NORTH Devon care worker Anna Mendham has been named the best unpublished novelist at the Brit Writers Awards.
She is now working with a London agent in an effort to get her book, Dog Rose, into print next year.
The novel was described by a panel of readers as "a real toffee of a tale" and "the kind of book you hunker down with under the duvet and read in one night".
Set in the 17th century, Dog Rose is an historically accurate account of white slavery, involving Britain's poor young people who were kidnapped and taken to Barbados.
For years, Anna secretly wished to write novels but held back thinking she would never be able to. But, at the age of 30, she cast her fears aside, and abandoned more lucrative pursuits in favour of following her dream. From day one, despite the clumsiness of her efforts, she discovered it to be the most fulfilling thing she'd ever done.
Statistics suggest that only one in 5,000 novels get published in the UK.
Anna, 37, of Georgeham, said: "When the odds are stacked against you, you need to summon your courage and treasure your allies.
"There's a lovely Buddhist proverb, 'a friend is someone who sings you the song of your heart when you've forgotten the words', and I have to say a massive thank you to all of those wonderful people in my life who have encouraged me to keep going."
Anna is currently working alongside London agent Lizzy Kremer, to polish her work ready for publication.
Dog Rose should be on the shelves in 2012.
The Brit Writers' Awards took place at Madame Tussauds in London. The ceremony is due to be televised on Sky next month.