In buzzing Bethnal Green author Suzy Norman believes she found a sense of place and identity.
So the Welsh woman translated her passion for the East End into words, making the area the setting for a key chapter in her first novel, Duff.
The love story tells the tale of protagonist Duff Boyd who returns from hospital after a near-fatal bout of pneumonia.
After re-connecting with former wife, Nerys, he resolves to win her back by proposing a road trip across the UK.
Their journey starts in Wales – a nod to Suzy’s roots, while London appears as the setting for Duff’s first job.
Suzy, who has lived in Bethnal Green for 14 years, said: “It’s an important scene because it’s a moment of revelation and it covers the first job Duff worked at in London.
“I really wanted to bring the area into it.
“East London is a place you can learn who you are – I’m from Wales originally and here I found my life.
“The action moves around a bit because it’s a road trip but there’s a key scene in Bow.
“Duff is recounting stories of the first time he stood up for himself against bullies and it took place in Bow, where he worked at the time.
“If you are away from home and territories you become vulnerable and you rely on somebody more than you would at home.
“That can be empowering but it can make you feel very vulnerable and small so I thought it would be interesting to put that back in the book.”
She added: “I really wanted to describe east London visually as well.
“It was a scene that happened in the early 1990s so Bethnal Green was quite different.
“It wasn’t gentrified, like it is now and I was interested in that and wanted to describe the seedy pubs and the atmosphere of suspicion between the north and south of England.”
The rough version of Duff – originally called The Dreaming – scooped a nomination for the Dundee International Book Prize 2014.
After some fine-tuning it is now ready for release on Thursday, October 22.
Suzy, a freelance journalist, will present her debut book at Brick Lane Book Shop during a public event starting at 7pm.
“I’m really pleased,” she said. “It was hard to find a publisher, because it’s a literary scenario that’s a man’s point of view but written by a woman.
“It was unusual and sometimes publishers don’t know how to market those sorts of books.”
Duff is published by Patrician Press and priced at £9.