Two Nairn Teens Chosen for National Writing Project

Category: Press Releases

Two teenagers from Nairn have been selectedby Scottish Book Trust to work on a project aimed at increasing opportunities for young people to access and contribute to literary culture across Scotland.

Sarah Cairney (14) an aspiring short story and creative non-fiction writer, and Finn Macdonald (15), an aspiring novel writer, applied and were accepted to work with eight other young people on the national What’s Your Story? project. The first nationwide programme of its kind in Scotland, What’s Your Story? will create a two-day creative writing conference in June 2016, a network of young writers/illustrators groups across Scotland, and an online resource to embolden and support Scotland’s teenage writers. These resources will be developed by the ten teen participants, in collaboration with Scottish Book Trust and partners, for other young writers throughout Scotland. The teen participants are also being professionally mentored in their chosen forms and genres, and will be showcasing work completed during their mentorship on the programme at the two-day conference.

The group of ten teenagers, who represent many different genres of writing, includes a screenwriter, a pair of poets, two non-fiction writers of travelogues and life stories, a novelist and two short story writers. A Gaelic poet and a graphic novelist complete the round-up.

Speaking about the project, Sarah said:

“Some teachers told me about it and it sounded really interesting so I just went for it. I think just meeting people that do the same thing as you, that’s really good. That’s really important.”

Finn commented:

“I applied because I think it would be great to get experience from someone who works as a writer and makes a living from it. It’s all very exciting. It’s nerve-wracking as well, but it’ll be fun.”

Nicole Brandon, Young Writers Co-ordinator at Scottish Book Trust said:

“The enthusiasm for creative writing and illustration shown by our ten teens in the initial weeks of the programme has been both extraordinary and joyous. Their faith in the ability of literature to inspire adventure, empathy and imagination has given What’s Your Story? phenomenal momentum, and we cannot wait to showcase their contributions to Scotland’s literary and creative culture.

“Their passion and conviction only reaffirms that young people have always deserved to be a part of our literary culture as creators and critics – not resigned to a default role as consumers. As access points to that side of our creative culture, Scotland’s literary organisations have a responsibility to help them get involved. It’s our privilege to follow the lead of our teenage participants and create new and fruitful opportunities for them and their peers to connect with each other, grow in confidence and ability, and collaborate to create their own new facet to Scotland’s literary culture.”

Colin Bradie, TTS Programme Manager, Creative Scotland:

"We are delighted to be supporting this important initiative that will nurture and celebrate the talents and ambitions of young writers and illustrators across Scotland.  A key element of Time to Shine, Scotland's national youth arts strategy, this ambitious project will look to ensure young people are playing a key role in inspiring and shaping wider youth engagement."

What’s Your Story? is funded by Time to Shine, Creative Scotland’s arts strategy for young people, and is intended to celebrate and nurture the talent and ambition of young writers and illustrators of all backgrounds, connect them with others across the country who hold similar interests, and help them shape the future of literature in Scotland. The support of The Gaelic Books Council has aided this goal through specific provision for a teen participant working in Gaelic.

The judging team, including two teenage members of Youth Arts Voice Scotland, and representatives from Creative Scotland, The Gaelic Books Council and Scottish Book Trust carefully reviewed 50 entries from around Scotland before selecting the final ten. Participants were selected on the enthusiasm and dedication they expressed for teenage participation in creative and literary culture.

More information about What’s Your Story? is availableat and throughout 2016 at


Photos of Sarah and Finn are available on request from

The full list of the What’s Your Story? participants is as follows:

Leonie Findlay (16), Gordon in Scottish Borders, Screenwriting

Scott Thomson (15), Tobermory on Mull, Short Stories

Mikaela Carmichael (16), Edinburgh, Gaelic Poetry

Ribh O’Neill (14), Cove Bay in Aberdeen, Travelogue & Novels

Sarah Cairney (14), Nairn, Short Stories & Creative Non-Fiction

Katie Luxmoore (15), Tayvallich in Argyll, Novels & Short Stories

Finn Macdonald (15), Nairn, Novels

Anni Cameron (17), Edinburgh, Poetry

Erin Morrissey Gillman (17), Newport-on-Tay in Fife, Poetry

Caitlyn Bannatyne (17), Milton in West Dunbartonshire, Illustration & Graphic Novel

Notes to Editors:

  • Scottish Book Trust is a national charity changing lives through reading and writing. Scottish Book Trust believes that books and reading have the power to change lives. As a national charity, we inspire and support the people of Scotland to read and write for pleasure.
    - We give free books to every child in Scotland to ensure families of all backgrounds can share the joy of books at home.
    - We work with teachers to inspire children to develop a love of reading, creating innovative classrooms activities, book awards and author events programme.
    - We support Scotland’s diverse writing community with our training, awards and writing opportunities
    - We fund a range of author events for the public to enjoy and promote Scottish writing to people worldwide
    - We work for a Scotland where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive through literacy.


  • Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here.  We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life.  We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit  Follow us @creativescots and
  • About Time to Shine: Published on 8 November 2013, Scotland's first National Youth Arts Strategy, Time to Shine – which is centred around the three key themes of creating and sustaining engagement; nurturing potential and talent; and developing infrastructure and support - sets out a vision and key recommendations to enable Scotland’s children and young people to flourish and achieve, in and through the arts and creativity. For further information please visit:  Follow the latest from Time To Shine @TTSYoutharts.
  • The Gaelic Books Council is the lead organisation with responsibility for supporting Scottish Gaelic authors and publishers, and for raising the profile and reach of Scottish Gaelic Books in Scotland and internationally.

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