THE co-founder of a book store in Abingdon said she "can't wait" for her own children's book to appear on the shelves.

Nicki Thornton’s murder mystery, The Firefly Cage, has won her a £10,000 publishing contract with Chicken House, and the book will come out in 2017.

It tells the story of kitchen boy Seth, who is caught up in a murder investigation at a magicians’ convention.

Mum-of-two Mrs Thornton, who co-founded Mostly Books, in Stert Street, with husband Mark 10 years ago, beat four other shortlisted writers to win The Times Chicken House children’s fiction competition.

She said: "Up until now writing has been a hobby but I guess that will change - I can't wait to see the book when it is published.

"I have always had a passion for writing - I have worked on a few other children's stories before this one - and I'm hoping there will be a sequel to The Firefly Cage.

"I got the idea for the story from speaking to customers in the bookshop - everyone finds the magical world fascinating.

"I think if you like writing as much as I do you will always find the time to do it, even if it's just 10 minutes here and there."

Mr Thornton, 46, said: "I am extremely proud that Nicki has won – we couldn’t quite believe it.

“She was delighted to be shortlisted – we were very happy that she reached that stage because a few years ago she was only longlisted.

"I am extremely proud of Nicki – she helps out in the shop, raises our two children, and has found the time to write a book."

The shop is marking its 10th anniversary next month with a joint event with Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath.

Mr Thornton added: "We are going to link up with them for the celebrations next month and we are very honoured to work with them."

Over the past decade the Thorntons have staged a series of events at the store including author signings and book group meetings.

Some of the events have been held in the store, while others have been staged at other venues around the town.

Mr and Mrs Thornton live with their two boys Alex, 12, and Timothy, nine.

Mrs Thornton, who is in her forties, added: "The boys haven't read The Firefly Cage yet but they are very keen to read it."