ALISIA NURSE unleashing the power of the pen

She says her first novel, The Return of the Key, was inspired by the love of her maternal grandparents, with whom she grew up. But it was not an easy task for someone living with fibromyalgia and clinical depression.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues, while clinical depression is a severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder.

“Writing has been therapeutic as a means of escapism and helpful in giving me something to keep me going, just because I have a weird quirk where I must complete anything I start.

“It’s not been easy though, because fibromyalgia can cause cognitive impairments in some patients. This makes it very difficult for me to write, read and do research when I have trouble concentrating.

“I forget a lot, get confused and often have trouble expressing myself. Writing such an important story was an instrumental coping mechanism in managing my physical and mental health,” Nurse tells Woman’s Weekly.

The book tells the story of 16-year-old Eliza Aurelio, who grapples with her mixed race identity amid rising racial tensions on her little island home.

For their safety, Eliza’s grandfather sends her and her grandmother to a quiet town in Southwest England to stay with a relative.

But this otherwise quiet town has been turned upside down by people mysteriously disappearing. Eliza eventually encounters a magical but dangerous realm accessible through a doorway in the town, and sees its connection to the abductions.

She intends to put things right, only wanting to protect her family. To do this, she must return a stolen key to lock the open doorway. But Eliza has to overcome her own inner conflicts if she is to stand any chance of being successful and leaving the other realm alive.

“The Return of the Key explores the power of love, sacrifice and the journey to self acceptance,” Nurse explains.

“The book is fiction but a lot of my experiences with some of the highlighted issues shaped the story.”

This form of therapy, she says, came about by chance when she reluctantly started blogging as a mandatory part of her Master of Arts degree programme. This quickly turned into a love affair and she now blogs about living with fibromyalgia and clinical depression in order to raise awareness.

“I now happily write about my experiences, after learning how sharing my stories have helped others.”

She says the book took her three years of writing on and off with a lot of distractions and issues in between. And although she had two offers from publishers, she decided to self publish for a number of years.

“Including the fact that I wrote the novel as a token of my love for my grandparents and they are 91 and 87. I really wanted to give it to them as soon as possible.”

But the 29-year-old was writing even long before that. “I love sharing stories and had a keen interest in fantasy and mythology from a young age. My favourite novels are JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. At 16, while doing CXC exams, the then Tunapuna resident began her career as a freelance journalist at the now defunct Wire newspaper, where she wrote feature articles.

At 18 she joined the CCN Tv6 team as a broadcast journalist, where she stayed until she moved to Jamaica at 21 to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media and Communications at the University of the West Indies.

She graduated with First Class Honours. She subsequently moved to London and completed a Master of Arts degree in International Journalism at the University of Westminster.

Nurse has worked at international media houses like CNN International and the BBC World Service and has had some amazing experiences.

She says the highlight of her career was her assignment as producer for the historic royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2010 from the London Eye for CNN International.

“My role was to direct the cameraman and engineer on what to do based on what the studio producers wanted. I was also charged with resolving any issues that popped up during our work day, making sure all the dots connected and everything worked smoothly.”
Despite all this exposure in a public profession, though, she describes herself as a “hermit” who is able to socialise best in situations where she is comfortable.

“I enjoy meeting and talking to random people on public transportation. I’ve studied and lived in different countries, with friends of such varying backgrounds and beliefs, and I’m just fascinated by people, the way they think and how they see the world.

“When my mood is low sometimes it helps to hop on a bus, do some people-watching and talk to some random strangers.” She adds that cooking curry, spending time with family, and her love for parrots also help.

While writing her first novel was challenging, she says the benefits have outweighed the challenges. She hopes to publish another novel in the not too distant future.
The Return of the Key will soon be available on Amazon; while the ebook is available from ibooks, Kobo, Smashwords and Barnes & Nobles.


"ALISIA NURSE unleashing the power of the pen"

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