New Writers Awards 2017: Christine Jean Laurenson
Children's and Young Adult
Christine lives in Lerwick, where she was born, but spent her childhood (and learned to speak) in England, thus making her a stranger wherever she goes.
At 13, she was runner up in a national writing competition; her reward was an overly effusive conversation with the headmistress and a leaky cartridge pen. It didn’t put her off writing, although she avoided writing competitions for over a decade.
In recent years, Christine's writing has won her a murder tour of Aberdeen (2011), two distinctions in OU creative writing courses (2013 & 2014), a place on the longlist of the Flashbang competition (2014), publication of a short story in The New Shetlander, issue 271 (2015), publication of a poem in Journeys (2015), publication of a poem in Secrets & Confessions (2016) and a place on the Kelpie shortlist (2016).
She is currently working on her second children’s novel.
She could feel their eyes on her, their hatred like a solid thing pressing into her skin, as she and Amma Ragna walked through the lane between the low, turf houses.
‘Keep close, Asta.’
Asta walked more quickly. Her muscles were aching but she knew this was no place to slow down. They had to get to the Jarl’s house. Then, they could rest a while, before they faced the long walk back. The return journey should be easier. They wouldn’t be carrying anything. Asta was conscious of the weight on her back and could see how her grandmother stooped under an even bigger bundle. But the Jarl had sent for them, and no-one said no to the Jarl.
It started with one small stone that landed between them, splashing wet mud onto their legs. Someone shouted something. A few people laughed. Then, there was a chorus of voices, jeering, shouting words that Asta could not understand. Then a rain of stones fell over them, hard and sharp. Amma Ragna grabbed her arm roughly and they started to run, their bundles slapping painfully against their backs. Asta was too afraid to cry. She ran and ran, her breathing ragged and difficult, until, at last they were far enough away from the crowd and could slow down. The Jarl’s house was in sight at last. They would be safe there.
‘I hate them!’ said Asta. Her grandmother turned and smiled at her, but her eyes carried an ancient sadness.
‘They are afraid, Asta, and people who are afraid do terrible things sometimes. Try not to hate them. Hating can eat away at you.’
"I feel incredibly lucky. It’s an exciting opportunity as well as being a huge boost to my confidence."