A LONDON based author shortlisted for a top literary award was guest of honour at a Stourbridge book club meeting.

Rowena Macdonald, who grew up in Stourbridge, was invited to talk about her debut novel The Threat Level Remains Severe at a book club hosted by family friend Susan Cooper at her home in the Old Quarter.

The 43-year-old House of Commons administrator, whose debut fiction novel made it onto the 2017 Guardian Not the Booker prize shortlist, was asked to attend the informal book club gathering to chat about the critically-acclaimed read which she describes as a "thriller with comedy elements".

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Rowena Macdonald, pictured right, with book club host Susan Cooper, left. Pic by Phil Loach

Rowena, a former journalist who now works for the International Development Committee, took inspiration from her day job to write the novel - described by a Guardian reviewer as "a funny and refreshingly strange political novel which takes an acid look at life in Westminster" - which takes its title from screens at the Houses of Parliament that remind MPs and their assistants of the current UK terror threat level.

Published by The Aardvark Bureau which specialises in publishing an eclectic selection of top writing - the book follows House of Commons secretary Grace Ambrose who has been counting the tea breaks in the same dull job for a decade but whose monotony is broken when she collides with economics specialist Brett Beamish who is on a mission to shake-up the dusty back rooms of power.

Rowena, who used to live in Beale Street, said: "A lot of it's made up but you do draw on people you've met or colleagues you've worked with."

She has never, however, met Prime Minister Theresa May "or even passed her in the corridors" or Stourbridge MP Margot James so they needn't worry that they may have been turned into fictionalised versions of themselves.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, however, has a subtle presence within the pages.

"He doesn't actually appear in my novel but one of my characters is in love with him," Rowena, who went to school at Greenfield Primary and Redhill, said - adding that her publisher sent him a copy of the book although "he never responded".

Book club host Mrs Cooper, who became friends with Rowena's family when they moved to Stourbridge from the Isle of Wight in 1980, described the book as "a very well-crafted novel with a twist" and she said of the author's trip back to the Black Country: "Everybody really appreciated having her here - we had quite a wide discussion about the book and how she gets her ideas."

Keen to make writing her life's work, Rowena - a mum-of-one - already has another book in the pipeline which she's hoping to publish.

She said: "It's in fact set in Stourbridge although I don't mention it by name. It's nothing to do with politics. There's romance in it and it's about human relationships and friendship. I wrote it about ten years ago but couldn't manage to get it published then."

But she's hoping this time round it will be snapped up following the success of The Threat Level Remains Severe which has notched up a host of five star reviews on Amazon where the author has been described as a "talent to watch".