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New Writer 2023: Hannah McDonald

Callan Gordon Award: Fiction

Hannah McDonald headshot

Hannah McDonald is a writer and English teacher from the Southside of Glasgow. She graduated with Distinction in 2021 from the MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. Her writing focuses on relationships, identity, and concepts of place and belonging. Hannah is also interested in fictionalising oral histories of working-class communities in the West of Scotland; this was the focus of her MLitt dissertation.

One of these stories was included in 'Scotland's Stories', published for Book Week Scotland 2023. Her work has been featured in a number of other publications such as Gutter Magazine, SPAM Zine, The Common Breath's 'Middle of a Sentence', Epoch Press, and New Writing Scotland, and she has also performed her work at various events such as Queer Theory and SPAM’s Summer Bummer.

Writing sample

Extract from 'Last Night', originally published in Gutter Magazine.

'When the time came to choose his time, George decided to die at the end of September. He liked the cooler weather coming in, but it was too early for the changing of the leaves; he didn't want to see the beginning of autumn if he couldn't see the end of it. The summer was hot, and it crept onwards until I felt a change in the air and knew we didn't have long left. 

We had made a plan two months before, but still I asked him what he wanted to do when we woke up on that final day. I was secretly hopeful that he would have changed his mind. I wanted him to say, I'm not ready. Snooze the alarm. Let's have another day. 

'I want us to have our breakfast in the garden.' This was item number one on his list. 'But first, let’s cuddle.' He turned onto his back with some difficulty and opened his arm towards me. I moved into the side of his body, resting my head on his chest and wrapping my arm around his concave stomach. We had a special name for this position; we called it 'the nook'. I closed my eyes and focused on the sensation of my head rising and falling, trying to tune out the rasping sound of his breathing. I thought of all the times we had been in this position, in this house we'd lived in for thirty years, and in every flat and room we had been in before. We had lived a life together, and at the end of it all I was here, folded against him, in the nook where I had made a home.'

Hannah says:

'I'm absolutely ecstatic to have received a New Writers Award! It can be difficult to prioritise writing whilst also working full time, so I'm incredibly grateful for the support I will receive thanks to this award. It's also a privilege to have my writing be recognised in this way, and I'm really looking forward to getting started!'