Rising talent Carys Bray has been named this year’s MA Creative Writing winner in the Edge Hill University Short Story Prize 2010.

To help celebrate the University’s 125th anniversary, this brand new category was introduced as part of the awards for 2010 to acknowledge one of the institution’s aspiring literary stars.

Southport mother-of four Carys was named the winner by judges for her story Just in Case at a special ceremony at Blackwell’s bookstore in Charing Cross, London last week.

The 34-year-old was stunned when she heard the news and said: “When I heard about the competition I thought it was a great idea because it’s the first time the University has done anything like this. I never expected to win so when I found out the news I was dancing all around the kitchen with my children, I was so excited. It’s also the first time that I’ve ever been paid for my work so it has made me feel like a real writer.”

She admits that she had never really tried to write until she started at the Open University. When Edge Hill introduced the new MA in Creative Writing, she thought it sounded interesting and has since built up an impressive portfolio.

Carys said: “I have found the course fantastic and really inspiring. I particularly love writing short stories because it is amazing what can be achieved in such a condensed space. Sadness, humour and many other emotions can all be expressed in the short story and that’s what I enjoy about it.

“The majority of my work involves humour but the particular story I entered is quite different, a little quirky and dark in parts. It’s about a woman who becomes unhinged after her baby dies and she borrows somebody else’s baby. The tale ends when her husband finds the child hidden in a suitcase. My inspiration came after reading a blog from a guy who had found the skeleton of a baby in a suitcase in his mum’s loft, so it was very likely that it was his sibling and he knew nothing about it. I thought this would make the basis of a really good story.”

Her work impressed the judges and she received £500 and a commemorative copy of her winning story, printed by the prize’s co-sponsor, Blackwell’s.

On the night Carys also had the chance to mingle with famous writers including screenwriter and co-creator of The League of Gentlemen Jeremy Dyson, who was this year’s first prize winner for his collection of macabre short stories, The Cranes that Build the Cranes. She was also able to pick up tips from the Readers’ Prize winner Robert Shearman who is best-known as a writer for Doctor Who as well as judge Chris Beckett, who was the winner of the 2009 Edge Hill Short Story Prize.

She said: “It was so inspiring to listen to other writers whose work I really admire. It’s nice to hear how they have made it in the literary world and it gives me hope for the future.”