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New Writer 2021: Sally Costelloe

Children's and YA

Sally Costelloe headshot

Sally has written in some form or another all her life, whether for pleasure or professionally. She spent 20 years as a journalist and editor for tattoo art magazines. After leaving behind the world of relentless monthly deadlines a few years ago, she revived her love of writing fiction. She is currently editing the manuscript of her first children’s novel.

Sally is passionate about writing for the seven to ten age group as she feels that is when a life-long love of reading can begin. She bases the stories she writes in reality but with a real sense of adventure. Her characters deal with deep emotions—grief, loss, need, loneliness—but they find solace in nature and the company of animals as they expand their world and their horizons.

Sally lives on the Isle of Mull where she divides her time between writing, working part-time in a local shop, walking her border terrier and stopping to admire the view.

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

Writing sample

Faster and faster! Livvy urged Gemini onwards. Her eyes watered in the wind; her hair flew out behind her riding hat; her cheeks reddened with the cold. She rose out of the saddle as they cleared the small log and raced on down the bridle path. A wide grin spread across her face and she whooped loudly, confident no one was around to hear, and too happy to care if anyone did. She was free; free from school; free from the teasing and the taunts that made her dread each day and long for the bell that signalled her release.

Thin branches whipped against her arms. The trees were still bare. Last year’s leaves trampled to a firm mush on the ground; the new ones yet to appear. As they approached the end of the path, Livvy sat down in the saddle to slow Gemini’s pace. She gave her a pat and a quiet 'Good girl'.

Back home at Windfall Cottage, Livvy dismounted. She pushed open the wooden gate and took Gemini through. Then she made sure the latch was secured so it couldn’t blow open. She left Gemini outside the back door and went in the kitchen where her dad was making dinner. His grey hair and moth-munched green jumper were sprinkled with wood shavings from a busy day in his workshop. Livvy shrugged off her school bag.

'Hey, dad.'

'Hi, poppet. How was school? And how’s Gemini today?'

'She’s going beautifully. No sign of her lameness now.'

'Ah, you pumped up the tyres then! And what about school...?'

No answer. Livvy had already bounded up to her room, to draw and dream about horses. Until they could afford riding lessons, which was probably never, her beloved, slightly rusty pink bicycle was her substitute for the real thing.

Sally says:

'I am so excited to receive a New Writers Award. The support and mentoring will be invaluable as I hone my technique, settle into my style and hopefully edge towards publication. If my writing inspires just one child to carry on reading, that would be the ultimate achievement.'