Three female authors will compete for The Desmond Elliott Prize 2015.
All three authors shortlisted for this year’s £10,000 award, which is for debut novels, are published by Penguin Random House.
Emma Healey is shortlisted for Elizabeth is Missing (Viking), Carys Bray for A Song for Issy Bradley (Hutchinson), and Claire Fuller for Our Endless Numbered Days (Fig Tree).
Chair of judges, author Louise Doughty, said: “It’s fascinating to see that each writer arrived here from slightly unorthodox beginnings and it’s a testament to The Desmond Elliott Prize that it identifies and rewards the very best new writing talent, whatever the author’s date of birth. Our shortlist shows that there’s no age limit on being a sparkling new arrival on the literary scene.”
Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days is about a young girl who is taken to live in a cottage in the forest by her survivalist father.
Fuller originally studied sculpture at Winchester School of Art, specialising in wood and stone carving, then ran her own marketing company for 23 years.
She began writing fiction in her 40s, spurred on by National Novel Writing Month.
Healey’s Elizabeth is Missing is about an elderly woman who is searching for her old friend called Elizabeth. Fuller’s first degree was in bookbinding, after which she worked in an art gallery. She eventually enrolled in the UEA Creative Writing Course before Elizabeth is Missing went on to sell at auction.
Bray’s A Song for Issy Bradley is about a Mormon family coping with the death of a child. Bray was restricted from writing until recently, and five years ago she and her husband removed their family from the Mormon faith.
Dallas Manderson, chairman of the prize trustees, said: “We are delighted to present these outstanding titles in our search for this year’s best debut. The judges have done an admirable job selecting a shortlist from a particularly strong and varied longlist this year and we look forward to seeing which book ultimately comes out on top.”
Doughty is joined on the judging panel by bookseller Jonathan Ruppin and journalist and author Viv Groskop. The winner will be revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on 1st July, where she will be presented with a cheque for £10,000.
Last year’s prize was won by Eimear McBride for A Girl is a Half-formed Thing (Galley Beggar/Faber).