Civil servant shortlisted for national fiction award

Written by Jim Dunton on 22 January 2018 in News

BEIS programme manager makes literary springboard’s ‘final three’ 

Chris Hunter Credit: Costa

A civil servant working at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has made the shortlist of a prestigious annual fiction award.

BEIS programme manager Chris Hunter is one of three aspiring authors shortlisted for the 2017 Costa Short Story Award, previous winners of which have gone on to become published novelists.

The 32-year-old, who lives in Teddington, south-west London, had his story “When the Bell Tolls” judged anonymously as part of the selection process and will learn later this month whether it has won the award.


Hunter's fellow finalists are journalist-turned primary-school teacher Luan Goldie and IT-specialist-turned-writer Frances Ainslie.

The short story award is open to published and unpublished authors, but the submitted entry must be 4,000 words or fewer and previously unpublished.

When the Bell Tolls concerns a man capable of predicting the exact date of people’s deaths. It is part of a recently-completed series of short stories.

Hunter’s biggest writing project to date is an as-yet-unpublished account of a walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats that he made in the company of two friends. Titled “We Ran Out of Land”, the work was written as a personal memento of the journey, and completed in 2016.

Costa said Hunter had “always aspired to write fiction” and was currently working on a manuscript for his first novel.

Should Hunter scoop the award, he will not be the first civil servant to do so. Former prison manager Avril Joy, from Witton-le-Wear near Bishop Aukland, won the inaugural Short Story Award in 2012. 

Other previous winners  include Jess Kidd, whose debut novel “Himself” was published in 2016 and whose second novel “The Hoarder” comes out next month; and Zoe Gilbert, whose debut novel “Folk” is due out on 8th February, published by Bloomsbury.

In addition to literary kudos, the Short Story Award winner receives a £3,500 prize.

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