What's Your Story? 2018 Participants

Chosen from fantastic applications from around Scotland, our seven participants for the What’s Your Story? Teen Development Programme 2018 had to do three things to be brought on to the programme:

  • Show us that they are passionate about creative writing and illustration.
  • Tell us why creative writing and illustration should be part of the lives of teenagers.
  • Be ready to help us create resources and opportunities, so that more young people can get engaged with Scotland’s literary culture and creative writing industries.

We’re delighted to introduce these seven writers and illustrators in their own words, below. Or, you can find out more about our 2017 crew and the 2016 Rookies too as well as our 2018 What's Your Story? mentors.


Alisa author photo

Ailsa Dixon

Age: 14

Location: Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire

Speciality: Storytelling

Why Storytelling:  What’s Your Story will help me keep the traditions of Scottish storytelling and sung ballads alive. My work is massively influenced by Scottish tradition and this sort of opportunity would be beneficial and life changing not only for me but to spread the love for our heritage in stories with other young people.

Why Ailsa’s here: 
It would be amazingly helpful to work on creating stories with a professional mentor and sharing it with other young teen creators. I’ve never had the opportunity to talk about creating with other young people, and bounce about new ideas and plans, and I believe I would take away the most from my fellow programme participants.



Amelia author photo
Amelia Puchala

Age: 15

Location: Edinburgh

Speciality: Poetry

Why Poetry: I really enjoy writing poems

Why Amelia’s here: I think this is a great creative opportunity for young people to develop and explore their storytelling forms, and be professionally mentored in their area.



Anna author photo
Anna MacDonald

Age: 17

Location: Edinburgh

Speciality: Novels

Why Novels: I would be incredibly excited to learn more about what it takes to write a good book - specifically things like how to have fleshed out characters with subtle character development; well thought out (and believable!) plots, etc.

Why Anna’s here: I have worked hard to improve my writing but feel like I have done as much as I can on my own. Having input from a mentor and the chance to share my writing with other people would be such an amazing opportunity for me. I think that taking part in this programme would help me change my writing for the better and learn from the way other teens create.



Evan author photo
Evan O'Hara-Thomas

Age: 16

Location: Tarbolton, South Ayrshire

Specialty: Comics

Why Comics: I have always found the idea of drawing my stories and characters more appealing than just writing about them, and love the many diverse ways in which great artists have created worlds for the characters to exist in.

Why Evan’s here: I am lucky enough to have parents who support my desire to create, as well as incredibly supportive teachers, but I would like to learn more about what goes into creating work for publication. With this in mind I think that this programme will be beneficial to me, as it would allow me to focus my skills, build on those elements I believe need work and overall make me a better artist.



Elspeth author photo
Elspeth Nicol

Age: 15

Location: Ormiston, East Lothian

Speciality: Illustration

Why Illustration: When I illustrate my own work, I let my ideas for the character flow into my drawing, allowing me to create composite pieces, I can develop fully rounded characters and explore different facets of their character in each medium. Illustrating others’ work encourages me to look far more closely at how they portray the character. I feel almost as if I am working in collaboration with them, giving me a sense of teamwork that I really enjoy.

Why Elspeth’s here: Taking part in the programme would let me build on my confidence, and support others in developing their own skills. It would be wonderful to be able to get to know other teenagers, who come from different backgrounds and from all over Scotland, but who have just as much of a love for creating as I do, and create connections I’d have never made otherwise.




Holly author photo
Holly Edgar

Age: 16

Location: Giffnock, East Renfrewshire

Speciality: Novels

Why Novels: In my opinion, writing is more than a task for today. Writing a novel would be my contribution to the future. I want to write about things that matter. Society can be unbalanced, and many are blind to the problems of others. I want to exploit stereotypes to illustrate the idiosyncrasies that define us.

Why Holly’s here: On the programme I’d get to meet other young people with the same interests as me, as well as allowing to learn and develop my skills. Furthermore, this programme would open my eyes to the opportunities writing can present. I know writing is more than simply putting pen to paper- if you work hard enough, writing can become a legacy, a way to be heard.




Laura author photo
Laura Penman

Age: 15       

Location: Edinburgh

Speciality: Short Stories (Gaelic)

Why Short Stories: I love writing short stories, as they allow you to peek into a moment in someone's life, whether it be a special event, a tragic accident, or a simple, everyday happening. I love how you can become invested in someone, will them to do well, in just a few hundred words. I love nothing more than the simple action of sitting down with a pen in my hand, and writing two pages filled with creativity and care.

Why Laura’s here: It would be amazing to meet other enthusiastic young writers and share our hopes and ideas, grasping inspiration from each other, and sharing our joy for writing. It is important we develop creativity in Scotland so that our country’s identity and experiences are written about. It is great that Gaelic writers are being encouraged as it not only preserves Gaelic, but provides Gaelic speakers with new and current stories to read, and encourages Gaelic speakers to write creatively.