Costa Book Awards, Nurse Newcomer

The Guardian announces today:

An intensive care nurse at Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London will compete for one of the UK’s biggest literary prizes after her debut novel was shortlisted in the Costa book awards.

Christie Watson, who has been a nurse for 18 years, is nominated in the first book category of a prize that unashamedly rewards what judges believe are the most “enjoyable” books of the year.

Watson worked her way up the nursing ladder to senior sister but always harboured literary ambitions. “I’d always wanted to write but I never really summoned up the courage,” she said. “It was always in me.”

The birth of her daughter prodded Watson into starting to write seriously. She secured a bursary for the creative writing course at the University of East Anglia and the result is her novel, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, which tells the story of 12-year-old Nigerian girl Blessing who has to leave her comfortable life in Lagos to live in an impoverished compound in the Niger Delta.

It is, Watson admits, a long way from her upbringing in Stevenage, Hertfordshire but, because her partner is Nigerian, it is a country she now knows well. “I originally started writing it from the point of view of a white western oil worker and it was really rubbish,” she said.

The book is available in Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook digital editions as well as in print.


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