Looking for more in Writing and Authors or New Writers Awards?

New Writer 2022: Armarna Forbes

Children's and YA

Raised in what remains of the American Old West, Armarna has always had a taste for the grim and macabre. Her horror short fiction has appeared in various publications, including a horror anthology called, Too Late; Didn't Run – Nope 2 (TL;DR Press) and Trigger Warnings.

In 2019, Armarna self-published her debut novel, Dead Remnants a Young Adult dark fantasy about a teenage ghost girl traversing the Denver afterlife. This novel was then featured in the Edinburgh-based publication, Teen Titles, in May 2020. Armarna placed in the 2019 Ink & Insights' Master category. She was also shortlisted for the New Writers Awards in 2020.

Always interested in unique world-building, her current project is a Young Adult slipstream novel merging both her American roots and her new forever-home, Scotland.

You can find Armarna on her website(this link will open in a new window) or on Goodreads(this link will open in a new window).

Writing sample

Content warning: please note that the following passage contains scenes of a graphic nature and death, suitable for older teens and adults.

They say it takes ten seconds for a severed head to lose consciousness. I've even read tales of them remaining fully aware, mouthing incoherent blather for upwards of a minute, but I've never witnessed that myself. However, I have seen teeth grind, eyes blink, and shocked expressions—long after the blade has been swung.

Ten seconds is an eternity. Something I'd never considered before I began my apprenticeship as an executioner.

More than a hundred display cabinets line the barracks hall. Inside each is a mounted skull. Precious renewable energy illuminates every furrow, scar, tusk and fang. For added drama, I suspect, though it's a ridiculous waste of resources. I hurry past, counting quietly—(ten, nine, eight)—a focusing method I use and, in this case, a sad attempt to avoid the dead stares of beasts—(seven, six, five)—of humans—(four, three, two)—and of those creatures somewhere in between.


The heads serve as a grim reminder of tonight's ceremony, an event I've dreaded ever since I first held a sword. The courtyard door isn’t much farther, and I sprint the last few steps until I'm outside where cool, salty air fills my lungs. I feel as though I can breathe again. The relief, although temporary, is welcome.

Armarna says:

'I was trembling for a good hour after receiving the call. I am incredibly honoured and grateful for this opportunity, especially considering how the competition is so very fierce. Thank you, Scottish Book Trust – I can't wait to see what the next year brings.'