Scottish Book Trust Announces Recipient of Next Chapter Award 2018
An aspiring author from the Southside of Glasgow has been announced as the recipient of Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2018. The prize supports a talented yet unpublished writer over the age of 40, for whom finding time and space to write has proved especially challenging.
The 2018 awardee is Ryan O’Connor, 45, from Glasgow. Born in Falkirk, Ryan left when he was 15 years old, to go travelling on his own through Europe and the USA and never returned home.
His first book, The Speed of Falling, was written when he was aged 20. It was praised by several publishers and accepted by Polygon, however Ryan subsequently turned down the offer of publication and moved to Toulouse, France.
More recently he came close to having his novel, Blip, accepted for publication, however personal circumstances prevented him from seeing the work through to the level required for publication.
Ryan’s first love is poetry, which he continues to write. He is currently working on completing his second novel.
Having already completed several pieces of writing, receiving the Next Chapter Award has convinced Ryan that it’s time to give up his work as a waiter and concentrate full-time on writing.
The Next Chapter Award, run by Scottish Book Trust, the national charity transforming lives through reading and writing, is aimed at writers aged over 40 who wish to develop a specific piece of work to publication standard, and applicants must demonstrate genuine potential for publication.
The Next Chapter Award will provide Ryan with a £2000 bursary, nine months of mentoring and two weeks on retreat at creative writing centre Moniack Mhor, with the aim of developing his novel to publication standard.
Commenting on the award, Ryan O’Connor said:
“At some point we all need a little acknowledgement, a shot in the arm. Receiving the Next Chapter Award from Scottish Book Trust is that and much more. It is an honour and fantastic opportunity.”
Previous awardees of the Next Chapter Award include Gail Honeyman, recipient of the inaugural award in 2014. Her debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, was published last year and has since won the Costa First Novel Book Award 2017, become a Sunday Times bestseller, and is being turned into a film by Reese Witherspoon’s production company.
Commenting on the impact of the Next Chapter Award, Gail Honeyman said:
“I was delighted to be selected as the first recipient of the Next Chapter Award. I received lots of incredibly useful, practical support and advice throughout the year, for which I'm very grateful. It was a fantastic experience.”
Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:
“Congratulations to Ryan O’Connor on his Next Chapter Award, following in the footsteps of Gail Honeyman, Robert Neil Fraser and Julie Rea. Scottish Book Trust will support Ryan on the next step of his journey to publication, offering both the precious time to write, and a peaceful place to do so.”
An extract of Ryan O’Connor’s work:
I was living on the fourteenth floor of a condemned high-rise. I was on my own up there and one of the few remaining tenants. The others, a couple of pensioners who hadn’t walked on terra-firma for years and an eccentric who shared his flat with a flock of pigeons, lived many floors below me. I never saw them. The only people I saw on a regular basis were the heroin addicts, though they never made it near the fourteenth floor. Desperate for their fix, they’d shoot up as soon as they entered the building and were usually too strung out to make it up more than a few flights of stairs. I’d pass them gouching on a landing or dragging themselves up the stairwell, emaciated, dying of a thirst that would never be quenched, like pilgrims lost in the desert. One of them did make it to the seventh floor once. He was nodding off as I came down the stairs towards him. Hearing my footsteps, he looked up and asked, ‘Am I there? Have I made it?’
‘Where?’ I asked.
‘The top of the world,’ he replied.
I didn’t want to lie to a dying man. At the same time, I didn’t have the heart to break his high and what was left of his spirit by explaining he’d only managed to crawl a third of the way up a condemned high-rise, ‘Nearly, you’re headed in the right direction, just keep going,’ I told him. The fire in him had almost been extinguished, I half expected to see it flicker and burn out right there and then. Instead, a beautiful smile lit up his ravaged face and illuminated the entire high-rise. I’d seen him a few times before, but after that day I never saw him again.
For all media enquiries, please contact Press Officer Keara Donnachie: Keara.Donnachie@scottishbooktrust.com or 0131 524 0184.
Notes to Editors
Scottish Book Trust
Scottish Book Trust is a national charity changing lives through reading and writing. We inspire and support the people of Scotland to read and write for pleasure though programmes and outreach work that include:
• Gifting books to every child in Scotland to ensure families of all backgrounds can share the joy of books at home.
• Working with teachers to inspire children to develop a love of reading, creating innovative classroom activities, book awards and author events.
• Supporting Scotland’s diverse writing community with our training, awards and writing opportunities.
• Funding a range of author events for the public to enjoy and promoting Scottish writing to people worldwide.