Novel idea scoops top award for town author

Fife author Daniel Shand has hit big with his first novel scooping the �10,000 prize.
Fife author Daniel Shand has hit big with his first novel scooping the �10,000 prize.

A creative writing student and budding author from Kirkcaldy has scooped one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes ... with his first novel.

Daniel Shand has won the much respected Betty Trask Prize for his debut novel ‘Fallow’, and with it a cheque for £10,000.

The judging panel marked out Daniel’s debut work for having‘outstanding literary merit’ for an author under the age of 35, and was presented the award at the Society of Authors’ annual ceremony in London earlier this month.

Daniel credits the University of Dundee’s writing practice and study course with setting him on the road to success, having studied there several years ago.

And he said winning the award outright came as something of a shock.

“I was pleased just to get nominated and shortlisted so it was a shock, but I’m delighted and incredibly proud that Fallow was selected by the judging panel,” Daniel told the Fife Free Press.

“Dundee was where it all started.

“I had no great plans at the time and while interested in writing and having always wanted to write a book, I was mainly just interested in finding out how it all worked.

“Writing in a workshop setting gave me the perfect foundation for my work.”

Fallow, published by Sandstone Press, tells of the relationship between two brothers bound by a terrible crime.

It is a tense and darkly comic thriller, lauded by fellow Scottish author Alan Warner as “a brilliant, unpredictable road novel.”

The 27-year-old, who this week also graduated at Edinburgh University having completed a PHD in creative writing, said the novel took about three years to get from the initial idea to finished product.

“I had the main idea for a short story of the two brothers sat together in a tent but not a lot more,“ he explained.

“I thought it would be interesting to explore how this odd couple, this double act, got there, what kept them together and a story started to unfold as I continued to write.

“The first draft was submitted in 2012 but it developed and changed quite a bit from there until the finished article in 2015.”

Having been busy studying for his finals, Daniel said he has yet to decide how he is going to spend the prize money, but has already got plans for a second novel and is hoping to head into a teaching career.

“Fallow was a stand alone novel and I’ve pretty much got a second, unrelated novel ready which hopefully should be published later this year,” he said.

“As for a ‘real job’, well I’ve a desire to go into teaching, and pass on the writing skills to a new set of potential writers and novelists.”