Next Chapter Award Recipient Announced

Gail Honeyman
Category: Press Releases

An aspiring author from Glasgow has been announced as the recipient of Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2014, which is intended to support a talented yet unpublished writer over the age of 40 for whom finding time and space to write has proved especially challenging.

Gail Honeyman, a writer in her early forties, impressed the judging panel with an extract from her first novel, which has a working title of Eleanor Oliphant and focuses on a troubled young woman’s deepening obsession with a local singer. With a busy and demanding full-time job, Gail has to fit her writing into spare hours before or after work, or at weekends, whilst also juggling her other commitments. The Award will provide her with a £1,000 bursary, nine months of mentoring and four weeks on retreat at creative writing centre Moniack Mhor, with the aim of developing her novel to publication standard.

Gail is a graduate of the Universities of Glasgow and Oxford. Her short fiction has been longlisted for BBC Radio 4's Opening Lines, shortlisted for the Mslexia Short Story Competition and published in New Writing Scotland. She is currently writing her first novel, the opening chapters of which were shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize.

Commenting on the announcement, Gail said:

I was both surprised and delighted to receive this award, and am very grateful to Scottish Book Trust for this wonderful opportunity. I'm really looking forward to spending time writing and editing at Moniack Mhor, and, as well as being incredibly helpful, it's a real privilege to have the opportunity to work with and learn from a mentor while I complete my novel."

Will Mackie, Next Chapter Project Manager for Scottish Book Trust, said:

“It's greatly rewarding to be in a position to run this special opportunity and we're delighted to award it to a writer as exciting as Gail. The Next Chapter Award recognises that the challenges faced by early career writers are long-term and difficult to overcome, and how that first published work can remain elusively out of reach. We received many submissions and were genuinely struck by their quality and diversity. Gail's distinctive talent, storytelling power and ability to maintain a compelling and original voice demonstrate the wonderful scope of her potential. We very much look forward to working with her.”

Notes to Editors:

  • Scottish Book Trust is the leading agency for the promotion of literature, reading and writing in Scotland. It develops innovative projects to encourage adults and children to read and write, supports professional writers with a range of projects including skills development and awards, funds a variety of literature events and promotes Scottish writing to people worldwide.

For interview requests and further information, contact PR Manager Helen Croney:  T: 0131 524 0175 M: 07751 69 58 54


Extract from Eleanor Oliphant:

I make supper, and after I’ve washed up I read a book, or sometimes I watch TV if there’s a programme that the Telegraph has recommended. Mummy phones on a Wednesday evening, and I’ll talk to her for quarter of an hour or so. Sometimes I have a bath, listening to the radio – there’s almost always something interesting on, although I don’t enjoy the programmes about personal finance or disability issues. I go to bed around ten, read for half an hour and then put the light out. I don’t have trouble sleeping, as a rule.

On Friday evenings, I go to the Tesco Metro around the corner and buy a margherita pizza, some chianti and two bottles of vodka. When I get home, I eat the pizza and drink the wine. I have some vodka afterwards. I don’t need much. I usually wake up on the sofa, always around 3am, and stumble to bed. I drink the rest of the vodka over the weekend, spread it over both days so that I’m neither drunk nor sober. Monday takes a long time to come around. 

Everyone’s so busy now, I do understand that. When my phone rings, it’s always, without exception, either Mummy making her Wednesday call, or people asking if I’ve been mis-sold PPI. I talk to my Mummy. I whisper I know where you live to the PPI people, and hang up the phone very, very gently. 

No one’s been in my flat this year; I’ve not had another human being across the threshold. You’d think that would be impossible, wouldn’t you? It’s true, though. I do exist, don’t I? It often feels like I’m not here, like I’m a figment of my own imagination. There are days when I feel so lightly connected to the earth, that the threads that tether me to the planet are gossamer thin, like spun sugar, so that a strong gust of wind could just dislodge me completely. I’d lift off and blow away, like one of those seeds in a dandelion clock.