A YORK author's debut novel has made it onto the Man Booker 2017 shortlist.

Former Fulford School pupil Fiona Mozley, 29, is on the shortlist with Elmet, described as "a hugely potent story about aspects of hidden England,” that “builds to a terrifying climax” by the judges.

Set in the copses of Yorkshire, it follows a family that the Man Booker judges said “are at the margins of ‘civilised’ English life”.

The children, Daniel and Cathy, do not go to school, their father gets into fights, they stay far away from everyone else in the village, living in a house in the woods that the three of them built together.

They just want to be left in peace, but when trouble arrives on their doorstep in the form of the local landowner hell-bent on revenge, their idyllic life is irrevocably changed.

Elmet is the only British debut on this year’s shortlist.

Since publication, the novel has been called “this year's David among the predictable Goliaths on the Booker list.” (Evening Standard); an “explosion of a book, exquisite and unforgettable” (Economist) with comparisons made to “Hansel and Gretel meets The Godfather” (Sunday Times) and “At its best, it reminds you of Cormac McCarthy's The Road” (Metro).

Judge Lila Azam Zanganeh added: “Here’s a writer creating a very singular tale in a style that already, at 29, is completely distinctive – I was blown away by many of the pages…A very harrowing story that is completely her own – you can hear her voice. She has a very textured and distinctive voice."

Mozley, who was born in Hackney but grew up in York, began writing Elmet on a train from York to London.

She had been back home visiting her family for the weekend and was returning very early on a Monday morning to go straight to work.

The landscape of her native Yorkshire – of “Elmet” – whizzed past the window, as it had countless times before, with its farmhouses and fields and little hills and lines of tall trees. It was on that train journey that Fiona wrote the first chapter.

The rest fell into place after that. Living in London, Fiona missed the landscape of home and so moved back to Yorkshire, where she would finish the novel. 

She said: "The influences I turned to when building the narrative were not entirely local, although the dialect is unmistakably rooted in this part of Yorkshire.

"The Western, literary and cinematic, was one of my genres of reference.

"It is a genre concerned with the relations between land and people. It is a genre of frontiers, frontiersmen and the construction of ‘home’; of wilderness and its enclosure.

"In the traditional American Western, of course, these issues are informed by the particular politics of that region and era; of the displacement and murder of indigenous peoples and the plunder of natural resources.

"Elmet takes place on a much smaller scale, and in a very different time and place, inflected by its own concerns.

"However, it was my hope that the novel would interrogate these notions of ownership and present a family encountering a frontier of their own.”

Fiona studied at Cambridge before moving to Buenos Aires for a year.

After briefly working at a literary agency in London, she moved back to York to complete a PhD in Medieval Studies and works part time at The Little Apple Bookshop in High Petergate.

Elmet by Fiona Mozley was published by JM Originals on August 10 2017, a £10.99 trade paperback original.