Nurse wins Costa Book Award but won't give up the day job
Christie Watson, a nurse who turned to writing in her spare time, has won a Costa Book Award with her debut novel.
Christie Watson, 35, took home the Costa First Novel Award for Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, which follows the travails of a family growing up in Nigeria.
She began writing while on maternity leave several years ago and won a place on a creative writing MA course at the University of East Anglia despite leaving school at 16 with no A-levels.
The judges described her book as a “vibrant gem of a novel”. Watson received a cheque for £5,000 and her book becomes one of five contenders for the £30,000 overall Costa Book of the Year, which is announced later this month.
However, Watson has no plans to give up her job at a London teaching hospital, even though she is hard at work on her follow-up novel.
“All I can say is I really have two jobs at the moment - nursing and writing. I can’t imagine separating myself from being a nurse, it’s all I’ve done since I was 17 years old,” she said.
“It still hasn’t sunk in that I’ve won. I came to writing late in life and the shock of even being nominated hasn’t worn off yet.”
In the Novel category, Julian Barnes’ Booker Prize winner The Sense of an Ending was shortlisted but lost out to Pure by Andrew Miller.
Claire Tomalin’s acclaimed study of Charles Dickens was beaten in the Biography category by Matthew Hollis’s book about Edward Thomas, the First World War poet.
Now All Roads Lead To France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas focused on the last five years of Thomas’s life and the poet’s friendship with Robert Frost.
Carol Ann Duffy won the Costa Poetry Award for The Bees, her first collection since being appointed Poet Laureate in 2009.
Moira Young won the Children’s Book Award for Blood Red Road, a post-apocalyptic thriller for teenagers. Ridley Scott has optioned the film rights.
The overall winner will be announced on January 24.