I am a writer, creative writing tutor and book reviewer living on the east coast of Scotland. I am working on my first novel, Brantwood, which is based on several years in the life of Victorian art critic and social reformer John Ruskin, and a short story collection, Creaturely, which explores what other species mean to us, as well as the ways in which we ourselves are ‘creaturely’.
Writing awards include short-listing for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize (2017), a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award (2016) and a Bridge Award from Moniack Mhor (2015). Other prizes include the Robert McLellan Poetry Award, the Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition, and commendations in the William Soutar Prize and the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine. My writing has been widely published in journals and anthologies including Gutter, Magma, New Writing Scotland and The Book of Iona (Polygon, 2016).
From the University of St Andrews I have an MLitt in Creative Writing and a PhD in English Literature which explored the connections between contemporary poetry and science. I also have an MA in Art History from the University of Sussex and enjoy teaching on the OCA’s ‘Creative Arts Today’ course.
I have tutored on the Creative Writing Summer Programme at the University of St Andrews since 2010, and I lead many writing workshops in the wider community. Recent workshops include ‘Flash Fiction’ at the Ilkley Literary Festival and ‘Writing and Walking’ at Sheffield’s ‘Off the Shelf’ Book Festival. I regularly contribute blogs on writing issues for the OCA website and write book reviews for publications including the Edinburgh Review and New Welsh Review.
I’m Unit Leader for Writing Skills and take great satisfaction in bringing out the best in people’s writing and helping students to achieve their goals. I also find that teaching keeps me on my toes with regards to my own writing! I’m drawn to work that responds to unusual subject matter or casts a clear eye on the natural world, and often read books of natural history, popular science and writers’ letters for inspiration. My favourite fiction writers include Andrea Barrett, Marilynne Robinson and Anthony Doerr; my favourite poets include Alice Oswald, Kathleen Jamie and Robert Wrigley. One of the most important ways of learning to write well is by reading, and I encourage my students to read as much and as widely as possible.