As publication day for The Shouts Beneath approaches, I’m nervous and excited. Hearing Jade record it and seeing the first cover art was such a pleasure. I’m currently just allowing myself to enjoy a sense of pride for getting it written and having my words out in the world rather than worrying about how it will be received. My focus over the next year is getting my debut novel Marooned finished;, writing the novella has had me itching to sink my teeth into that larger piece of writing.

The Shouts Beneath was a real crash course in how to be a professional writer; in the industry, in the publishing process, and in writing. From the onset, a great aspect of the audiobook was that the idea came from a short horror film outline I had created and had buried in my drawer. When I was offered the chance to create a novella for Audible, I realised I could utilise and adapt it for an audio narrative instead of screen. It’s gratifying to realise that those ideas you jot down can come to fruition in unexpected ways down the line.

When it comes to my writing process, I can see a real change; I have a lot more patience with myself when it comes to getting words onto the page and have learnt that though there are days when it comes easily – that giddy inspirational rush of words – there are also days when you’re just trying to get from point A to point B and it’s fine if that bridge is imperfect, you can get it right in the second or third draft. Truly the biggest thing was experiencing the collaborative process of writing a story, having an editor to provide feedback and bounce concerns off helped me to get out of my own head and get an opinion from someone that I knew wanted the story to be the best it could. The last take away – and I’m not sure it’ll be a popular one – is that deadlines are important, but they aren’t everything. They’re a guiding star to work towards but ultimately if you need more time to get the story right, your agent, your editor and in this case Audible will do their best to work with you.

Discoveries has changed a lot of things for me as a writer. I don’t think when I first won it, I realised the impact it would have on my career. Half the challenge for writers when they first start out is getting an agent. Through Discoveries, I was signed to Curtis Brown’s Ciara Finan and that has had a huge effect, not just in obtaining the Audible commission which allowed me to make writing a large part of my income, but also in having someone to go to within the industry for advice and feedback. As writers, half the battle is keeping going and having faith in your work, Ciara is a voice of reason when I question that.

The prize money from Discoveries was great, too, and very useful. I used it to help pay to produce my first short film that will be coming out later in the year.

As well as the exposure and opportunities Discoveries has brought, the writing community it has given me has been unexpected and invaluable. I speak to my fellow shortlisted and longlisted writers for Discoveries 2023 regularly. We provide each other with support, feedback and encouragement. I don’t think there’s been a week in the last year that one of us hasn’t posted or messaged in our What’s App group. I also keep in touch with the 2021 and 2022 Discoveries winners Emma Van Straaten and Sui Annukka whose careers since winning have been inspiring to say the least. Hearing about my fellow Discoveries alumni getting signed, finishing drafts of their novels, witnessing the success of Sui and Emma, has been a real joy and made writing a community experience instead of the solitary one it so often is.