Callan Gordon Award 2016: Karyn Dougan

Callan Gordon Award

Born in Falkirk, Karyn Dougan has performed her work across the UK, sharing the stage with some of her literary heroes (such as Janice Galloway and Liz Lochhead) and has taken her work to Europe, performing in Greece and Italy.

She has written for The List, The Skinny and The Bear, and has worked in almost every section of the book industry as a proofreader, editor, reviewer and bookseller. A graduate of Stirling University, she now lives in Glasgow and is known for being "the cheerleader of Scottish literature" and has become a writer of prose, poetry and all things wordy. 

Her first short story was published in Alight Here: An Anthology of Falkirk Writing (Cargo, 2015) edited by fellow Bairn Alan Bissett, and has appeared in magazines including Untitled and The Grind. She also won the 2009 Bookseller Bursary Award.  

She owes much of her writing to her other half, who has been her editor and mentor for the last few years, encouraging her to keep going even when she thought she couldn’t.

She likes to think her occasional Twitter addiction helps to make her a better writer.


Writing sample

We turn up into the crisps aisle and my eyes immediately clamp onto a girl looking at pretzels. I start worrying he’s noticed her too. It would be hard not to.

Bing. Attention shoppers. In aisle five we have a beautiful brunette. Long dark hair spilling in waves down her back. Slim waist. Clear skin. Her eyeliner is a work of art. Not only that, shoppers, but she has the perfect ass. Treat his eyes today since the rest of the time he has to be satisfied looking at you. Aisle five, ladies and gentlemen.

He’s probably looking at her now. Can’t blame him. I bet she doesn’t have to worry about how many pretzels she eats. I bet she's one of those people who orders a box of organic fruit to her flat every week, and grazes on it like some bloody gazelle.

‘Hey, you want some?’

He’s holding up a multi-bag of my favourite crisps with a big grin on his face. I shake my head, feeling more aware of my stomach than I ever have.

‘Ah, come on, I know you do. A little treat.’ He puts them in the basket but I take them back out.

‘No, no. Honestly. I don’t want them.’

‘What’s wrong?’


He rubs his ear but stays quiet.

Bing. Attention shoppers. Also in aisle five you will find a great selection of paranoid thoughts. Distrust, cheating, dissatisfaction. All in aisle five today.

‘You want anything from here?’ I ask.


We walk on in silence.


Karyn says:

"I am honoured to receive the Callan Gordon Award and would like to thank Callan’s family for making such a special opportunity available to young writers. It is a life-changing award and I hope to live up to the previous winners."