A civil servant who has never been published before could scoop the Costa Short Story Award.

The shortlist for the £3,500 award was judged anonymously, without the names of the authors being known.

Civil servant Chris Hunter, 32, from London, is shortlisted for When The Bell Tolls, an unpublished, diarised account of a walk that he and two friends made from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Chris Hunter (Costa Book Awards)Chris Hunter (Costa Book Awards)

Luan Goldie, a primary school teacher, is also shortlisted for her story Two Steak Bakes And Two Chelsea Buns.

The ex-business journalist, who lives in London, has penned several short stories and recently completed her first novel.

Luan Goldie (Costa Short Story Awards)Luan Goldie (Costa Short Story Awards)

Prize-winning Scottish writer Frances Ainslie completes the list of finalists for The Dying Time.

The Costa Short Story Award is run in association with the Costa Book Awards but judged independently.

The prize is open to published and unpublished writers for a single, previously unpublished short story written in English.

The winner, decided through a public vote, will be announced on January 30.