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Press release: Scottish writers receive New Writers Award

Scottish Book Trust announces its 2024 New Writers Awardees

Group shot of the New Writers Awardees 2024

Eleven up-and-coming authors from across Scotland have today (Wednesday 21 February) been announced as recipients of Scottish Book Trust’s 2024 New Writers Award.

Every year Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives with reading and writing, holds the prestigious year-long writer development programme to support burgeoning writers living in Scotland. As well as a £2,000 cash award, they will receive mentorship from writers and industry professionals, a week-long retreat, and opportunities to showcase work to publishing industry professionals.

This year’s awardees are Gaelic teachers and writers Kristina Nicolson and Iain Cuimeanach, writer and visual artist Amos O’Connor, spoken word artist John Lawrie, Shetland researcher Siún Carden, Scots language writer Ross Crawford, essayist and novelist Sarah Whiteside, novelist Katherine Hudson, musician and novelist Les Hodge, poet Pip Osmond-Williams, and children’s author Taslin Pollock.

The New Writers Award has made an extraordinary impact on publishing since its launch in 2009. From the 177 awardees who have gone through the programme up to 2023, 76 have had their work published, with a total of 183 books going out into the world. Previous awardees include Graeme Macrae Burnet whose 2015 novel His Bloody Project was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Gail Honeyman, whose bestselling novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine won Scottish Book Trust’s The Next Chapter Award.

Titles published in 2022 and 2023 included Martin MacInnes, whose novel In Ascension was longlisted for The Booker Prize 2023, and Victoria MacKenzie’s For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain, which was the winner of the Scottish National First Book Awards 2023.

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:

‘It’s always incredible to meet our awardees for the New Writers Award, and I’d like to offer my congratulations to this year’s cohort, each of whom have demonstrated exceptional writing.

‘With our awardees exploring a rich variety of themes in their work, and writing in English, Gaelic and Scots, I am excited to follow their journey throughout the year and beyond, as we help to nurture and build on their talents.’

Harriet MacMillan, Literature Officer at Creative Scotland, said:

‘Every year, the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writers Award identifies unique and compelling new literary voices. This latest list of talent is no different, featuring a fantastic array of emerging writers spanning a broad range of mediums and celebrating Scots and Gaelic language.

‘The programme is an incredible departure point into professional writing, offering an invaluable package of support, mentorship and industry guidance. The impressive roster of notable alumni serves as a testament to the programme’s success and we’re all so excited to see what this latest cohort will go on to achieve.’

Alison Lang, Director of the Gaelic Books Council, said:

‘Tha Comhairle nan Leabhraichean toilichte a bhith ag obair ann an co-bhanntachd le Urras Leabhraichean na h-Alba a-rithist airson cothrom a thoirt do dh’Iain agus Kristina. Thairis air na bliadhnaichean a tha an sgeama seo air a bhith a’ ruith, tha tàlant nan sgrìobhadairean ùra air a bhith na adhbhar moit is dòchais dhuinn, agus tha sinn an dùil nach bi e fada mus faic sinn na sgeulachdan cloinne aig Kristina agus na sgeulachdan goirid aig Iain ann an clò mar thoradh air an taic a gheibh iad sa bhliadhna a tha romhainn.’

‘The Gaelic Books Council is pleased to be partnering with Scottish Book Trust once again to provide this opportunity to Iain and Kristina. Over the years this programme has been running, the talent displayed by the new writers has been a source of pride and encouragement, and we hope it won’t be long before we see Kristina’s children’s stories and Iain’s short fiction appearing in print as a result of the support they will receive during the coming year.’

Biographies and quotes from the writers

Kristina Nicolson

Kristina Nicolson (32) is a Gaelic teacher from Glasgow who is writing a series of children's books based on Gaelic songs. Kristina was brought up surrounded by Gaelic music and culture, which remains an important part of her family life to this day. She lived in Australia for ten years where she studied English literature and sociology at the University of Adelaide. While it was a fantastic experience living overseas, she missed her Scottish culture and heritage and decided to come home.

She is now teaching Gaelic to children in Glasgow and is delighted that both her children are immersed in the language as well.

Kristina says: ‘I'm absolutely delighted to have received a New Writers Award! I am grateful for the support I will receive thanks to this award and looking forward to creating more children's literature and sharing some Scottish culture and traditional music with children.’

Amos O’Connor

Amos O’Connor (29) 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.

Amos says: ‘I'm so honoured to have been chosen for this award! I’m deeply grateful to the 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!’

Instagram: @a_oconnor_(this link will open in a new window)

John Lawrie

John Lawrie (31) is a writer and spoken word artist from Edinburgh. He initially studied psychology at university, but quickly realised that spoken word and poetry allowed him to hog more of the spotlight and involved much less maths. With a primary focus on identity, relationships and mental health, he delights in finding the humour and the horror in the everyday world. John has performed virtually and in person across Scotland, being a regular performer with Loud Poets, and Push the Boat Out. He is currently working on his debut poetry collection.

John says: ‘Wildly grateful doesn't cut it. I am deeply appreciative to the Scottish Book Trust for this opportunity and am incredibly excited to make the most of this opportunity to grow and develop as an artist.’

Instagram: @poet_lawrieate(this link will open in a new window)

Iain Cuimeanach (Cumming)

Iain Cuimeanach (Cumming) (48) is a Gaelic teacher in Wester Ross and the history, culture, people and landscape of the area provide a rich source of inspiration for him in his writing. His stories are often centred around moments of crisis. In the last few years, he has won several prizes at the National Mod for short stories and non-fiction articles and in the FilmG competition for script writing. One of his stories was published with an English translation in the magazine Southlight last year. Iain is very much looking forward to the opportunity and challenge that the New Writers Award will provide and writing on a more focussed, consistent basis.

Ian Cuimeanach (Cumming) says: ‘It is a real honour to receive a New Writers Award and I am grateful to Comhairle nan Leabhraichean and The Scottish Book Trust for this opportunity. I am very much looking forward to working with a mentor, to having time dedicated to writing and to seeing how my work evolves over the course of the year and beyond. I have gained so much from Gaelic literature and hope that I will be able to make my own small contribution to it.’

Siún Carden

Siún Carden (41), originally from County Down, lives in Shetland and works as a Research Fellow at UHI Shetland's Centre for Island Creativity. One of the reasons she moved from Belfast to Shetland in 2016 was because of her fascination with knitting, which some of her academic writing examines. Her research also includes arts-based work with care-experienced young people.

Her poetry has appeared in places like Magma (the Climate Change issue), The Tangerine, Glasgow Review of Books, Northwords Now and The New Shetlander. Her first poetry pamphlet, Tract, was published by The Well Review in 2023. She is a lead reader with Open Book and helps to organise Shetland's North Star Cabaret events.

Siún says: ‘Hearing I'd received a New Writers Award was so hard to believe that I didn't tell anyone until the official paperwork arrived, in case I'd dreamed it. It's an amazing opportunity and I'm looking forward to learning a lot this year.’

Twitter (X): @S_Carden(this link will open in a new window)

Instagram: @siuncarden(this link will open in a new window)

Ross Crawford

Ross Crawford (34) is a scriever fae East Ayrshire wha noo bides in Stirlin. He’s goat a PhD in Scottish Historie fae the University ae Glesga. Scrievin maistly in Scots, he’s upsteirit by the historie, nature, an fowklore ae Scotland, inspeciallie the rural landscapes ae Ayrshire, the Trossachs, an the West Hielans. He’s interestit in explorin baith the historic resonance an modren relevance ae the Scots leid.

His short stories huv bin furthset by Eemis Stane, Soor Ploom Press, Thi Wurd, Product, The Milk House an Lemon Peel Press amang ithers. His poetry hus featured in Lallans, Dreich, an Razur Cuts. He wis shortlistit fur the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2022 an 2023.

Ross Crawford (34) is a writer from East Ayrshire who now lives in Stirling. He has a PhD in Scottish History from the University of Glasgow. Writing mostly in Scots, he takes inspiration from the history, nature, and folklore of Scotland, especially the rural landscapes of Ayrshire, the Trossachs, and the West Highlands. He is interested in exploring both the historic resonance and modern relevance of the Scots language.

His short stories have been published by Eemis Stane, Soor Ploom Press, Thi Wurd, Product, The Milk House and Lemon Peel Press among others. His poetry has featured in Lallans, Dreich, and Razur Cuts. He was shortlisted for the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2022 and 2023.

Ross says: ‘Sae hertgled tae receive this award, it’s an honour and privilege. Jist aboot faintit when A heard the news! A’m awfa gratefou tae the Scottish Book Trust fur aw thur support and cannae wait fur a guid year ae scrievin aheid!’

‘So delighted to receive this award, it’s an honour and privilege. Just about fainted when I heard the news! I’m really grateful to the Scottish Book Trust for all their support and can’t wait for a good year of writing ahead!’

Twitter (X): @RRMCrawford(this link will open in a new window)

Sarah Whiteside

Sarah Whiteside (47) is a writer originally from Norfolk, and currently living in Portobello, Edinburgh. Her work has appeared in Ambit, The Letters Page, Brittle Star, New Writing Scotland and Gutter Magazine. She holds an MLitt in creative writing from the University of St Andrews, as well as an MSc in Music Therapy from QMU. In 2022 she was awarded an Open Fund grant from Creative Scotland to support her to write a novel called Auditorium. This laid the foundation for an ongoing interest in writing on motherhood, music and neurodiversity, subjects she is currently exploring again through a series of personal essays.

Sarah says: ‘I was delighted and surprised to hear my work has been selected for a New Writers Award. I’m looking forward to meeting the other writers, as well as having time and space to develop my writing. I can’t wait to get started!’

Katherine Hudson

Katherine Hudson (46) is an Edinburgh-based writer who grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne. After studying for a degree in politics, she moved to Scotland and has worked in social research and public policy roles. Writing has always been a big part of her day job, but she has also been an occasional writer of fiction, and more recently has focused on developing this. Her writing explores ideas of art, place, and how we come to terms with the past, personally and collectively. She is currently working on her first novel, set in Edinburgh and Berlin.

Katherine says: ‘It’s a real honour to be chosen for a New Writers Award and I’m very grateful to the Scottish Book Trust and the judges. The programme of support that is offered is fantastic and I’m looking forward making the most of it and developing my writing over the coming year.’

Twitter (X): @KatherineH135 (this link will open in a new window)

Les Hodge

Les Hodge is an Edinburgh-based writer, originally from Fife. As a musician, he was part of the writing and production team behind Coco and The Bean. He co-wrote and co-produced all the Edinburgh act's tunes – released first on Baghdad Radio Records and later on Beggars Banquet.

Les also produced for York-based hip-hop outfit New Flesh and wrote for Leeds vocalist Gwen Esty’s neo-soul project Harmonized. Later he went on to both write and perform as part of the Mystikman spoken-word project Alien Paradise. He is currently working on his first novel.

Les says: ‘I’m very grateful to be getting a New Writers Award and I'm looking forward to the coming year – to meeting, working with and learning from a range of people involved in the world of writing. It's a fantastic opportunity not only to develop my own skills as a writer but also to get a wider understanding of how the whole book business itself operates.’

Twitter (X): @hodgeless(this link will open in a new window)

Pip Osmond-Williams

Pip Osmond-Williams (31) is a poet and researcher originally from north-west England and now living in Perth. Her poems have been published in Gutter, Poetry Scotland, Northwords Now, From Glasgow to Saturn and Channel, and have been anthologised in New Writing Scotland (ASLS, 2019) and Island and Sea (Scottish Writers’ Centre, 2020). In 2020 she was shortlisted for Wigtown Festival’s Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize and the following year won the Brian Dempsey Memorial Prize for her debut pamphlet Of Algae & Grief, which was selected as Poetry Book Society’s Spring Pamphlet Choice in 2022. In 2019 Pip was awarded a PhD from the University of Glasgow for her thesis ‘Changing Scotland: The social history of love in the life and work of Edwin Morgan’. She is co-editor of The Collected Published Poetry of William Soutar (Tippermuir, 2024) and co-edits the online magazine The Bottle Imp.

Pip Osmond-Williams says: ‘I'm delighted to receive a New Writers Award – it's a real honour and I'm immensely grateful to the Scottish Book Trust for giving me the opportunity to focus on and develop my work, as well as to connect with the wider poetry community.’

Twitter (X): @meadow_pipit(this link will open in a new window)

Instagram: @pip_ow(this link will open in a new window)

Taslin Pollock

Taslin Pollock (44) is a British-born South Asian writer of contemporary middle grade fiction who lives with her family in Falkirk. Her stories celebrate her culture and her heritage with heart and a sprinkle of humour. Her first ever piece of children’s writing was as a competition entry to the Falkirk Writing Rammy after seeing the poster on the library window. Afterwards, she was awarded a place on The Scottish Book Trust ‘Introduction to Writing for Children’ course, and she’s never looked back.

She is an alumnus of the 2023 All Stories Mentorship Programme and the 2022 HarperCollins Author and Design Academy – programmes supporting aspiring writers from underrepresented backgrounds. Her writing has been shortlisted for the Searchlight Best Novel Opening Award and the Golden Egg Award. Her short story The Reluctant Adventurer was published in Scotland’s Stories: Adventure for Book Week Scotland in 2023.

Taslin says: ‘It is an absolute honour to be a recipient of the New Writers Award and I am extremely grateful to the Scottish Book Trust for this fantastic opportunity. I am keen to continue learning and developing my writing craft in the hope of one day sharing my stories with young readers.’

Twitter (X): @taslinp(this link will open in a new window)

Instagram: @tpollockstoryteller(this link will open in a new window)

Notes to editors

Please direct all media requests to Caroline Young, Marketing and PR Manager at Scottish Book Trust at caroline.young@scottishbooktrust.com(this link will open in a new window).

Download photos: https://scottishbooktrust.chorus.thirdlight.com/link/zc80ytqof6zl-vh8vsf(this link will open in a new window)

Credit: Rob McDougall

Please note, two of the writers were not able to appear in the group photo – Iain Cuimeanach and Sarah Whiteside.

Scottish Book Trust is a national charity that believes everyone living in Scotland should have equal access to books. Our work provides opportunities to improve life chances through books and the fundamental skills of reading and writing. Access to books and a love of books bring many important benefits from family bonding and advancing children’s learning, to unlocking creativity, helping employability and improving mental health and wellbeing. Scottish Book Trust aims to support all communities across Scotland, with particular focus on those who are vulnerable and under-represented.

Our programmes and outreach work include:

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland distributing funding provided by the Scottish Government and The National Lottery. Further information can be found at creativescotland.com(this link will open in a new window) or on Twitter(this link will open in a new window), Facebook(this link will open in a new window) and Instagram.(this link will open in a new window) Learn more about the value of art and creativity in Scotland and join in at www.ourcreativevoice.scot(this link will open in a new window)

Comhairle nan Leabhraichean (The Gaelic Books Council) is the lead organisation with responsibility for Gaelic writing and publishing, and for raising the profile and reach of Scottish Gaelic books in Scotland and internationally. Established in 1968, Comhairle nan Leabhraichean is a registered charity and receives funding from Creative Scotland and from Bòrd na Gàidhlig to support its programme of grants, professional training and events.

Find us online at gaelicbooks.org(this link will open in a new window), @LeughLeabhar(this link will open in a new window) on Twitter and at facebook.com/ComhairleNanLeabhraichean(this link will open in a new window).

In addition to the funding we receive from the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland, we need the constant support of trusts and foundations, corporate sponsors and individual donors.

Find us online at scottishbooktrust.com(this link will open in a new window). Follow @scottishbktrust on Twitter(this link will open in a new window), @scottishbooktrust on Instagram(this link will open in a new window) or like Scottish Book Trust's Facebook page(this link will open in a new window).