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New writer 2024: Amos O'Connor

Children's and YA

Amos O’Connor is a Portland-born writer and visual artist who works as a bookseller in Edinburgh. In 2022 he completed an MFA in creative writing from the University of St Andrews, and his short fiction and poetry have been published in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Gutter Magazine, Painted Bride Quarterly, Copper Nickel, and elsewhere. His writing tends to circle the queer uncanny, almost always with a touch of the absurd. He’s currently working on his first novel for young adults.

Writing sample

Right, thought Noah: this is a dream.

He looked around at the dark room. There were no windows. There was one small rug, one small table, a mouse-chewed armchair that smelled damp. In the wall behind him, an open door. He didn’t remember arriving here, but he could see the way he’d come: he’d stirred a lacy phosphorescence through the air, like the light that had fringed the breaking surf some summer nights at the coast.

He held a chamberstick fitted with a dirty finger-length of candle, and he stood beside a fireplace which by the candle’s little light he could see was smaller and plainer than the others in this house. Wind hummed in its chimney, persuasively. That was the voice he’d followed. On the mantelpiece where the chamberstick had been a disc of clean bare wood stood out against the shallow dust.

The voice in the chimney dipped for a moment, and he heard another sound: footsteps. The house-heart edged through the doorway, and Noah distrustfully drew aside as she came forward, peering this way and that.

“A room inside a room,” she said.

“Is it?” said Noah. “Where are we?”

“Through the fancy-wall. With the long, loud birds.”

Noah frowned, then understood. There was a chipped fresco of flying geese painted on the wall of the old morning room, where Miss Abbett’s music class was taught.

“I had not found this place,” she said, pinching gray tufts of stuffing through a hole in the back of the chair.

“Never?” he asked. “In all these years?”

“Never, never…”

“How did you find it tonight?”

You I found. You are easy to find.”

He gazed back at the lit path he’d made. The light wasn’t bright, but it hurt to look at: it raised a lump in his throat.

Amos says:

'I'm so honoured to have been chosen for this award! I’m deeply grateful to Scottish Book Trust for the recognition and encouragement, and for all the support the New Writers Award provides. I’m excited to meet the other awardees and to see what the year brings!'