New Writers Awards 2016: P. M. Freestone

Children's and Young Adult

P.M. Freestone writes YA fiction, has published a handful of short stories (including work in anthologies from Penguin Books), and is now developing several novel-length projects. She is a member of Scottish PEN and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

A self-proclaimed nerd, since childhood she has been intrigued with all things speculative—her writing is littered with apocalypses, alternate histories and fantastical occurrences. She is also a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop (University of California, San Diego), a qualified archaeologist and a doctor of something philosophical.

Her formative years were spent in Australia, but she now lives in Edinburgh, where she has a day job at a university and crawls out of bed at an unspeakable hour of morning to write before work.

Online, you can find her on Twitter (@PM_Freestone) or at pmfreestone.com.

 

Writing sample

Mia finds me when I’m hunched over in the girl’s bathrooms, stuffing wads of toilet paper in my armpits so that I don’t sweat on my blazer. Unlike most of my classmates, I can’t afford to launder my uniform fresh every week.

Over the last two years at McKillop Hall, I’ve learnt that Mia terrifies half our year level and dominates the spank bank of most of the others (I still like to think myself an outlier, but I’m probably equal parts column A and column B). As she stands on the toilet in the next cubicle and peers over the partition, she has the grace to ignore my hand under my arm and the red splotches of embarrassment that creep from my unbuttoned shirt and mottle up my neck. But that’s where politeness ends.

‘What the hell are you dawdling in here for? It’s at least an hour to get across the IZ. We’re not going to make the protest if you don’t get your arse in gear.’

She somehow manages to pronounce the Irrigation Zone acronym ‘easy’ without a hint of irony. Her kohl-rimmed eyes appear huge in a pale face unblemished by dirt or sun. If I wasn’t already feeling like a rabbit with myxo, trembling and slow-witted, failing vision clouding friend from foe, her penetrating stare seals the deal.

‘I’m not going.’ I muster a drop of dignity and close my shirt. I hope she didn’t get a glimpse of my bra. I’ve seen Mia change in gym class enough times to know she favours white lace. Mine has forgotten the colour it used to be.

‘Are you for real? They’re trying to apply this new filter fee retrospectively. Half the city will go dry if that gets through.’

‘Keep your voice down,’ I hiss.

‘But your house is in that block.’

 

P. M. says:

"My first reaction was ‘are you serious?!’ The early stages of a writing career can be fraught with doubt, so to have this encouragement from Scottish Book Trust is a huge boost. I’m incredibly thankful to be one of their New Writers in 2016, and I’m excited about further developing my craft through the Award’s fantastic opportunities."