BEIS staffer ‘chuffed’ with fiction prize placing

Programme manager bags runner up slot in literary springboard the Costa Short Story Award

Chris Hunter. Credit: Costa

By Jim Dunton

05 Feb 2018

Aspiring author Chris Hunter has spoken of his delight at being shortlisted in the Costa Short Story Awards, and going on to secure second place.

The programme manager at the Office for Product Safety and Standards was one of three authors picked as finalists in the 2017 fray, a sister competition to the Costa Book Awards. A public vote placed his “When The Bell Tolls” yarn in the runner up slot at the end of last month.

Previous winners and shortlisted authors in the awards have gone on to secure publishing contracts, among them Jess Kidd and Zoe Gilbert. The 2017 prize – for which Hunter was vying – went to former journalist, and now primary school teacher, Luan Goldie.


After last week’s award ceremony, 32-year-old Hunter told Civil Service World that he had been “really chuffed” to make it onto the shortlist, but admitted “a slight element of disappointment” at being pipped to the post by Goldie, who also pockets a £3.500 prize.

However he said that colleagues within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, where his newly-formed organisation is based, had been “really supportive” and complimentary. He stressed that he was planning to continue with his day job.

Nevertheless, Hunter is working on his first full length novel and hopes to complete it by the end of this year.

"Trying to get a book published is no small task through the traditional route, so if there's any way to even slightly improve your chances through something like the Costa Short Story Award, then it's worth it,” he said.

"It's still at a very early stage with the novel; I'm on about 10,000 words, which is about three chapters or one-tenth of what I'm aiming for.

"I'm cautiously optimistic about getting the first draft done by the end of May or June.”

Hunter said he did not devote lunchtimes to the book, however.

“The routine is that I try to write for two to three hours every evening,” he said.

“Commuting to work tends to be more thinking time, summoning ideas to get down when I'm back at home, after dinner.”

Hunter’s biggest writing project to date is an as-yet-unpublished account of a walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats that he made in the company of two friends.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.

His short story, When the Bell Tolls, can be read here.

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