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Charity spotlight: Scottish Book Trust

Across 2022, the Year of Stories, we are spotlighting Publishing Scotland members, who will share their own story in their own words. Get to know the Scottish Book Trust, who deliver a number of programmes across Scotland, including BookBug and their New Writers Awards, to inspire and empower readers and writers at all ages and stages.

What’s your story?

Scottish Book Trust has been bringing the benefits of reading and writing to everyone in Scotland since 1998. Every year, we deliver our world-class programmes and annual awards to well over two million people. From introducing books and storytelling to pre-school children to inspiring and empowering adult readers and writers, we believe it’s never too early – or too late – to begin a magical journey with words.

We deliver our programmes in every local authority area in Scotland and we work with partners ranging from small community groups to the Scottish Government. You’ll find us in schools and libraries and at community events. You’ll find us in towns and cities and in isolated, rural communities. And you’ll find us bringing books to life for children in care, families living in challenging circumstances and people in prison. In short, you’ll find us wherever we’re needed most.

Tell us about some of your key stories

Every year, a select group of unpublished writers are accepted on to our New Writers Award programme, which gives them a cash bursary as well as a year of mentorship and a chance to share their work with agents and publishers. We publish samples of their work in a collection called New Writing each year, with previous volumes including writing by Gail Honeyman, Graeme Macrae Burnet, Kirsty Logan, Nadine Aisha Jassat, Kirstin Innes and Helen Sedgwick.

As part of Book Week Scotland’s annual celebrations, we publish a book which gathers real-life stories from people across Scotland on that year’s theme. We received hundreds of entries this year through our Your Stories project, and 25 were selected to feature in the published book – but all the entries are available to read on our website.

This year’s book, Scotland’s Stories, as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories, will be available to collect for free from libraries and other community spaces across the country during Book Week Scotland (14–20 November), and ebook and audio formats are available online. The books also feature commissioned stories from published writers, and this year’s includes pieces by Angus Peter Campbell, Raman Mundair, Graeme Armstrong and Helen Fields.

What draws you to a story? What makes a good story?

We always want to hear stories from across Scotland, from people from all walks of life. We love exciting storytelling in all its formats, and work hard to make sure we amplify the voices of those who are often under-represented in publishing. The New Writers Award selection panels change each year, calling on the expertise of brilliant writers to help us find brilliant voices. The award also offers an access fund to help support awardees with additional barriers, for example covering childcare costs or buying assistive technology.

We apply a similar ethos to Your Stories and the Book Week Scotland book – we encourage people across Scotland to share their stories, from those who write regularly to those who haven’t written before. We believe every person has a story to tell and that telling that story is powerful. Every year we use a different theme to help people write about their lives, their way, and we share those stories far and wide.

What stories should we look forward to or check out this year?

Scotland’s Stories will be out and about across Scotland during Book Week Scotland on 14–20 November – you can find copies at libraries and other community spaces, and digital and audio versions are available on our website.

Volume 14 of New Writing will be released in January 2023, featuring writing from the 2022–23 cohort of New Writers Awardees, which will be available to read digitally on our website. New Writers Awardees from previous years have recently published books or have books coming up: the Booker-longlisted Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet, The Pharmacist by Rachelle Atalla, Ace Voices by Eris Young (December 2022), Now She is Witch by Kirsty Logan (January 2023) and Weak Teeth by Lynsey May (July 2023).

Learn more about the Scottish Book Trust at @ScottishBkTrust