SCOTLAND is awash with literary greats, old and new. From Walter Scott to Irvine Welsh, Scots have left a hefty imprint on the world.

And with Douglas Stuart winning the esteemed Booker Prize in 2020 for Shuggie Bain, the momentum shows no sign of slowing down.

The National spoke with 10 award-winning, up-and-coming writers in Scotland, all recently awarded by the Scottish Book Trust.

Here’s what they had to say ...

The National: Firas Ibrahim.


“I’M from Syria and came here in 2001. I’ve been writing stories based on true events – about the human side of Syria, and about my life here. About how I built a home here, and how this has afforded me an environment to write, to feel like I belong to a society I like and feel really deeply rooted in.

“It gives me the ability to write what I want, without any judgement.”

The National: Dougie Strang Portrait.


“THE book that I’m writing is based on a month long walk in the north and west Highlands, tracking myth and story in the landscape. It’s a kind of exploration of what does culture still have to tell us about land and place? It’s trying to really delve deeply into what culture and place still have to say to each other.”

The National: Eimear Bush.


“I MOVED to Edinburgh from Northern Ireland five years ago, but when people are taken away from where they come from, they’re flooded with memories and ideas. Whilst I was writing about Edinburgh, I started to chip away at these novels that were about Ireland. I’ve ended up with a trilogy about the lives of three women. I don’t see them as about the Troubles but it does have that backdrop.”

The National: Rae Cowie Portrait.


“MY latest novels are focused on women’s stories, but I’m also interested in lyrical writing, using folklore and magical realism.

“At the start of the pandemic courses that would normally be in London were suddenly online, which meant folks like me up in the north of Scotland got access. I decided to have a go at flash fiction writing and I just fell in love with the form.

“My new collection will look at mothering in its widest sense.”

The National: Shelagh Campbell portrait-SBT.


“I MAINLY write fiction in Gaelic, both for adults and children. I learned Gaelic as an adult but I’m pretty much fluent in the language now. What I like doing is trying to write fiction that’s accessible to Gaelic learners, or people who aren’t very confident Gaelic readers. The book I’m working on for the awards is a crime novel, which will hopefully be written in a way that’s accessible to learners, like I mentioned, who are less confident.”

The National: Armarna Forbes.


“I WAS raised in what remains of the American Old West, and as a youngster, I explored a lot of forgotten mine shafts, listened to Western ghost stories and gained a unique perspective a lot of folks these days never experience. I moved to Scotland permanently six years ago, and although the atmosphere is drastically different in Edinburgh to the deserts of the West, I find the city shares that same eerie vibe that is perfect for creatives. My debut novel Dead Remnants ... combined a lot of what I really love: horror, history, fantasy – ghost cowboys and phantom buffalo.”

The National: Lindsay Hirst 2.


“I AM a primary and nursery teacher and this has fed into my writing. I write picture books. My inspiration comes from the children I work with and my own children, who are three and five. I write heartfelt and I write in verse and prose. It can be challenging at times, and I want to throw my laptop out the window, but I prefer writing in verse.”

The National: Helena Fornells Portrait.


“I’M from Barcelona and I’ve lived in Edinburgh for seven years. I write poetry mainly in English, but I sometimes mix in Catalan and Spanish words.

“My poetry often focuses on language itself and how we process our experience of the world through words. I also write about the reality of trying to make a home away from home, and trying to feel connected with nature in an age of climate catastrophe.”

The National: Roshni Portrait.


“I’m originally from Leeds, and I’ve been living in Edinburgh for over six years now. I’m a poet, writer, and librarian by day.

“I often write on themes of nature, memory, and belonging. I think they’re highly connected. I like to take a few key images or ideas and hold them up to the light.

“I think of poetry as a way of capturing and honouring fleeting moments and emotions – something unrealised or ineffable given a home.”

The National: Agata Landscape (Credit Alicja Dybowska).


“I’M a writer and translator. I grew up in Poland and moved to Edinburgh in 2005 where I’m currently living. I write fiction and poetry. During the award period, I would like to write new poems and further explore my areas of interest which include ecopoetry, migrant literatures, translation, and experimental writing, among others.”