Harrison received several rejection letters before finding a publisher
Debut author Michelle Harrison has been named winner of the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize, with her fairy story The 13 Treasures.
Harrison, 29, wrote the first few chapters of her book, about a teenage girl who can see fairies, while at Stafford College in 2002.
Waterstones said the "brilliantly imaginative" novel was set to be one of the biggest debuts of 2009.
Harrison, who lives in Oxford, won £5,000 at a ceremony in London.
Sarah Clarke, Waterstone's children's manager, said the novel would "charm and enthral a generation of readers".
Harrison's book has already been sold in the US, Germany, Greece, Italy, Russia, Serbia and Spain, and has drawn comparisons with The Spiderwick Chronicles and the classic fairy tales of The Brothers Grimm.
Caroline Horn, children's news editor of The Bookseller, said: "The 13 Treasures is an inventive fairy story that makes you glad you can't see fairies!
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"Michelle Harrison is a great new talent and I'll be looking out for her next book."
Harrison, who works as an editorial assistant in children's publishing and is also a keen illustrator, beat books by seven other authors to the prize.
The others were How Kirsty Jenkins Stole The Elephant by Elen Caldecott; Zelah Green Queen Of Clean by Vanessa Curtis; Changeling by Steve Feasey; Gnomes Are Forever by Ceci Jenkinson; Lady In The Tower by Marie-Louise Jensen; The Mapmaker's Monster by Rob Stevens; and Numbers by Rachel Ward.