Scottish Book Trust Announces New Teen Writers & Illustrators

Category: Press Releases

Scottish Book Trust, the national charity transforming lives through reading and writing, has today announced the seven teenage writers and illustrators who have been recruited to steer the nationwide What’s Your Story? programme, aimed at helping to increase opportunities for young people to access and contribute to literary culture across Scotland.

The group are representative of teen engagement with creative writing and illustration in Scotland, and include: a comic book artist, a poet, an illustrator, a storyteller, two novelists and a writer of short stories. The teens are aged from 14 to 17 years old.

This team of young writers and illustrators will be responsible for planning and hosting StoryCon 2018, Scotland’s biggest creative writing and illustration conference for young people. Last year this took place in Glasgow and was attended by around 150 young people.

The What’s Your Story? participants will also work on their own creative development, benefitting from an induction programme with The National Library of Scotland, professional mentoring in their chosen forms and genres, and a week-long retreat at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s creative writing centre. In previous years, participants have had the chance to interview bestselling authors at Edinburgh International Book Festival and Aye Write!

The What’s Your Story? programme will culminate with a showcase, presenting the work the young people have created throughout the year. Creative professionals will train the teens to perform their work live, against a background of visuals and music.

Organised and run by Scottish Book Trust, What’s Your Story? was originally funded by Time to Shine, Creative Scotland’s national youth arts strategy and is the first nationwide programme of its kind in Scotland. This year it is funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Young Start programme and The Badenoch Trust, as well as other trusts and private donors. What’s Your Story? is free to take part in and travel expenses will be covered for all participants. The Gaelic Books Council also funds a Gaelic-language place.

The full list of the What’s Your Story? participants is as follows:

  • Evan O’Hara-Thomas from Tarbolton, South Ayrshire: Comic Book Artist
  • Amelia Puchala from Edinburgh: Poet
  • Elspeth Nicol from Ormiston, East Lothian: Illustrator
  • Ailsa Dixon from Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire: Storyteller
  • Anna MacDonald from Edinburgh: Novelist
  • Holly Edgar from Giffnock, East Renfrewshire: Novelist
  • Laura Penman from Edinburgh: Short Story writer (Gaelic)

The teens were selected by a judging team, which included one of the previous What’s Your Story? participants, and representatives from Creative Scotland, The National Library of Scotland, The Gaelic Books Council and Scottish Book Trust. Participants were selected on the enthusiasm and dedication they expressed for teenage participation in creative and literary culture.

This is the third year of the What’s Your Story? programme, and including the new participants, twenty-four young people will have benefitted from the opportunity to progress their creative specialty.


Anna MacDonald said:

“I have been to StoryCon for the last two years which I really enjoyed and so I applied for the What's Your Story? programme last year. I write short stories and novels. I've always read a lot and since I was very young I have loved creating my own worlds and characters.”


Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:

“As we enter the third year of the What’s Your Story? programme, Scottish Book Trust is delighted to have chosen its seven new teen participants from around Scotland. These seven teens, and the hundreds more who have engaged with the programme’s activities since we launched in 2015, are proving that Scotland’s young people believe wholeheartedly in the importance of creative writing and illustration in their lives and want to contribute to Scotland’s literary culture now, and in the future. We can’t wait to support these new recruits through this journey and discover what they’re capable of.”


Maureen McGinn, Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, said:

“Congratulations to the seven young authors and illustrators recruited to drive forward the What’s Your Story? programme. What’s Your Story? is a unique opportunity for budding young writers across Scotland to come together to nurture their creative talent. Working with a diverse range of young people, it will develop skills and confidence, and is an excellent example of the type of activity Young Start funding makes possible.”


Graeme Hawley, General Collections Manager at the National Library of Scotland, said:

“This is a wonderful opportunity to meet the writers of the future and to inspire them at the start of their journey. By introducing them to the national collection of books, magazines, pamphlets, letters, diaries and film we can show them the diversity of the written word, and introduce them to resources that they can use in their own work. Congratulations to this year’s new writers.”


Rosemary Ward, Director of Gaelic Books Council, said:

“The Gaelic Books Council is delighted to once again be involved in this exciting youth initiative. I am particularly encouraged that year on year young Gaelic writers have the confidence to submit samples of their work and present compelling arguments on the impact that their participation in the programme might have on their writing. Congratulations to everyone who has made it on to this year’s programme. I wish them all the very best.”


Notes to editors:



Scottish Book Trust

Scottish Book Trust is a national charity changing lives through reading and writing. We inspire and support the people of Scotland to read and write for pleasure through programmes and outreach work that include:

  • Gifting books to every child in Scotland to ensure families of all backgrounds can share the joy of books at home.
  • Working with teachers to inspire children to develop a love of reading, creating innovative classroom activities, book awards and author events.
  • Supporting Scotland’s diverse writing community with our training, awards and writing opportunities.
  • Funding a range of author events for the public to enjoy and promoting Scottish writing to people worldwide.   @scottishbktrust


Young Start, Big Lottery Fund

  • The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
  • Since June 2004 we have awarded over £8.5 billion to projects across the UK that change the lives of millions of people. We supported communities to deliver 13,000 projects across the UK last year, thanks to National Lottery Funding.
  • In September 2011 the Scottish Government formally issued instructions to the Big Lottery Fund to distribute dormant accounts funding for the benefit of Scotland’s voluntary and community sector.
  • Dormant accounts are defined in the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act 2008 as those which have seen no customer-initiated activity for at least 15 years.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £37 billion has been raised for Good Causes funding over 510,000 projects.


The Badenoch Trust

The Badenoch Trust has made grants to a wide-range of UK organisations since its inception.  It is a long-standing supporter of the arts, community, education and sports, and seeks to raise the aspirations and improve the life chances of young people.


Gaelic Books Council

The Gaelic Books Council is the lead organisation with responsibility for supporting Scottish Gaelic authors and publishers, and for raising the profile and reach of Scottish Gaelic Books in Scotland and internationally.


National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland is a major European research library and one of the world’s leading centres for the study of Scotland and the Scots - an information treasure trove for Scotland’s knowledge, history and culture.

The Library’s collections are of world-class importance. Key areas include digital material, rare books, manuscripts, maps, music, moving images, official publications, business information, science and technology, and the modern and foreign collections. The Library holds more than 26 million items dating back over 1000 years. This includes over fifteen million printed items, eight million manuscripts, two million maps and over 45,000 films and videos. Every week it collects around 4,000 new items. Around 80% of these are received free of charge in terms of Legal Deposit legislation. Further information is available at