Writers aged over 40 invited to apply for national award

The Scottish Book Trust has announced that the Next Chapter Award 2020 is open for applications.

Now in its sixth year, the award from the independent national charity transforming lives through reading and writing, seeks submissions from talented yet unpublished writers over the age of 40.

The Next Chapter Award supports an emerging writer for whom finding time and space to write has proved especially challenging. Developing a specific piece of work to publication standard will be the central aim of the award and applicants must demonstrate genuine potential for publication.

Run by Scottish Book Trust, the award provides a £2000 bursary; nine months of mentoring from a writer or industry professional; a two-week retreat at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre; training in PR, social media and performance; and the opportunity to showcase work to publishers and agents.

Gail Honeyman, recipient of the inaugural Next Chapter Award in 2014, went on to sign a seven-figure publishing deal for her debut novel. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine was published in 2017 and has since sold two million copies – making it the best-selling book of 2018. It has also won several top awards and been optioned for a film by Reese Witherspoon’s Hollywood company.

The winner of Next Chapter Award 2019, Samina Chaudhry, is currently working on a novel, Half-Woman, which is inspired by her experience of growing-up in different places and the juxtaposition of different societies. Since winning the award, Samina has been working closely with her mentor, novelist and former literary editor of Scotland on Sunday, Andrew Crumey, to develop her novel.

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: ‘Turning your attention to writing can be difficult at any age, but this award recognises the specific challenges writers aged 40 and over face. As well as public recognition, the prize offers specific support to help the awardee develop their work towards publication.

‘We are delighted to be running this award for the sixth year. It reflects the high standard of creativity and range of talent in Scotland, and we encourage writers to apply for this excellent opportunity.’

Samina Chaudhry, winner of the Next Chapter Award 2019, said: ‘The Next Chapter Award has been an absolute inspiration, whether in terms of writing or freeing up headspace at my writing retreat at Moniack Mhor.

‘Having recently had a very positive introductory meeting with my mentor, Andrew Crumey, and received thoughtful insight, I cannot appreciate enough the support given by Scottish Book Trust in setting up these relationships, making me so look forward to the way ahead!’

The award is open to poets, novelists, authors of narrative non-fiction and children’s authors who are 40 years of age or above. The closing date is Wednesday 18 September 2019 at midday. Visit scottishbooktrust.com for more information.