Mentoring: Our 2018 Mentees

Our mentoring programme provides professional writers with a sustained period of support devoted to developing a particular writing project. Meet the three writers who'll be working with mentors to explore new avenues, make new breakthroughs and hone their skills in 2018 - Claire MacLeary, Jack O'Donnell and Morna Young.

Find out more about mentoring or check out the 2018 mentors.

Claire MacLeary portrait

Claire MacLeary | Mentored by Sophy Dale

Claire MacLeary's debut crime novel, Cross Purpose, was published by Saraband in 2017 under its Contraband crime imprint. It follows the exploits of an unlikely partnership: two non-professional women-of-a-certain-age who fall heir to a private investigation business. The novel was longlisted for Bloody Scotland's 2017 McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year.

Burnout, the second in the Harcus & Laird series, explores sexual abuse in the era of Weinstein and the MeToo movement, and was published in March 2018 to glowing reviews. The third novel in the series will be launched next spring.

Claire's work has been included in Gutter and Leopard magazines, Dundee Writes, New Writing Dundee and In Memoriam, a tribute to those who have donated their bodies to medical science.

She has performed at Aye Write, Granite Noir, Newcastle Noir and Further From Book Festivals, was a Spotlighter at last year's Bloody Scotland, and reads regularly at NoirAtTheBar.

After taking time out from a business career, Claire gained MLitt with distinction in Creative Writing at Dundee Uni. Married with two children, she divides her time between Glasgow and St Andrews.

The project

In celebration of older women, Claire plans to re-work a domestic novel, derived from her MLitt dissertation, as a gran lit title.

Claire says:

"Having pitched my debut novel at a Scottish Book Trust event, I'm thrilled to have won a place on its mentoring programme. I look forward to working with the accomplished Sophy Dale, who mentored fellow Saraband author and Booker Prize short-lister, Graeme Macrae Burnet, at an early stage in his writing career.'  


Jack O'Donnell portrait

Jack O’Donnell | Mentored by Carl MacDougall

Jack O’Donnell has been told he doesn’t look like a writer, frequently. His debut novel Lily Poole was West Dunbartonshire Libraries most stolen book and Book of the Month around March 2016. He is an online editor on the writers’ website ABCtales and a few years ago won their annual writing competition. He even came runner up on some poetry thing. Nepotism, absolutely. He claims it made him feel like an Old Etonian or even middle-class. His short stories have been published in a number of anthologies nobody much reads, including From Glasgow to Saturn, which isn’t an anthology. Twice he has been long-listed in a competition for Drama by BBC Script Room, most recently 2016 for a version of the second novel he is working on with his mentor.

He lives in Clydebank and frequently writes about his home town and Glasgow, because he’s lazy that way.

The project

You develop a kind of shorthand to answer the question what is your book about? The simple answer is The Cruelty Man is about us. Our poor, wee, screwed-up lives.

Jack says:

"Scottish Book Trust finding a mentor of the quality of Carl MacDougall is a blessing and an education I couldn’t afford. He can see what I cannot and push me in the right directions, saving an enormous amount of time and energy. Working together we can make this the best version of the novel possible. Then it’ll have a chance in the big bad world of agents and publishing, but really, it’s no about that."


Morna Young portrait

Morna Young | Mentored by Malachy Tallack

Morna Young is a playwright, actress and musician from a wee fishing village in the North East of Scotland. She was recipient of the 2017 Dr Gavin Wallace Fellowship (hosted by Creative Learning, Aberdeen City Council) and the New Playwrights Award 2014 (Playwrights' Studio, Scotland). She is the 2018 playwright-in-residence for BATS Theatre and Toi Põneke Arts Centre in Wellington, New Zealand as part of an ongoing international exchange between Scotland and New Zealand.

Lost at Sea, her first full-length play, was developed in 2013 with award-winning Stellar Quines Theatre Company and is in pre-production with Eden Court for 2019. Other plays include: Aye, Elvis ('A Play, A Pie and A Pint'), Netting (‘A Play, A Pie and A Pint' and Scotland-wide tour with Woodend Barn), She of the Sea (Paines Plough 'Come to Where I'm From'), B-Roads (Play Pieces), Never Land (Eden Court) and two short plays for the National Theatre of Scotland's Great Yes, No, Don’t Know Show. Upcoming productions include Smite (Jermyn Street Theatre) and The Buke of the Howlat (Findhorn Bay Arts). Morna has performed extracts of her work at the Scottish Parliament, The European Author's Festival (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland), National Poetry Month, France and Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The Project

Morna is writing a memoir called Found at Sea about belonging, memory and loss.

Morna says:

"I’m delighted to be accepted for the Scottish Book Trust mentoring programme. As a playwright, I specialise in shaping character’s voices but I hope this journey allows me to fully discover and nurture my own. Working with Malachy Tallack is a real honour and I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to share and develop this work with him."

Morna Young photo credit Scott Cadenhead