By Alexander John Penny
St Andrews creative writing degree student Anna Stewart is the newest recipient of the Dragon’s Pen Award for new writers.
The award is an established part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, an annual gathering of new and established authors that has taken place since 1983. Events include readings, debates and discussion series. This years festival took place from 13-29 August and consisted of more than 700 events.
Nine students involved in creative writing courses at their respective universities took part in the award, whose name is a literary twist on the popular BBC show. Facing a panel of three judges the entrants were given four minutes to read a sample of their pieces and make a pitch for their story’s merit.
The Dragons’ panel was made up of Francis Bickmore, Senior Editor for Canongate Books, literary agent Lucy Luck and Charlotte Higgins, Arts Correspondent for The Guardian newspaper.
Stewart read an excerpt from ‘Pleasureland’, her original series of short stories set in Dundee and Arbroath and based on an indoor amusement arcade. Winning the award for new writers means that Stewart has achieved a valuable first step into the world of published authorship. Dragon’s Pen judge and literary agent Lucy Luck will now be reading Stewart’s manuscript.
Stewart, who was put forward for the Dragon’s Pen event by the University of St Andrews English Department, said that “The event was extremely nerve wracking, but a great experience, because I received valuable feedback from professionals.” As well as taking part in the Dragon’s Pen event, Stewart also featured work for the University and StAnza endorsed ‘Turn the Corner: Art in Unexpected Places’ exhibition that ran for a week in March this year.