Bournemouth-born writer, Amy Mason won the 2014 Dundee International Book Prize after taking up writing at the age of 25.
Mason, 32, entered the international competition on a whim with her novel The Other Ida, overcoming four hundred other applicants to claim the £10,000 prize money and publishing deal.
“I had the book sitting on my computer and saw the prize advertised” she said. “There was no entry fee so I thought, why not?”
After leaving Parkstone Grammar School, Poole at 16, Mason was “depressed and living on incapacity benefit in London.”
Writing had always been her dream, and at the age of 25 she went on to an adult ed class, completing the ten week course with a new lease of life.
“I was pretty scared about going back to any kind of education” Mason notes, “but found I really enjoyed it!”
After receiving good feedback from the teacher, Ms Mason then began an Arvon residential writing course taught by novelist Tiffany Murray.
“She gave me an enormous amount of confidence and has been my friend ever since.”
Although she now lives in Oxford, Mason’s award-winning novel is situated in the heart of Bournemouth.
The Other Ida depicts the fractured relationship between two sisters, Alice and Ida, after Ida returns home for her mother’s funeral for the first time in years.
Struggling to escape the shadow of her mother’s play for which she was named after, Ida is forced to confront her troubled past.
Mason acknowledges that there are some aspects of Ida’s character similar to herself: “she’s selfish and loud and drunk and, like me, very tall.”
This is not the first of her work that Mason has featured in the seaside town.
Her first show, The Islanders was autobiographical, depicting Amy’s own relationship with her ex-boyfriend while living in a bedsit in Winton.
It was performed in 2013, winning the Ideas Tap and Underbelly Edinburgh Fringe Fund, and received four and five star reviews.
Remarking on her recent feat, Mason adds, “This success has given me the encouragement to go on writing.”
Now with her own agent, she is currently working on a solo show about her relationship with faith, titled Mass.
“It’s such an elusive dream for so many people” she notes, “I’m feeling a bit full of myself at the moment, not quite Kanye West, but on the way.”