New Writers Awards 2017: Laura Morgan
In 2012, Laura swapped stilettos for wellies and went to live in a hundred-year-old cottage in North Sutherland. The idea was to write and she quickly drew inspiration from the sea cliffs and moorland. Two years later, she was awarded an MA in Creative Writing by Lancaster University.
Laura won runner-up in the 2016 Brighton Prize, and her stories have been shortlisted for many competitions, including the Moth Short Story Prize and the William Soutar Writing Prize. Her work is published in The Moth, Causeway/Cabhsair, Northwords Now, Words from an Island, Hysteria 5, and The Bottle Imp. A translation of her story ‘The Bridge’ is forthcoming in Vietnam’s national newspaper, Tuoi Tre, later to be released in a collection of selected international short stories. She also publishes book reviews, and in 2016 was a mentee on the Scottish Review of Book's Emerging Critics Programme.
Laura blogs about life in the far north, musing on roadside lochans, herring shoals and thunderstorms. Her writing can also be found on the Venture North and The Flow Country websites.
She will use the New Writer Award to complete her first short story collection, Winter Ground.
From ‘Seeing in the Dark’, a short story:
She catches scraps of radio chat, the chorus of songs, registers motorway signs but not the distances, because the biggest part of her is thinking about him. There is a depth to these silences that reminds her of being underwater. She tries to surface, but to do so requires effort, and all she can manage is to watch the speedometer while his face bobs in her mind.
Once she’s through Inverness she adjusts the angle of her foot on the pedal. Now the silence laps about as she starts to take in more of her surroundings. Darkness swaddles the moor at Crask where the RSPB has yet to fell the old spruce plantation. The wind has torn up the trees to the north and their slanting trunks are weathered the same grey as the sky. She sees how these pale strands matt the green swathe as the dead are held up by the living, and wonders at how their bearing down doesn’t rip new roots from the earth.
She checks her rear-view as she brakes coming off the strath, forgetting, as she has these whole eleven hours, that her duvet is jammed into the back window. No matter. Now Sarah is on the home straight, the same road she travelled every day on the bus from school. She drives the last seven miles with one hand on the wheel.
And now she’s thinking of Malcolm again. She imagines him into the space next to her – how his knees would fall open, how his face would look as he turned from the window. But he was never a passenger in her car. Crazy to think they were that young. With something between torture and awe, she counts back the years.
“I’m absolutely delighted! It’s exciting to think what the coming year will bring. It’s a dream come true and I’m going to give it my everything!”