Diver's Times Square tale

A DEEP-SEA diver has landed a respected teen book prize with his debut novel.

Gregory Hughes was named the winner of the Booktrust Teenage Prize 2010 for his first literary effort, Unhooking The Moon.

He beat shortlisted authors such as Fast Show star-turned-young James Bond author Charlie Higson and Marcus Sedgwick, with judges hailing his "genuinely unique voice".

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Mr Hughes was expelled from a Jesuit school in his native Liverpool as a teenager and spent time in a detention centre.

He went on to work as a removal man, window cleaner and dishwasher, before becoming a deep sea diver. It was while taking his GCSEs when in his 20s that he completed his first major piece of written work - an account of his time sleeping rough in New York's Times Square.

Unhooking The Moon follows two sibling orphans, Rat and Bob, on a perilous road trip to New York, and was written while Mr Hughes lived in a small room in Iceland.

Chair of judges Tony Bradman said: "All of us felt that Unhooking The Moon stood out from the beginning of our discussions. I have no doubt that this debut marks the beginning of a great career."

The author was awarded a 2,500 cheque at a ceremony in London.

Past prize winners include Neil Gaiman and Mark Haddon.