New Writers Awards 2018: A. E. Daly

Childrens' and YA

A. E. Daly grew up in York, studied in Glasgow and now lives and works in Edinburgh. She is currently completing her first novel for young adults, Devil-Glass, and working on its sequel, with further writing projects developing.

With a background in both art history and computer science and a lifelong love for science fiction, comic books and ghost stories, she is naturally a fan of Clarke's Third Law ('any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic'); the deadly conflict in Devil-Glass centres on a prototype time machine cobbled together from Victorian cameras and medieval alchemy. In children's writing her influences are authors like Robert Westall, Susan Cooper and Alan Garner, whose stories have a complexity and seriousness that resonates far into adulthood.

She was shortlisted for the Scottish Book Trust's New Writers Awards in 2017.

 

Writing Sample

It wasn't really an opal. He didn't know what it was. An uncut stone the size of an eye, flat on one side, rounded on the other, it had no glint of an opal's rainbow fire. It was transparent, more or less, the grey-pink jellyfish colour of sea-worn quartz; but when you turned it just so, when the angle was right, a cracked vein of crimson light corkscrewed into view and vanished again, like a bloody lightning-strike encased in glass.

"What is it, Mum?" His eighth birthday, the Opal in a box of cotton wool.

"Just an old thing your Dad loved," Neeve had said, her voice crackling like an old radio as she held it steady; Mark knew not to look at her, or she'd cry. "I gave it to him, and he wore it every day until, until...  He wanted you to have it, when you were old enough."

He wondered sometimes why he loved it so, this keepsake of a man he couldn't remember. His father was a vacuum, a hole he'd tried not to fill with fantasies or blame for everything that had gone wrong since. Over the years his dreams and wants had shrunk to a single, simple wish: to see them together, Martin and Neeve, just once, to see them as they'd been, to know them both just for five minutes. One glimpse, one memory that would stick, one real moment he could tear loose from the soft, faded photos Neeve kept stubbornly reframing.

But he couldn't have it, so he wore the Opal.

 

A. E. says:

"I'm thrilled, honoured and a little stunned to be a New Writers awardee this year. Heartfelt thanks to the Scottish Book Trust for this opportunity, and for the enormous encouragement it has given me as a writer."