Phoebe Roy has won Sceptre's "Sceptre Loves" short story prize for "It Was Summer", a story charting a relationship between two men as it changes with the seasons.
Roy said: "I’m so thrilled and honoured that my story was selected as the winner; I'd sent it off feeling quite proud of it, but as soon as I'd pressed 'send' I saw that it was of course the worst thing that anyone had ever written. I am delighted that the judges disagreed, and it's fantastic that publishers are actively seeking new voices in this way."
The selected runners up are Carol Farrelly for "Holdfast", and Xanthi Barker for "Adjectives", as judged by Lucy Luck, literary agent at Conville and Walsh, Chris White, fiction buyer at Waterstones, and Emma Herdman, senior editor at Sceptre.
The prize was launched by Sceptre to mark the publication of its short story collection How Much the Heart Can Hold, which comprises stories, each reflecting on a different kind of love, by writers Bernardine Evaristo, Carys Bray, D. W. Wilson, Donal Ryan, Grace McCleen, Nikesh Shukla and Rowan Hisayo Buchanan. Roy’s short story will be included in the paperback edition of the book publishing in August.
As well as publication in the paperback, Roy is to be awarded £150 and a two-hour consultation about her work with Herdman. The prize will be formally presented at the paperback launch in August.
Herdman commented: "The standard of the competition was very high, but I didn’t think we’d find a story like Phoebe’s – one that gave all three of us goose bumps and, despite being perfectly formed, left us wanting more from her pen. I can’t wait to see what Phoebe does next."