I am a prize-winning historical novelist and short story writer, previously employed as a creative writing tutor. I grew up in Ulster at the height of the 'Troubles', but now live with my husband in the Scottish Borders.
I have received two awards for my debut historical novel, Turn of the Tide, published by Capercaillie Books:
- Historical Fiction Winner in the 2011 Harper Collins / Alan Titchmarsh People's Novelist Competition (pre-publication): click here for footage of it being discussed on the Alan Titchmarsh Show.
- The Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best First Time Author in the People’s Book Prize (May 2014). It is the first in a series, and is set in 16th century Scotland, following the fortunes of a fictional family trapped in a long-standing historic feud between two Lowland clans. The sequel A House Divided was published in October 2015 and long-listed for the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2016. A third volume is expected to be published late in 2017. My debut collection, Dust Blowing and Other Stories, includes stories which have won or been placed in international competitions and was launched at Berwick Literary Festival in October 2016.
The first of two novels based on the life of Katharina von Bora, the woman who became Martin Luther's wife, was released in October 2017, to coincide with the Luther 500 Anniversary, with the second book to follow in Autumn 2018. Katharina, although important in Reformation history, remains a shadowy and enigmatic figure, but one who deserves greater recognition. The research for the books was made possible by a travel grant from Creative Scotland.
About writer's work
Perhaps because of growing up in Ulster during the ‘Troubles’ I am particularly interested in the concept of living within conflict, and the pressures this places on family and on relationships, along with the resultant moral, ethical and emotional dilemmas. Although my Munro series is set in 16th century Scotland, the issues that it examines, including the tensions arising from diverse loyalties, tribalism and conflict of interests resonate in many parts of our modern world.
Most of my short stories are contemporary, but often their settings are as geographically distant from me as my novels are in time. They too often focus on issues arising from conflict situations or from economic, social, or emotional pressures. I was privileged to receive an Hawthornden Fellowship in September 2011 and in February of 2016 undertook a second Hawthornden Fellowship, enabling me to begin work on my third novel.
My recent credits for short stories include: Overall Winner Neil Gunn 2011, Chrysalis Prize 2010, and Winchester Short Story Prize 2009. I was shortlisted in the Booktown Writers Short Story competition and a finalist in the Tom Howard / John H Reid Fiction and Essay Contest 2014, and in 2012 was shortlisted in the Mslexia Short Story Competition 2012 and a finalist in the Historical Novel Society Short Story Competition. I was 3rd in the Rubery Short Story Competition 2013 and have been shortlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize, long-listed in the Historical Novel Society Short Story Competition 2014, long-listed for the Matthew Pritchard Award and the Fish One Page Prize, and am published in a range of magazines and anthologies in Britain and the USA.
Websites featuring the authorMargaret Skea's websiteFacebook
Current events and projects
I am happy to do readings, talks and workshops; formal or informal, interactive or straightforward presentations, in any venue or setting, including, but not restricted to, Book Festivals, Book Clubs, Libraries, Museums, and Community, Workplace or Corporate events. Examples of topics, events and groups worked with are detailed on the Events page of my website.
Publications in Anthologies:
Working Away in Border Voices on Scottish Borders and Beyond (2012)
Dust Blowing in Best of Winchester 2009
Moving On in Days Like This (SBT)
An article on the marriage of James VI to Anne Of Denmark. in Castles, Customs and Kings A compilation of essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of real life stories and tantalizing tidbits discovered while doing research for their own historical novels. From Queen Boadicea’s revolt to Tudor ladies-in-waiting, from Regency dining and dress to Victorian crime and technology, immerse yourself in the lore of Great Britain. Read the history behind the fiction and discover the true tales surrounding England’s castles, customs, and kings. Madison Street Publishing, September 2013, ISBN -10 0983671966 Available as both paperback and ebook.
The Price of Poplar in The Beggar at the Gate and other Stories. This collection of short historical fiction was selected from the many entries for the 2012 Historical Novel Society Short Story Award. All 12 writers showed outstanding ability. Historical Novel Society, September 2013, ASIN: B00EZSXUKU Available as ebook only at present.