INSPIRED by the city of dreaming spires, an Oxford University author has been shortlisted for one of the most prestigious children’s book awards.

Katherine Rundell is in the running to win the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2014 for her novel Rooftoppers.

The prize was created 10 years ago to champion new and emerging talent in children’s writing.

Ms Rundell has been nominated in the Children’s Fiction (five to 12) category alongside five other authors.

A Fellow of All Souls College, Ms Rundell said: “I’m absolutely thrilled. It’s just the most extraordinary feeling.

“When you write a book you have no idea if it’s any good and in fact you usually think it’s rubbish.

“So to hear people like Waterstones say it’s worth shortlisting is just wonderful.”

If she wins, Ms Rundell will receive a prize of £2,000.

She would then compete against the winners of the Picture Book and Teen Fiction categories to gain the overall title and an extra prize of £3,000.

She said: “It’s such an amazing prize. I’m keeping my fingers crossed but there are some stunning books on the list that have already done very well.”

Her second book, Rooftoppers, tells of shipwrecked Sophie as she searches Paris for her mother with help from the rooftoppers – urchins who live on the roofs of the city.

Ms Rundell, 26, admits that Oxford was a source of inspiration for the book.

She said: “Some of the more eccentric, professorial characters in the book were definitely inspired by some of my lecturers at All Souls. As for rooftopping, it’s been going on in Oxford for generations.

“I used to do it as an undergraduate. You feel like a living gargoyle. It’s wonderful.”

Ms Rundell is a supporter of the Oxford Mail’s Reading Campaign, to give children targeted help to improve reading skills.

She said: “Obviously all children’s authors have an economic interest in having all children being literate, but also all children’s authors remember what it’s like to read as a child.

“Books change your life. They kick down doors and roll out red carpets like nothing else can.

“I salute anything that improves children’s literacy.”