08 May 2013

AWP staff nurse has first novel published

AWP staff nurse Nathan Filer's childhood dream of becoming a writer has finally come true with the publication of his first novel.

Published by HarperCollins, 'The Shock of the Fall' is Nathan's first book - it has already received glowing reviews and is this week's Radio 2 book club choice (click here for the interview with Simon Mayo).

Nathan, who works on Southmead's Mother and Baby Unit, explains what the book is about: "It's about Matthew Homes and his family. Matthew is nineteen, overweight, has a chipped front tooth, a tentative diagnosis of schizophrenia and a dead big brother who refuses to stay dead. He receives therapy at a day centre in Bristol, and it's here that with access to a computer he begins to write his story.

"It's a simple book about how grief can hold us, and affect our whole lives. But also - I think - a hopeful book. Matthew is irascible, conflicted and damaged. But he is also funny, humble, perceptive, stoic and brave. He is surrounded by a family who get many things wrong, but who are good people, who never give up on him, and never let his illness define him."

Nathan first imagined the main character back in 2003. "There were several false starts but I finally got serious about writing the book whilst studying for a Masters degree in creative writing in 2010."

When asked what elements of his work inspired or influenced him in his writing, he says: "As we know there are many misconceptions about mental illness, and especially psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia. I knew that if I was going to write about this I would need to do so with real care and sensitivity. I was determined not to propagate myths.

"So I set about creating a fully rounded central character - a young man who has schizophrenia but who isn't defined by it. There is so much more to Matthew than his illness. I think this won't surprise those of us who have worked in this field, or those who suffer from mental ill health. But it might surprise those who have known it only through fiction, or through sensationalised media representations.

"Hopefully my work as a nurse has offered me a sensitivity, knowledge and insight to deal with these matters in an honest and credible way."

You may have already come across Nathan's creative work as he is also a performance poet, writing his own material and performing at festivals like Glastonbury, Shambala and Green Man, and has also done radio work and made short poetry films.

On what the future holds, he says: "I would love to write another novel, but I'm giving myself a bit of time. I'm a new dad and just the promotional side of things for 'The Shock of the Fall' takes up a lot of time at the moment. The next event I'll be doing in the area is a reading in Bath on the 20 May."

The book is published this week and is available from all major booksellers. For more information on Nathan's creative work visit his website http://nathanfiler.co.uk.

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