A short story of three researchers trapped in a sea of insects who quickly succumb to the inevitably of their fate is the winner of the first University of the Highlands and Islands Peter May fiction prize.
Written by Gary Groves, aged 43, from Elgin, titled ‘Monads', the winning submission, selected from a shortlist of five, wins £1000.
Kindly donated by Peter May in 2021, as part of the university's tenth birthday, this new prize provides a decade of student prizes for fictional writing.
Peter May, international bestselling crime writer, Scottish television screenwriter and novelist, said: "I wasn't quite sure what to expect and have been delighted with the quality of the shortlisted submissions. I want to praise all those who entered and encourage everyone to keep writing.
"Gary's work stood out. He draws us into the frightening, claustrophobic world of the research pod in this strange and compelling story. He vividly delivers a metaphor of acceptance and surrender to age, with its accompanying deterioration of the mind. I look forward to reading what comes next."
Winning writer Gary, a student on the BA (Hons) creative writing in the Highlands and Islands said: "Receiving this prize has been a major confidence boost and it's been a real journey to get to this point. I have so much gratitude for the people who make the course what it is, both lecturers and students, and Peter who has done an amazing thing in founding this new prize to support the development of creative writing at the University of the Highlands and Islands.
"When I started the course in 2018, I didn't know what to expect. I was a mature student returning to studying and was worried that I would be the odd one out in the class. Although I had written a number of short stories in the past, I had never actually shown them to anyone and was hesitant to let other people read what I had written. I'm in my third year now and I am already thinking about continuing to postgraduate studies."
The annual competition, coordinated by the university's development and alumni team, is open to all further and higher education students at the university and 2022 graduates. Submissions are welcomed in Gaelic, Scots or English by the 14 October 2022.