New Writers Awards 2016: Greg Whelan


Greg Whelan was born and raised in Methil, Fife. When he was seventeen, he moved to Edinburgh to study English Literature and has since earned an MSc with Distinction in Creative Writing and his PhD in Creative Writing, both from the University of Edinburgh.

In 2006 he won the Sloan Prize for Writings in the Scottish Vernacular and has since had short stories published in various collections such as New Writing Scotland, Almost An Island: A Fife Anthology, and the ECA UoE collaborative coffee table book, Garlic and Sapphires.

He has spent the past ten years writing for the pure love of it, and has written many short stories while putting together three novels. Greg is currently building up to his fourth novel while redrafting the previous three with a mind to getting them published.

He can still remember the first book he tried to write, aged seven, entitled “The Warp.” Unfortunately, he spent more time illustrating the cover than writing the book. The work has since been shelved as “unfinished.” 

Writing sample

Rob with his wee coo’s lick, twisted tuft like the tail of a cartoon duck. The girls, they love it. He is a grungy, unknowing heartthrob. He is the Kwiksave Kurt Cobain rattling the ribcage of every girl in your school who takes an art class, paints her nails in darker shades or drowns her hands in the sleeves of an oversized jumper. Ironic, iconic, laconic. Robert. But they called him Alfalfa, back then before he grew his hair out proper, trying to mirror Harry’s. For years in primary school, you’d thought that boy in the corner humming to himself had genuinely been called that, Alfalfa. It wasn’t until years later in high school when everything was re-examined that you’d realised the mistake.

So, Alfalfa throwing little pebbles at your window in youthful dark of spring sprung night. Come down, come down, I think I love you. I’m fourteen and I can’t live without you. Of course you would love him one day, but not like that, could never. It was the season of awakenings, in the world, in you. Yet yours wasn’t the awakening that everyone seemed to expect or want. When you spread your petals you had found yourself so different from the others and so you had closed them up again.

Poor Al, kicking dirt and mumbling up at your window. You’d laugh about it in those following years when you were all close in attic snugs, snorting, gasping, sweating; coughing through Lambrini and Lucky Strikes. No matter how stupid, angry, hurt or piggish he became, you still saw that night with the pebbles all those years before, aged thirteen: Alfalfa turning tail and running across the midnight dew of your father’s grass, disappearing in the dark, the hall light cutting an arc across the lawn and your father’s voice roaring after him. You and Alfalfa: friends then, still friends now, somehow.


Greg says:

"I’m absolutely honoured. For years, I’ve been writing because I simply loved doing it. However, since finishing my PhD, I’ve felt that it was time for the next step. This award is a huge vote of confidence from the Scottish Book Trust and I plan to take full advantage of such an incredible experience."