STONE Age Orkney, Texas in the 1920s and an ancient malevolent spirit are the basis of the shortlisted books for the very first Scottish Teenage Book Prize.

The prize, set up to celebrate the most popular teen books by Scottish authors, is run by Scottish Book Trust with support from Creative Scotland. Shortlisted authors receive £500 per book, and the winning author will receive £3,000.

Keith Gray is shortlisted for his book The Last Soldier, a dyslexia-friendly thriller set in 1920s Texas. Even though Gray was labelled a reluctant reader when he was younger, these days he’s an award-winning writer, reviewer and editor of young adult fiction. He spends much of his time visiting schools hoping to convince other reluctant readers that “books are for life, not just for homework”. His novel Ostrich Boys has been adapted for the stage and will be performed at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry this autumn.

“I’m surprised, excited and genuinely honoured to have The Last Soldier shortlisted for the Scottish Teenage Book Prize,” said Gray. “It’s extremely unusual to have a work of short fiction considered for a prestigious literary award and I hope the readers enjoy finding the big story, big characters, and big emotions in such a small book.”


ENGLISH teacher Claire McFall is shortlisted for her novel Black Cairn Point, a chilling and atmospheric thriller which explores what happens when an ancient malevolent spirit is reawakened. Her first book, Ferryman is a love story which retells the ancient Greek myth of Charon, the ferryman of Hades who transported souls to the underworld. The novel won the Older Readers’ Category of the Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2013 and was long-listed for the UKLA (UK Literary Association) Book Awards and nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Her second novel, Bombmaker, was released in 2014 and considers ideas of identity in a dystopian devolved United Kingdom. Black Cairn Point is her third novel and was released in August 2015.

“I’m incredibly pleased that Black Cairn Point has been selected as one of the short-listed novels,” said McFall, who lives in the Scottish Borders. “What I love best about the prize is that it is determined purely by votes from Scottish teenage readers. I’m really looking forward to connecting with young readers and sharing my story with them.”


JOAN Lennon is shortlisted for her book Silver Skin, a highly original tale set in Stone Age Orkney, which explores what happens when ancient and modern worlds collide. Joan describes herself as a Scottish Canadian/Canadian Scot who lives and writes in the Kingdom of Fife. She likes to write about ideas from a slightly slanted perspective and see how far the question “What if?” can be pushed.

“I’m really excited to be part of the new Scottish Teenage Book Prize in its very first year. To know that Silver Skin is being read and talked about by the people it was written for is a great feeling – and I can’t wait to see the book trailers.”

Heather Collins, Schools Programme Manager at Scottish Book Trust, added: “The Scottish Teenage Book prize is intended as a celebration of the very best of Scottish YA fiction, and I defy any teenager to put these books down once they have read the first page – they all contain the ingredients of a gripping read and I predict a close-run competition.”


CHILDREN aged 12-16 across the country can now vote for the winner by submitting a class vote online via the Scottish Book Trust website.

The winning book will be announced via an exclusive video on Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

Aspiring film makers can enter the book trailer competition to showcase their digital talents and win book tokens for their school and for themselves. Scottish Book Trust provides extensive learning resources for teachers on how to create book trailers.

“Congratulations to all three shortlisted authors in the brand new Teenage Book Prize,” said Jenny Niven, Head of Literature, Languages and Publishing at Creative Scotland. “The benefits of encouraging young people to read – from transporting us to other worlds to better understanding the one we’re in - are virtually limitless and Scottish Book Trust are true champions of that cause. The new prize encourages teens themselves to actively celebrate the books they love, while creating a platform for Scottish writing talent to be recognised and promoted. Creative Scotland is delighted to be able to support both these valuable aims.”