AN author who dreamed up “an extraordinary first novel” during breaks from his job at the Bodleian Library has scooped a prestigious literary award.

Ali Shaw, who has now given up his administrative job at the library to become a full-time writer, won the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize, which celebrates the work of new authors.

The 27-year-old’s first novel, The Girl with Glass Feet, tells the tale of Ida MacLaird, who is slowly turning into glass from the feet up.

Mr Shaw, a former bookseller at Blackwell’s in Broad Street, was inspired to research fairy stories and folklore after reading Kafka’s novel Metamorphosis.

The judges said he would be a “substantial author of the future”.

He said: “I wrote most of the book while working full-time, so it took me a few years. I wrote the last chapter curled up in the Radcliffe Camera on my lunch break, which was a very nice place to have your writing desk.”

His book was picked from a literary agent’s “slush pile” of unsolicited manuscripts.

He said: “I've been very lucky, but it’s wonderful to have some recognition.

“This endorses a book that might otherwise fall down a crack between genres.”

Elizabeth Buchan, chairman of the judging panel, said: “This is an extraordinary first novel – bold, original, tragic and endlessly surprising.

“In its exploration of frozen landscapes, both interior and exterior, and in its precisely detailed and articulated fantasy, it is possible to see a substantial author of the future.”

The author, who lives in Binsey Lane, grew up in Dorset and graduated from Lancaster University with a first-class degree in English literature.

Mr Shaw is now finishing his second novel, which he says is equally fantastical.

He added: “It’s very different in tone. Instead of being wintry, it’s all about heat and dust.”

The prize was set up in honour of publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott, who died in August 2003.

He requested that his estate should be invested in a charitable trust to fund a literary award “to enrich the careers of new writers”.