleet Street and took him to local, regional and national newspapers, and into TV as a producer and director in news, documentary and sport. Pottery Cottage is an horrific true story about the slaughter of a family which took place in the Peak District in January 1977, and the mistakes the police made that allowed it to happen.

Alan recently took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about himself and his work.

Where did the idea book originate from, and who, or what, were your influences?

After writing my first book, The Invisible Girl, I was asked by Harper Collins to come up with some ideas for more factual books. I worked on the Pottery Cottage story as a young reporter on the Sheffield Star. I tried to secretly model my style on Truman Capote’s famous ‘faction’ work “In Cold Blood” and I was thrilled that one reviewer on Amazon independently made that very point. I am currently working on another local true crime story from the sixties but research has been delayed by Covid.

What are you currently reading at the moment?

For Father’s Day, my daughter bought me Michael Lewis’s book “The Premonition”, about how society made mistakes in failing to prepare for a pandemic. It’s a fascinating true story. I wish I could have written something like that!

When I’m not reading, I’m kept busy by family commitments with nine grandchildren, and enjoy watching sport, being a season ticket holder at Sheffield Wednesday. During various lockdowns I seemed to watch a lot of television, particularly crime based series. We are in the golden age of drama from traditional terrestrial TV and streaming services such as Netflix.

And finally, what do you like about the Barn, and why is it a good place to sell your book?

The Barn is a beautiful place to relax for a coffee and a bite to eat. The people who worked on the restoration and the grounds should be congratulated, they’ve created a real asset to the town. Visitors to the Barn have been very supportive of my book. Customers take pride in the history of their locality and I hope that my work sets the record straight on an important if tragic event.

You can find “Pottery Cottage” on your next visit to the Barn, with the book priced at £8.99. Alternatively, it is available for order from Amazon by clicking here.