Tale of love and redemption wins grandmother £50,000 book deal

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The Independent Culture

Richard And Judy's book club has transformed sales figures for dozens of novels, and turned modest publishing successes into triumphs. And now the husband and wife team have turned literary talent spotters too, with a competition for budding authors that could make a star of a grandmother and homeopath from Bournemouth.

Richard And Judy's book club has transformed sales figures for dozens of novels, and turned modest publishing successes into triumphs. And now the husband and wife team have turned literary talent spotters too, with a competition for budding authors that could make a star of a grandmother and homeopath from Bournemouth.

Christine Aziz, 52, who left school at 15 with a single O-level in English, won the Channel 4 show's competition and will receive a £50,000 advance for her first novel. She beat more than 46,000 other viewers who were asked to submit a synopsis and the first chapter to the show's How To Get Published contest.

Her manuscript, provisionally entitled The Olive Readers, was described as a love story of courage and redemption told by a young woman who writes from a dystopian future. Ms Aziz said winning gave her "the luxury of having time to finish writing my novel" without worrying about money.

Ms Aziz, who was born in Yorkshire, has worked as a shop assistant, dental receptionist, factory packer, singer and cleaner, but her only experience of writing was as a news reporter for three years. She did not like the pressure of journalism, but now she must complete the work and brace herself for sales and marketing treatment usually reserved for bestselling authors.

Five aspiring authors made it on to the shortlist for judging by a panel that comprised Joseph O'Connor, whose book Star of the Sea soared in sales after rave reviews on Richard and Judy, Amanda Ross, the head of the television company which makes the show, and Maria Rejt, publishing director for Pan Macmillan, which will publish the winning story.

In a surprise move, Pan Macmillan also offered the four runners-up the chance to be published, with advances of £20,000 each: Alison Penton Harper, 40, a mother of two, from Northamptonshire; Rachel Zadok te Riele, 33, from South Africa, a waitress who lives in south London; David Fiddimore, 60, who is married with two children and has written two unpublished novels and numerous short stories; and Spencer Jordan, 38, a lecturer at the University of Wales in Cardiff.

Ms Rejt said the shortlist reflected "an extraordinary range of talent from the extremely commercial to the exquisitely literary".

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