A FORMER Weymouth teacher who found fame as a writer has returned to Dorset to launch her latest book.

Kirsten Espensen, who taught at St Andrews School and Westfield Technology College and now goes by her pen name Kit Berry, was at Waterstones in Dorchester for the unveiling of Shadows at Stonewylde.

The novel is the latest in her Stonewylde series, that has attracted a cult following among dedicated fans.

Kirsten, who was awarded a six-figure book deal with publisher Orion last year, now lives in Reading, but spent more than 25 years living in Dorset and the fictional setting of her books was inspired by the Drax estate at Charborough Park.

She was delighted with her return to Dorchester as fans, friends and former pupils and colleagues turned up for the launch event at Waterstones.

Kirsten said: “We had queues out the door for most of the day and they sold out of books in the end so it went really well.

“It was lovely to see kids that I used to teach there and parents of children I used to teach as well as friends and former colleagues.”

Kirsten, who faces a busy time in the coming weeks promoting her new book, said it was important for her to start it all off in Dorset as it was where she got much of the inspiration for her writing.

She said: “It was very emotional and it was lovely to see all the people who have read my books from the very beginning.

“It was just great and I was overwhelmed by it all.

“It was important to me to come back to Dorset for the launch.”

Kirsten’s works have attracted an avid online following, with fans even setting up their own social network, and her agent is currently in talks over filming rights to bring Stonewylde to the big screen.

She is now embarking on a South West tour.