A Wellington-based mother of two has won the Commonwealth Short Story Competition out of more than 2000 entries.
Emma Martin won the pacific section last month, and became one of five finalists in the overall competition.
Her entry Two Girls in a Boat was announced the winner over the weekend.
The story is a cross-cultural tale of two girlfriends in London. Martin originally penned it while completing her Masters in Creative Writing at Victoria University in 2010.
Speaking to the Dominion Post after her entry had been shortlisted, she said she felt like a new kid on the block.
''I felt excited just to be on the list. I've had stories published in a few different journals, but this feels like a huge step up for me. It's hugely encouraging.''
Commonwealth Short Story Prize chair Bernardine Evaristo praised Martin's work for having linguistic flair, originality, depth and daring.
''The story was chosen for its gorgeous, elegant and spare writing, its nuanced handling of time, place and relationships, its daring, provocative subject matter and clear-eyed exploration of the choice of heterosexual conformity in the face of sexual mutability.''
Evaristo said it was great that Martin, who had never published a book, had been discovered through the competition.
Martin said it was a wonderful and unexpected honour to win this prize. ''Writing can be a solitary business, so to receive any award is immensely encouraging. But the Commonwealth Short Story Prize is especially meaningful to me.''
Martin grew up in Dunedin and her stories and essays have been published in literary journals and anthologies in New Zealand and Britain.
She is currently working on a collection of short stories.
Commonwealth Writers is a new cultural programme within the Commonwealth Foundation which aims to develops, connects and inspire writers.
- The Dominion Post
Is New Zealand's airport security stringent enough?Related story: Risky objects bypass Wellington Airport security