Rachael Fulton is a Scottish writer who was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Short Story Award. She explains how she went from an unknown to the one to watch in Scottish literature.
Surrounded by big names, award recipients and even a Pulitzer prize winner, Rachael Fulton was described by the Sunday Times in its short story award shortlist as ‘an unknown’. Rachael wrote her entry during the beginning of lockdown in the Kings Arms, a hotel run by her parents in her hometown Castle Douglas. Her story Call earned her a place among some of the best writers from across the globe and a chance of winning £30,000.
“I was completely overwhelmed if I’m honest, despite the fact you’re meant to pretend that everything is cool and you’re taking everything in your stride…
“I was just happy to make that top 15. I was over the moon at that and then when I made the top 6, I was like ‘this is serious. Things are getting really, really getting intense’.”
As Rachael progressed further into the competition, a sense of expectation developed with her. Although she missed out, she is determined to make the most of her success.
Rachel says: “There’s definitely a sense that now you’re competing with the big boys and girls. You get that sense of wanting to maintain that standard and that level of interest in your work so I do feel pressure in that I want everything I put out to be, you know, call level received.”
Call is an emotionally charged glimpse into a relationship between two heartbroken sisters. Written during lockdown its themes of grief, longing and the need for catharsis are likely to resonate with critics and readers alike.
Rachael says: “The fact that some themes, issues and personal reflections that live inside of me can go on and make such a profound impact on other people. That was huge. That was a real relief, knowing that I had connected with people I hadn’t even met.”
Now seen as an emerging literary talent, criticism will invariably follow from her peers and herself. However, for Rachael success is measured in her reader’s emotional response, she says:
“As long as people feel something about my work, I’m happy. the worst case would be a holiday book scenario where people pick it up and read it and go ‘yeah, finished it, but I have no comment… In everything I write the full intention is that I want people to feel something. Whether that’s for the characters, the prose, the way that I’ve worded something or for the themes, I just want to move them in some way. If I don’t do that, that’s the only time I failed at what I’m doing”
Since reaching the final 6 of the competition, Rachael has signed an agent, started work on a novel and been approached by several publishers. There is so much more for her to achieve but that doesn’t stop her from appreciating the moment.
She says: “I definitely always wanted to be a writer, but in the sort of way children always want to be like an astronaut or a pop star. It’s like the back of your mind is longing for the ideal career but the idea of even putting the wheels in motion to realise the dream was just a fantasy for me.”