An Ashton-on-Ribble author with a rare autoimmune disease has secured a two-book deal after winning the Joffe Books Prize for Crime Writers of Colour.Advertisement
In 2015, Christie Newport fundraised for life-saving treatment in America for Melkersson Rosenthal syndrome, flying to Santa Monica for stem cell replacement therapy.
Before the treatment, Christie was housebound and suffered from severe facial and body swelling, leaving her contemplating Dignitas, a Swiss non-profit offering assisted suicide to those suffering from terminal illnesses.
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Christie said: “I had a journalism degree (the first person in my family to attend university), but I could not use it. Life was unliveable.
“I’ve always loved the escapism of reading and writing and had dreamed of being an author since I was a child. I didn’t think it would ever happen.”
Upon returning from the States, Christie felt much better. But the journey was not over, as she developed sepsis three times, as well as necrosis and severe anaemia.
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She needed blood and iron infusions and surgeries and spent much of her time in hospital, of which many stays were in intensive care. Christie was eventually diagnosed correctly and withdrew from prescribed opioids.
Christie said: “Finally, I began reclaiming my life. It is a daily battle to deal with my illness. But on my relatively good days, I write.
“I attended the first Capital Crime convention in London and was inspired to chase my dream at long last. I have written two books, and I am halfway through a third. “
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After sending her first book to agents Northbank Talent Management, she worked out a contract with literary agent Hannah Weatherill, who signed her.
Christie entered her second novel, Branded, into the Joffe Books Prize 2021 competition. It aims to discover new talent amongst crime writers of colour, addressing the lack of diversity in publishing.
She said: “I was on my way to Preston from where I currently live in Northumberland to celebrate signing with my agent with my family. I was contacted by Joffe Books, who said I won the competition and clinched a two-book deal.”
“One of the judges was one of my all-time idols, Dorothy Koomson. I was voted the winner by a unanimous decision. I have appeared on the front cover of The Bookseller magazine and will be having a meal with the judges, my agent and my wife, Amy, in London in the New Year.”
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The book is scheduled for an Autumn 2022 release, while Whittingham is out on submission early next year, so Christie hopes to secure two publishing deals.
Whittingham is a standalone psychological thriller set in Whittingham Asylum in 1952, with scenes in 1995.
Whittingham was the largest asylum of its kind in the UK and was situated on the outskirts of Preston. Branded is a modern-day police procedural series set in Preston.
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Christie said: “I receive monthly infusions for my disease and fight through it as best I can every day.
“It is an inflammatory disease that causes my whole body to swell up painfully, alongside symptoms such as extreme lethargy. Writing books has always been my dream. I never imagined it would become my reality.
“I continue to receive a lot of support from the wonderful writing community and feel I have finally found my place in the world. This disease has taken so much from me, and I am determined to grab every part of life I can and live it to its fullest.”
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