Douglas Stuart

Literary Birthday – 31 May – Douglas Stuart

Happy Birthday, Douglas Stuart, born 31 May 1976.


  1. I think one of the greatest things you can do when you’ve been a child who’s suffered trauma and been around addiction where you have absolutely no control over it, is actually to turn it into art.
  2. I’m always really inspired by very tender souls in tough places. I like gentleness in men. I like feeling and empathy.
  3. I write full time now so I try to have the discipline of arriving at my desk after breakfast every morning. But I’m not too hard on myself if it doesn’t come to anything.
  4. Thinking and living and stepping back to consider your work are as necessary as writing itself.
  5. I wrote Shuggie in the margins of the day. Once the book had its hooks in me the rest of my working week felt like an obstacle to overcome before I could return to my characters. There were periods where their stories swallowed me so completely. Writing this book definitely tested my marriage – my obsession with my writing has ruined many family holidays!
  6. Because I live in a chaotic city, I find my most valuable tool is noise cancelling headphones. When I have those on, I can focus for hours.
  7. The craft of textiles and the craft of fashion teaches you a lot about writing. I would never say they were similar, but when you can make cloth from the yarn stage—when you can take something and loop it on itself, the repetition of those tiny little gestures that start to build something so much bigger than that one stitch—it gives you a patience that is really good to apply to writing. Because there is a craft to writing where you start on the tiniest sentence level and you build and you build and you build.
  8. I want to drop the reader right into the middle of this domestic scene, and because I didn’t come from a creative-writing background, I had to rely on my visual skills in order to create this world. It took a little bit of time to get started, but once I understood that, that was my voice.
  9. I was rejected by 32 editors, but rejection is an integral part of being a writer, whether it’s from an agent, a critic, or readers. It’s an important lesson for any writer. I’m not sure I understood that at the time but I definitely do now.
  10. When I was writing it, I didn’t necessarily know it would have any readers or even be published, so I wrote it for the characters.
  11. Attention was not something I was looking for. It was enough to write the book. I’m naturally quite introverted and for me, to be a writer is about writing. I just wanted to write the best book I could.

Douglas Stuart is a Scottish-American writer and fashion designer. His debut novel, Shuggie Bain, was awarded the 2020 Booker Prize. He is currently at work on his second novel, Loch Awe. His short stories, ‘Found Wanting’, and ‘The Englishman’, were published in The New Yorker magazine. His essay, ‘Poverty, Anxiety, and Gender in Scottish Working-Class Literature’ was published by Lit Hub.

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librairie mollat, CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

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by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 30th May 2021