A GROUP of teenagers hanging round outside One Stop in Hedge End might not be the most obvious inspiration for a work of literature.

But the convenience store is one of the many recognisable Hampshire locations in the novel Broken, which is selling to an international market and has been optioned for a BBC film.

It is the first novel of Nigel Spriggs, a Hedge End man who has spent his entire life being an aspiring writer, while holding down a series of what he describes as dead end jobs, while his dream showed no signs of getting any closer.

In fact, it was after yet another rejection for one of his novels that Nigel decided that he would stop writing to get published and would just write what he wanted.

And he took his inspiration from the area he lives in. Other recognisable locations include Port Solent, a recycling centre and Drummond Road - even the Daily Echo gets a couple of mentions.

Nigel says that setting his story in his surroundings helped make it feel more real and the two-book deal it secured him with publishing heavyweights Harper Collins suggests it was the right decision.

"As soon as I started to write it locally, it felt like the right thing to do," says Nigel who writes under the pen name Daniel Clay.

"The mood of the story went with certain situations. If I was a bit stuck on not knowing how to push the scene forward, I could just describe a scene which was real and that would help kick start it."

Securing a publishing deal with Broken was more than just a dream come true for Nigel. It was the validation for what he had spent at least 30 years of his life doing - writing.

"I tried to write my first novel when I was 14, but I remember that as young as five or six the only stuff I really enjoyed at school was writing a story," says the softly, spoken 37-year-old who hasn't adjusted to talking about his books rather than just writing them yet.

"I've made five serious attempts at writing a novel, which I'd class as the work I did from 1998 onwards. I probably wrote about six before that.

"I used to feel embarrassed about the fact that I'd been trying to do this for so long and hadn't really got anywhere with it. I don't think the people I worked with would have known I was writing novels. When anyone found out the first question would always be what have you had published?'.

"I mind now that I was embarrassed because I was doing something I love - you shouldn't judge it commercially."

Around ten years ago, Nigel got his first agent, but the pair parted ways when Nigel found that while his agent liked his writing he didn't think his work was the sort of thing publishers were interested in.

"I had quite a bleak time then,"

he says.

"I'd quit studying to be an accountant, was stuck in a dead end job with no real chance of promotion and the writing wasn't going well. That was the situation when I sat down to write Broken.

I was at a crossroads and I'd just about given up writing to be published. I love writing but I haven't really enjoyed the last few years. I let rip in the book - I thought I don't really care if anyone reads this or not, I'll just write what I really feel.'"

That was in March 2005. Nigel finished the book in December of the same year and sent it off to a publisher who had shown some interest in the past.

After another rejection he lost his confidence and put it in a drawer for six months, but in June 2006 he began the push to get published.

He sent the manuscript to every agent who had shown interest before and received rejections from every one of them. After that he began working his way through an alphabetical list of all the agents in the country. It's considered bad form to send more than one manuscript off at a time, but Nigel found it frustrating to wait weeks only to get another rejection so he began sending off three at once.

"My wife and I went on holiday and I put about 20 submissions in the post all at once. When we got back the mat was a sea of rejections, but I had an email from Jonny Geller at Curtis Brown saying he'd enjoyed it. He's one of the most successful agents in the country and Curtis Brown is a huge agency - to get all these rejections and then have someone like that take an interest was just mad."

Broken tells the story of a young girl who is in a coma and the sometimes humorous, sometimes harrowing events which unfold to lead her to that point.

A chain of events, which leads to her being in a coma - as well as more than one death - begins when Saskia, one of the notorious members of the thuggish Oswald family, sleeps with her nerdy neighbour Rick.

False accusations of rape, drug use, violence and mental breakdown follow.

He was inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird and wondered what it would be like if characters from the book such as Scout, Boo Radley and Aticus were put into a modern setting, into Nigel's world.

Having got a book deal with major publishing house Harper Collins, Nigel finally gave up the day job in August and was delighted that he felt he could legitimately call himself a writer.

"Leaving work felt brilliant," he says enthusiastically.

"It was very strange though. It almost felt like I should be writing 24 hours a day. Even if I popped to a shop I felt guilty."

Nigel is now deeply into writing his next book for Harper Collins. He says that initially he struggled to write every line, aware that his editor and publisher would be scrutinising his work and deciding whether or not it was what they wanted.

But then he told himself that it didn't matter - if they don't like the book he can just write another one.

It may seem like a rather cavalier attitude but given the amount of work which Nigel has already done, which has gone unpublished, perhaps it's not that surprising.

"I throw so many words away - thousands and thousands," he says matter-of-factly.

"Broken is about 86,000 words long, but I must have written another 30,000 or 40,000 which didn't make it into the book."

Nigel has been writing for some 25 years, doing jobs he didn't enjoy so that he could focus on the writing which filled his spare time. He has produced around a million unpublished words as well as several novels and a number of short stories which may never see the light of day.

But it is all worth it. Broken has been published, and at last Nigel Spriggs is an author.