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New Writer 2023: Sonali Misra

Children's and YA

Sonali Misra headshot

Sonali Misra's life revolves around stories. She's been a reader, performer, student of literature and creative writing, editor and product manager in the publishing industry, literary magazine co-founder, PhD Researcher and Lecturer in publishing, and author.

Born and raised in Delhi, India, Sonali's short prose has appeared in Scottish, Canadian and Indian anthologies. Her non-fiction book, 21 Fantastic Failures: and what their stories teach us, was published in 2020. She's won writing awards at University, a spot on Gothenburg's UNESCO City of Literature writing residency, and The National Library of Scotland's Fresh Ink prize. Due to the latter, her personal essay was added to the Library archives. It was also shortlisted for the Anne Brown Prize by Wigtown Book Festival and the BBC.

Supporting others in the literature sector is key for Sonali. She's done so as the Co-founder of The Selkie Publications CIC, an international literary magazine that publishes and promotes minoritised voices, and formerly as the Co-chair of the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) Scotland and member of the Writers' Advisory Group of Literature Alliance Scotland.

Currently completing her YA political adventure fantasy novel Aasra, the first in a trilogy, Sonali aims to showcase fun, fast-paced yet important Indian genre writing on the international stage.

Writing sample

Kiara's eyes light up at the sight of her home, and Vik shifts uncomfortably in his seat while parking the car. Fucking dogs. Why does he lose any semblance of intelligence at the mention of dogs? They shouldn't have come here to retrieve hers. He's only making it worse by leading her to a home she can never return to. How will her house bring her any comfort, if it's a graveyard of who she was and can never again be?

The security guard at the sparkling marbled reception shoots to his feet to salute Kiara, who leads the way while Vik follows a few paces behind, his fingers twitching in anticipation, maybe even a little excitement, which deepens his frown. The holstered gun beneath his denim jacket brushes against his ribs reassuringly. The guard slides a register towards Vik to sign in, but Kiara waves it off, and the uniformed man plops down on his seat. Is it Vik's imagination, or does the guard look at the pair of them with a suggestive quirk of the mouth? Pervert.

As she presses '10' in the lift, Vik wonders if he's leading her to her death. If the Samaj were able to track her workplace, what's stopping them from scoping out her home? He starts to say something, surely they can still turn around, when the lift doors open and she marches to her flat entrance. No trace of forced entry and the door looks harmless enough. As her key scrapes against the lock, a heavy bark echoes from within and her hand freezes.

"Rico never barks when he's by himself," she murmurs.

Vik reaches for his gun and pushes Kiara behind him. Another loud bark, more urgent this time. He curses under his breath and directs his next words to her, "Call the lift. Hold it here."

Sonali says:

'I got the news about winning the Award on a tough day, one I spent at hospital with my father, who's undergoing chemotherapy in India. He knows I've been applying to this Award for a couple years, and he's proud of my writing but also my perseverance. I won't win anything if I never apply, and I'm thrilled my efforts paid off!'