Christchurch School Teacher Who Survived Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Wins International Writing Contest

Christchurch School Teacher Who Survived Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Wins International Writing Contest

Justin Warren, who lives and teaches in Christchurch, New Zealand, has won an audiobook production in the Page Turner Awards, which was announced at a glittering online ceremony, where Paul Michael Glaser from Starsky and Hutch fame was a special guest to announce the winners.

The Page Turner Awards, sponsored by ProWritingAid and Campfire, offers authors, writers, and screenwriters the chance to enter the first 10 pages of their writing project, where a judging panel of literary experts and film producers will read the work.

The Lewis Pass is described as: There are few things as dangerous as a man with nothing more left to lose.

Justin Warren wrote The Lewis Pass, as a follow-up to his debut novel, Dead Ground. It delves more deeply into the troubled background of the main character, Dylan Harper, a disgraced former detective who faces losing everything after his last case went badly wrong. The book returns to the small West Coast town of Westport, New Zealand, where Harper has one chance to unravel the web of lies that cost him his job and sent him to prison for the last three years.

During the writing of The Lewis Pass, Justin was diagnosed with a rare and extremely aggressive form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He was admitted to the hospital and began six months of intensive chemotherapy. During this time, he kept writing, partly as a way of filling in the time, and partly to keep his mind away from what was happening to him. He wrote every day, even if he could only manage a few short lines, and this gave him a sense of purpose and achievement.

This personal struggle for survival inevitably crept onto the pages of the manuscript and can be most clearly seen in the character of Dylan Harper.

As the months wore on, the chemotherapy took a terrible toll on his body, and after his sixth cycle he had no white blood cells left. A small infection led to a life-threatening fever, and he spent six days in an isolation ward with a temperature over forty degrees, receiving two blood transfusions and losing ten kilograms in just over a week. At this point Justin had to stop writing as he just didn't have the strength. However, he never gave up hope and scans showed that the drugs were working.

Shortly after he was discharged from the hospital, Justin completed the first draft of The Lewis Pass, and soon after, he got the news his cancer was in full remission. He is immensely proud of making it to the end of the book and is even more grateful to still be here to see it in the hands of readers.

Warren said: “"The Page Turner Awards is a fantastic avenue for aspiring writers to put their work in front of agents and publishers and receive the exposure they need to see their writing reach a wider audience. It is a huge honor to win an audiobook production.”

See more about Warren and his winning submission:

This year aspiring writers walked off the red carpet with life-changing prizes. One new unpublished writer won literary agency representation, while a screenwriter won literary management. Another new writer won a publishing deal, seven independent authors won an audiobook production from Spectrum Audiobooks, plus one other won a publishing package (including an edit, book cover and book trailer), and another author won a book adaptation.

The Page Turner Awards winners can be found here:

Submissions for the 2022 Awards will open in January 2022. Find out how you too can enter your writing into The Page Turner Awards: