Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives through reading and writing, is delighted to announce that the four Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowships for 2018 have been awarded to Jenni Fagan, David Keenan, Theresa Muñoz and Shane Strachan.
The Fellowship was initiated in 1994 by Franki Fewkes, a Scottish Robert Louis Stevenson enthusiast, and is supported by Creative Scotland. Intended to give writers a chance to escape the routine and distractions of their everyday lives to devote time to their writing, it provides residencies for four writers at the Hôtel Chevillon International Arts Centre at Grez-sur-Loing, France. Travel and accommodation costs are covered, plus a grant of £300 per week for living expenses.
Grez-sur-Loing is at the edge of the Forest of Fontainebleau and was chosen because of its connections with Robert Louis Stevenson who first visited in 1875. It was there, at the Hôtel Chevillon, that he met his future wife Fanny Osbourne.
Previous Fellows include Liz Lochhead, Janice Galloway, Jo Clifford, James Robertson and Louise Welsh.
The 2018 Robert Louis Stevenson Fellows
Jenni Fagan is a novelist, poet and screenwriter based in Edinburgh. Her debut novel The Panopticon was published in 2012 and received worldwide critical acclaim. Jenni was the only Scottish writer on the Granta Best of Young British Novelists 2013 and has also been on lists for the IMPAC Dublin
Literary Award, Sunday Times Short Story Prize, BBC Short Story Award, Desmond Elliott Prize, Pushcart Prize and James Tait Black Prize. After many years of deliberation, Jenni has decided to write her memoir, stating that the retreat provided by the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship will give her the ideal space and time to take on such a personally challenging book.
Jenni Fagan said:
I am hugely grateful for the opportunity to take a Robert Louis Stevenson fellowship. It is one I have dreamt of for years and I feel lucky to have this chance at a time where I really will benefit from the support put in place by Scottish Book Trust. I look forward to immersing myself in daily life at Hotel Chevillon and exploring the area so dear to Robert Louis Stevenson, all those years ago.
David Keenan grew up in Airdrie and is now based in Glasgow. A senior critic for The Wire, he is also the author of two books: England’s Hidden Reverse and This is Memorial Device, his debut novel, which was a Telegraph and Rough Trade Book of the Year and shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize 2017.
Edinburgh-based poet Theresa Muñoz also received a Fellowship, and is currently Research Associate at the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts at Newcastle University, where she helps coordinate the Newcastle Poetry Festival. Her debut book of poems Settle (Vagabond Voices, 2016) was shortlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize. Theresa plans to work on a sequence of villanelles which span the themes of race, gender, relationships and loss, most set against a Scottish backdrop.
Theresa Muñoz said:
I was so excited and filled with gratitude when I got the call about the fellowship, which was completely unexpected. This is a fantastic opportunity to work on a sequence of villanelles that will have a significant place in my next poetry collection. This is my first writing residency and I can’t wait to get going. Thank you to Scottish Book Trust and the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship for making a major difference to my writing life!
Shane Strachan has lived in Aberdeen for more than a decade. Much of his work is inspired by the Northeast of Scotland and its relationship with the wider world; it often features an accessible use of Northeast Scots (Doric). In 2018, he was chosen as a mentor for Queer Words Project Scotland and he has also received a Muriel Spark 100 funding award to create new short stories inspired by Spark’s time in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Shane’s Fellowship project is a novelisation of the life of Bill Gibb, a farm boy from Aberdeenshire who went on to take the fashion world by storm in the 1970s, designing dresses worn by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Bianca Jagger and Twiggy.