I live in a small fishing village in the east of Fife, surrounded by books and a sky full of seabirds. My day job is with the Open College of the Arts, teaching courses on fiction, poetry and life writing, and I’ve been tutoring for the University of St Andrews Creative Writing Summer School (aimed at 15-18 year olds) since 2010. I have an MLitt in Creative Writing and a PhD in English Literature, both from the University of St Andrews.
About writer's work
I am working on my first novel, Brantwood, based on several years in the life of the Victorian art critic and social reformer John Ruskin. I’m also putting together my first short story collection, Creaturely, which explores our connections with other species, both domestic and wild, as well as ways in which we ourselves are ‘creaturely’.
Writing awards include short-listing for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize (2017), a Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award (2016) and the Bridge Award for an Emerging Writer from Moniack Mhor (2015). Other prizes include the Robert McLellan Poetry Award, the Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition, and commendations in the William Soutar Prize and the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine. My writing has been published in journals and anthologies including Gutter, Magma, New Writing Scotland and The Book of Iona (Polygon, 2016).
I held the Emerging Writer Residency at Cove Park Artist Centre in 2014, and was awarded a place on Creative Carbon Scotland’s 2016 residential course, ‘Thinking Through the Anthropocene’, an interdisciplinary residency exploring artistic practice and sustainability. Also in 2016 I held a two-week residency at Timespan Museum & Arts Centre in Helmsdale, in order to explore the concept of ‘Deep Time’ in relation to my own creative practice. My PhD considered how poets engage with scientific ideas and I’m passionate about interdisciplinary work and collaborations.
I’ve read my work at the Ullapool Book Festival, The Scottish Poetry Library, The Kemptown Bookshop (Brighton), and the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writers Award Showcase.
I have also given talks for the ‘Retirement is Opportunity’ course and ‘Friday Evening Lecture’ series, which are both part of the University of St Andrews’ Open Association. Topics have included John Ruskin: His Life and Work, Contemporary Poetry and Science, Writers and their Letters, and Contemporary British Nature Writing.
Websites featuring the authorAuthor's WebsiteUniversity for the Creative Arts websiteOpen College of the Arts website
Current events and projects
I’m available for readings, Q&A sessions, workshops, one-to-one mentoring and residential courses. Recent workshops include ‘Flash Fiction’ at the Ilkley Literary Festival and ‘Writing and Walking’ at Sheffield’s ‘Off the Shelf’ Book Festival.
I enjoy teaching writers of all levels, from absolute beginners to those finalising their work for publication. I teach fiction, poetry and life writing (biography, autobiography, creative non-fiction), and have co-written courses for the Open College of the Arts (OCA) including ‘Foundations in Creative Writing’, aimed at those students with little or no writing experience.
I’ve given poetry workshops in schools on topics from Greek mythology to World War Two, and I’m happy to devise workshops/courses to fit with existing curricula and interests.
I also have an MA in Art History from the University of Sussex and teach on the OCA’s ‘Creative Arts Today’ course, where students write in response to contemporary art forms including painting, video, textiles, illustration, photography and graphic design. I’m keen to work with other practitioners and specialists to develop interdisciplinary workshops and courses, and I’m particularly interested in the visual arts, science and the natural world.
Along with a dozen writers, artists and scientists, I was a participant in ‘Loch Computer’, a project funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh which explored themes of remoteness and connectedness in Scotland and beyond. I was commissioned to write a short story for the subsequent anthology, The Book of Iona, and contributed text and a sound recording to the ‘Loch Computer’ exhibition at the Edinburgh College of Art in 2016.
I’ve also worked as a library assistant and taught English Literature at both undergraduate and Scottish Higher level. I’m a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of Scottish PEN.