A dark tale of family relationships has earned a Footscray writer a prestigious short story prize.

Barry Lee Thompson, above, wrote the first version of Their Cruel Routines a few years ago, recently revisiting the work for an entry in the Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize.

Thompson says he received valuable feedback on his story from fellow members of the Elwood Writers group, which he frequents fortnightly, despite his move to Footscray.

“It’s a story about a troubled family relationship. The original idea came during a visit to my own family in the UK. I was thinking about the various ways families can be dysfunctional,” he said.

Judges praised the “unnerving” story, an element Thompson was pleased came across. “I wanted it to be a bit dark, so I was pleased with the response. I like reading dark, anxiety-inducing material myself. I like to be challenged and exposed to edgy aspects of life.”

Thompson arrived in Melbourne in 2007, deciding he wanted to pursue a career as a short story writer. He believes this genre best suits the way his mind works.

“Ideas can come from an image, or from something I overhear on the street. The idea is only a starting point.”

Thompson is developing his first collection of fiction,

Broken Rules, funded via a Creative Victoria grant. The collection explores sexual identity and expression.

Their Cruel Routines is published in Overland 221, out now. Details: barryleethompson.com.