AN author from Renfrew who had to learn to read and write again after suffering a brain injury as a teenager has been nominated for a book award. 

Ely Percy’s novel Duck Feet, published in March, has been nominated for Scots Book of the Year, sponsored by Scottish Book Trust, in the Scots Language Awards. 

The coming-of-age novel is written in Scots and follows a young girl Kirsty Campbell as she navigates through her high school years in Renfrewshire. 

The 43-year-old, who has written two novels and a memoir, said: “I could not believe it, this is a very elite writing course. I am absolutely delighted, it really could be a game changer for me.”

At age 14, Ely had an accident and had to learn to read and write again. 

“I ended up writing really bad poetry,” they said. 

The Gazette: Ely suffered a brain injury following an accident at age 14Ely suffered a brain injury following an accident at age 14

“I was really angry at the world that I couldn’t do stuff and nobody understood me.

“I used to write letters to BIG! Magazine and would write twice a week. This was the 90’s and people were writing to penpals, and I ran out of folk to write letters to.”

Ely added: “About three or four months later, I was in the dinner hall at school and someone told me I was famous. I didn’t know what they were talking about but I had a letter in BIG! magazine.

“I was writing terrible poetry and my mum sent one to a magazine behind my back and that got published.

“I was 19 when I went to a creative writing class. People would ask me why someone from Renfrew would want to do that? I’m working class, it is for people who are posh and don’t need to work.”

Ely also recently won the John Le Carre Scholarship. For the application process, they needed a synopsis for a novel.

Luckily, Ely had 18 years of ideas running around their head about a story they wanted to write.

The Gazette: The book was published in March this yearThe book was published in March this year (Image: Newsquest)

King Street, the novel they are currently working on, asks questions of society at the time of the idea in 2003, and it is still relevant today.

Ely said: “It was just a short story that I had written. A couple of years later, I tried writing it as a whole novel, and I just couldn’t write it.

“The short story was about a group of women that went into a pub dressed as men as a social experiment.

“It was one of the fastest short stories I have ever written. I just sat down, wrote it, typed it up and sent it to my editorial group and they thought it was really funny. It just kind of haunted me for years.”

The Scots Language Awards are in the Gardyne Theatre, Dundee on September 25 at 7pm.