Nathan Filer - alumnus profile

Working in Health Care

Nathan Filer

Having graduated from UWE Bristol in 2004 with a degree in Mental Health Nursing, Nathan started working on an acute psychiatric ward near his home in Clifton. In 2007 he took up a research post at the University of Bristol, but he recognises the influence his hands-on health work had on his fiction: "[The main character] suffers from a mental illness, an illness which is probably schizophrenia. He certainly meets the criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia. And in writing about that of course I drew from my experiences of working in mental health care."

A New Novelist

In 2010 Nathan enrolled on an MA in Creative Writing course at Bath Spa University, and the novel that he had slowly been working on had a fresh burst of life. He had previously performed poetry around the UK and written for television and radio, but this was to be his first full-length novel. He worked around his part-time job in health care and wrote 9-5 every day, treating it like a job in itself. He continued to persevere, even when times were tough: "I spent a lot of time in deep despair! I found it very difficult to write about, but I felt compelled to and there was something about it that I couldn’t let go of." His hard work finally paid off, and after an 11-way bidding war, his novel was finally published by HarperCollins in 2013.

Recognition and Reward

Nathan soon began lecturing in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University alongside his part-time work in mental health care. In November 2013 he was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and won, qualifying him as a contender for the prestigious Costa Book Award. Just two months later, his novel was named Costa Book of the Year and he was presented with the delightful prize of £30,000! Nathan was obviously thrilled: "I wrote this book because I want to share it. I wasn’t writing it for myself… I always wanted people to read it and winning this means more and more people will read it so I’m absolutely delighted by that."

Back to Work

Despite his success, Nathan returned to work immediately because he didn’t want a fuss and wanted to get straight back into his work. He is now a registered mental health nurse, which means he is qualified to work but only covers shifts when he is required. He spends the rest of his time lecturing at Bath Spa University, and is currently researching a new project."A nursing degree is hard work, and rightly so. I feel a great pride in being a registered nurse, and consider my time at UWE Bristol to have been a defining period in my life. I have many happy memories from my time there." Will he be writing anything else? "I wrote my first novel when I was seven and have never really stopped since. I am writing at the moment and I don’t really have a plan. I always have something on the go. I just like to see what emerges."

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