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With two books published, a bursary win, and a guest appearance at COP26 in Glasgow, 2021 was a non-stop year for writer and poet Donald S Murray.

And 2022 is shaping up to be no different, with several projects in the pipeline, including the development of a play about Tiree-born sea captain, Donald Mackinnon who won the Great Tea Clipper Race of 1866.

Indeed, the Theatre Gu Leor bursary-supported play continues, to an extent, the nautical theme of 2021’s For the Safety of All, a guided tour of lighthouses through history, storytelling and the voices of the lightkeepers. 

His first book of 2021, In a Veil of Mist, was a haunting exploration of Operation Cauldron, a secret chemical weapons test off the coast of Lewis in the 1950s. The novel won The Times Historical Fiction Book of the Month and has been longlisted for the Highland Book Prize.

The multi-talented writer also scored success with his poetry in November when his poetry pamphlet, Achanalt, published by Roncadora Press, won the Callum MacDonald Memorial Award.

The win came in the wake of Donald’s being selected as one of three Scots poets to give a reading at the COP 26 climate change summit in Glasgow. 

Meanwhile, a guest appearance in October to speak at an Italian Cultural Institute event in London has now been rescheduled for an as yet unconfirmed date in 2022. The theme is “Our Relationship with Nature,” and Donald is set to talk about his 2021 book, In a Veil of Mist.

With his burgeoning literary reputation and profile, Donald also joined the Society of Authors in Scotland as a committee member. The society is effectively the trades union for authors. As a volunteer, Donald will be helping to look out for the interests of writers, illustrators and literary translators across the Highlands and Islands.

In this capacity, Donald interviewed debut novelist Douglas Stuart about his hit bestseller, Shuggie Bain. The virtual event delved into the Booker prize winner’s work, creative process, and how authors can reach out to connect with their readers.

However, 2021 was not just about getting quality time with his keyboard. Donald also collaborated closely with a musician to take his work into new dimensions.

A collaboration with top young composer Electra Perivolaris from the isle of Arran saw Donald’s poetry set to music for a BBC Radio 3 broadcast. And his poetry also featured as an original piece for the Cheltenham Music Festival Composer Academy week.

And amongst this all, Donald still managed to return to the classroom to teach English one or two days a week. This is somewhat ironic given that Donald discovered his play, ‘Sequamur’, is now being used in English classes in some Scottish secondary schools.

There’s no sign of his hectic existence letting up in 2022. As the Women Lay Dreaming is set to be published in the USA and Canada in May, to be followed in October by In a Veil of Mist.

Reveals Donald: “I hope to use the Callum Macdonald Award - which has conditions attached  - as a way of funding research into two new books as well as funding appearances at various book festivals in Canada and the States.”

He is also in the closing stages of completing a new novel, ‘The Count of St Kilda.’

“This is my most substantial one yet and links the Faroe Islands, North Uist, Iceland, Harris, Berlin and Copenhagen around the time of the First and Second World War. It’s based on the life of a real person whom I found out about during a visit to Iceland a few years ago.  It’s certainly my most ambitious and longest,” the writer divulged. 

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