Alexandria author and emergency-room physician Melissa Yuan-Innes has been nominated for the Staunch Book Prize for best international feminist thriller for her short story My Two-Legs.

The author – who writes under the pen name Melissa Yi – notes the story is a departure from her regular writing style. Best known for medical thriller novels, Yuan-Innes this time uses her writing skills to bring to life the point of view of a dog named Star, who is trapped in a car after her owner disappears. Star has to escape the vehicle, find her human owner and solve the mystery of who tried to kill him.

The story is told as viewed through the dog’s eyes, which presented a challenge for a writer used to dealing with human characters. The idea came about from an exercise Yuan-Innes was given for a writing class, and at first she was unsure how to approach the format.

“I don’t have any other dog protagonist stories,” laughed Yuan-Innes, in an interview with The Review Monday. “It was really a challenge to tell a story from the point of view of someone who doesn’t speak with words and doesn’t have opposable thumbs, but is trapped inside a car.”

The Staunch Prize was launched in 2018 by British author and editor Bridget Lawless to promote thrillers which do not portray violence against women. My Two-Legs was named to the long list for the Staunch Book Prize for Short Stories, which is for works between 500-3500 words. The nominees will be pared down to a short list on October 1, and the winner will be announced on October 12. A complete list of nominees can be found here.

My Two-Legs is currently unpublished but, Yuan-Innes – who is an emergency room physician at Glengarry Memorial Hospital – has submitted the work to several publishing houses and hopes it will be available to readers soon. Melissa Yi’s medical thriller novels, featuring main character Hope Sze, have won a number of awards over the years. All of Yuan-Innes’ works can be found on her webpage.