Creative Writing graduate scoops Dundee International Book Prize

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A Masters student from the University of South Wales has won the prestigious Dundee International Book Prize for her debut novel.

Amy Mason, who is studying the Masters in Writing (MPhil), was awarded the top prize of £10,000 and a publishing deal for her novel, The Other Ida.

Despite leaving school at 16, Amy, who is originally from Poole and now lives in Oxford, only discovered writing when she was 25 and says it changed her life.

She saw off competition from 400 entries across the world in the annual contest, which was judged by a panel including novelist Neil Gaiman and broadcaster Kirsty Lang.

Amy was presented with her prize at the Dundee Literary Festival last week.

The Other Ida follows a woman named after a hit play written by her hard-drinking mother, as she returns home when the older woman succumbs to alcoholism.

Amy, 32, doubts she could have written it without the angst and depression of her twenties.

“The book is about a troubled, angry girl in her twenties and when I look at it now, I think I was very much like her,” says Amy.

“But now she seems so far away from me, almost like a caricature. I can’t believe it.

“When I first went to a writing class, it really changed my life. It was such an encouraging thing to do and, even though it was a 10-week course, it was first thing I’d completed for years and years.”

After her Dundee success, Amy is now hoping to continue with her writing, which includes The Islanders, winner of the 2013 Ideas Tap / Underbelly Edinburgh Fringe Fund.

She added: “Winning the Dundee International Book Prize is completely brilliant. I entered on a whim, and cried every time I got to another stage in the competition.

“To get the novel published, and enough money to keep me writing for a year, is amazing.

“It’s taken a long time to get here, but I’m delighted I can put Ida to bed in such a happy way.

“I said I’d never write another book, but have already started on the next one.”

 

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