A "REAL Clay Country girl" could be propelled to the ranks of international writers after winning a publishing deal.
Teresa Stepping, from Penwithick, who writes under the name Teresa Bassett, said she was "absolutely thrilled" to have won the US literary competition – beating other hopeful authors from around the globe.
Teresa, 52, said she could not believe her dream to become a published author had taken a step closer to becoming a reality after her novel The Time Crystals won the Next Novelist competition last week.
It took two years for the former freelance writer, who left her job at the Eden Project in 2011 to concentrate on writing, to pen the mystery story, which is aimed at young adults and set in Cornwall.
A delighted Teresa told the Cornish Guardian: "I'm really over the moon and so grateful to the Cornish Guardian and your readers for their fantastic support. Thank you to everyone."
Although there's a happy ending to this tale, Teresa added that it was also the start of a new chapter in her long quest to become a published author.
"I hadn't really thought about what happens next because I was so focused on whether I'd win," she said.
"It's not really sunk in yet," she added.
After her book was whittled down to the final two, out of eight hopefuls, through a public vote, Teresa went on to secure the public's support again and take the Next Novelist title – securing votes from people as far afield as Japan, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
She wins a full publishing deal and a $5,000 advance, which is equivalent to £3,109 sterling.
Teresa said: "It's impossible to explain how much this means to me but I'm absolutely thrilled."