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New Writer 2021: Gillian Shearer


Gillian Shearer is a writer and poet based in the North East of Scotland. She writes in both English and Scots. She initially trained as a nurse and worked in the NHS for several years before studying English Literature at Aberdeen University as a mature student. She then went on to complete a PGDE in Secondary education and an MLitt in Creative Writing.

Her work has appeared in Southlight, Causeway/Cabhsair, Lallans and Northwords Now. In 2019 she facilitated a creative writing workshop for a local cancer charity and she was visiting creative writer at a local community group recording the voices and stories of north east folk. She is currently working on a novel based on the life of the Welsh war poet Alun Lewis as well as a collection of fictional/semi-autobiographical stories based in and around the north east coast of Scotland written in her native Scots.

When not writing she likes to take long walks in her beloved North East where she finds inspiration in the landscape of the Grampians, and the coastal villages and towns of North Aberdeenshire.

You can find her on Twitter(this will open in a new window).

Writing sample

Mony a mickle maks a muckle!

Suzie smiled. It had been one of her granny’s favourite sayings; that and whit’s for ye’ll no go by ye. Whatever that meant, thought Suzie. 

Suddenly she saw herself as she was then – a wee girl, scared of her own shadow. At school she’d been the butt of many a playground joke. The carrot-topped hair that stood up like straw had earned her the nickname Brillo Pad and her skinniness too, had brought out the worst in others. Skinnymalinky Sue.

When she’d run the length of the street she knew she’d be safe. Two more steps to granny’s door. I’d gie thaim fit for her granny said, dabbing away Suzie’s tears. Her granny belonged to the war generation and cuidnae thole bullies. Hitler wis the biggest bully o thaim aa.

They’d have their supper in front of the fire. Suzie snuggled up at her granny’s feet. Twa fish suppers, newspaper staining her fingers inky black. Then it was five to five. Telly on. 

Crack-er-Jack! Suzie would roar. And granny would shake her head and sigh, nae again. Then she’d pick up her knitting. She’d been working on a scarf for Suzie. And though she’d been working on it for months now, it never seemed to get any bigger. She was forever picking it up and putting it down. Suzie knew it was because her granny had trouble wi her hauns.

Rheumatics her granny would say, loosening her joints one by one. The click, click of her knuckles echoing the click, click of the needles.

Are they sair granny?

Suzie would gaze in wonder at her granny’s hands. The fingers moving like wands. The needles catching the light of the fire as if some strange alchemy moved within them.

Magic thought Suzie.

Gillian says:

'I still can’t believe it! I’m so honoured to be selected for a New Writers Award. To move that bit closer to completing my novel with the support of the Scottish Book Trust is a dream come true.'