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New Writer 2020: Eris Young

Fiction

Eris Young is a queer, transgender writer who uses their work to engage with trans issues and explore themes of otherness and outsiderhood. Eris is the writer in residence at Lighthouse, Edinburgh’s radical bookshop, and was named one of the 2019 List Hot 100 in the ‘books’ category. Eris was a 2018 Queer Words Project Scotland mentee, mentored by Kirsty Logan. Eris’s book, They/Them/Their: a Guide to Nonbinary and Genderqueer Identities, came out in September 2019 from Jessica Kingsley publishing.

Eris’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in magazines including Astral Waters, Shoreline of Infinity, Expanded Horizons and The Selkie, as well as the anthologies F, M or Other from Knight Errant Press, Uncanny Bodies published by Luna Press in 2020, and We Were Always Here from Saboteur Award-winning publisher 404 Ink. They were the managing editor at Æther/Ichor fantasy magazine from 2016 to 2020.

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Writing sample

Extract from ‘Meules’, from We Were Always Here, published by 404 Ink January 2019

The pilot’s hands and knees burn with cuts. At least she is out of the water. Someone — a line of bristling someones — picks its way down the jagged slope as she looks up it. Despite a thrill of fear the pilot thinks first of Monet’s Haystacks, of the one she saw with Ian at the National Gallery. Meules, the French word comes to her. It also means ‘millstone’. Ian had taken pains that she pronounce it correctly. Made a little lesson out of it. She thinks of the straw packed around eleven bottles of Ardbeg, cradled in the sinking fuselage of her Percival Proctor.

The pilot — or perhaps just Margaret now, with the Proctor making its languorous journey to the bottom of the North Sea — is taken scratchily under the arms. The rain lashes them all. How can these haystack people be so sure-footed, black stick feet lost in the mudgloom beneath those massive straw cloaks? They try to make her walk but she cannot, so they drag her up the path. Her vision goes dark.

There comes a period — days? — of intermittent wakefulness, and intermittent pain. She’s in a hard bed, scratchy blanket pulled to her chin. Drenched and shaking, she smells salt and algae and the inside of her own running nose. A stern-faced phantom sits beside her, holding a cup of something. The smell of it makes Margaret gag and she turns her face away. The phantom becomes Ian, looking on her with disapproval. He holds out the cup and she tries harder this time, struggling to make mouth and throat work in concert, but the broth won’t stay down. A murmur of worried voices consult above her and she tries to wave them off. This state is not new to her. She’s been through withdrawal before, and it will pass.

Eris says:

"I can already tell the New Writers Award is going to change everything for me: finally having time and guidance, and just having this evidence that I’m doing something right. That makes such a huge difference."