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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 April 2007, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK
Mental health novel up for prize
Clare Allan
Clare Allan won the first Orange short story prize
An author who "wrote herself" out of a psychiatric hospital has been nominated for the Orange Prize for new writers.

Clare Allan, who spent a decade in the mental health system, made the shortlist for her debut novel Poppy Shakespeare, based on her experiences.

"I had to resist the staff who treated my novelist aspirations as proof that I was delusional," the 39-year-old said.

The other nominees for the prize, to be awarded in June, are Pakistani Roopa Farooki and Canadian Karen Connelly.

Allan, whose debut novel is billed as Catch-22 meets One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, gained an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia after leaving hospital.

She became ill after moving to London in her early twenties to pursue her dream of becoming an author, but stopped writing and eating.

'Poor treatment'

"You are not valued as a human being, it's not wonder hardly anyone gets better," she said of her time in hospital.

"I believe that if you grabbed the nearest normal person off the street and put them in a psychiatric hospital, they'd be diagnosable as mad within weeks," she added.

Cover of Clare Allan's Poppy Shakespeare
Channel 4 has bought the TV rights to Clare Allan's debut novel

Channel 4 has already bought the rights to Poppy Shakespeare, which also made the longlist for the main Orange Prize for fiction.

Farooki, who now lives in London, is shortlisted for her novel Bitter Sweets and has already completed a second book.

Connelly's nomination is for The Lizard Cage, about a Burmese protester who is sentenced to military confinement by the country's regime.

The Orange prizes for fiction and new writers honour female writing.

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17 Apr 07 |  Entertainment
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06 Jun 06 |  Entertainment

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