Ross Hunter spoke with Scots Scriever Susi Briggs about the 10 things that changed her life. 

Faimily and Freens

I hae been blessed wi the best mither and faither.

They are fu o stories and nonsense. I am the youngest o fower weans wi a twin brother and twa aulder sisters. I hae vivid memories o childhood that I affen revisit in poetry or storytelling.

I grew up in the 80s in a cooncil hoose wi a healthy disdain for Maggie Thatcher cos she stole the milk aff the schuil weans. My faimily and freens hae provided me a wi a strang foundation o love. I met my best pal Kate Lockhart at high schuil and she’s been there at the biggest moments o my life. Haudin me thegither when I wis broken and cheering me on at my best. There’s been mony freens that hae chynged my life. That foundation o love has helped me tae staun back up again when life has hit me haurd.

I hae fower bonny bairns and I strive tae gie them the best foundation tae. Bringing them intae the warld and makin shair they are happy has been the biggest chynge and motivator in my life. Reuniting wi my teenage sweetheart efter 24 years chynged my life fer the better. Love is a wonderfu thing.

Schuil days

There’s been mony life chynging moments in my education. In primary schuil oor Dominie wis called Mr Ogilvie. He encouraged us tae learn aboot Scots language and Scots culture. He wis President o the Robert Burns World Federation for a time when I wis at Lincluden Primary School.

I mind Mrs Collier the music teacher wi her bonny turquoise eyeshaddy. She taught us tae play Ye Banks and Braes on the tin whistle and she coaxed me intae playing a solo on the stage at the Burns Supper event. I got a big cheer and I think that made a big impression. I hae been showing aff ever since.

I wid gan intae the care home on my way back fae schuil and play wee tunes fer the auld folks. I wid get a wee cheer and cuddles fae the auld wifies. Early Music Matters days.

The National: Robert Burns

Mr Ogilvie’s passion fer Scots language and culture gied me an early sense o place in my national identity. Later on, at High Schuil I had twa amazing English teachers, Mr and Mrs Glanton wha taught me tae be bold, tae express masel and tae read between the spaces atween words. Tae fully appreciate the meaning and the texture o the written word.


My faimily are natural storytellers. They can spin a tale and mak ye laugh or greet. My Papa Briggs wid sit me on his knee and tell me oorie stories and I loved it! My faither telt me stories when I wi wee aboot a wizardry man, Dr Giggligog wha bided in the Giggligog Forest in fairylaun.

My Mam wid tell us stories aboot hilarious anecdotes or scary stories tae warn us weans tae bide awa fae dangerous sitiuations. We didna need the PSA adverts when Mam wis aroon. Later on in life, I discovered the airt o oral storytelling fae Tony Bonning. He’s an inspirational tradition bearer! Becoming a registered storyteller at the Scottish Storytelling Centre wi a big moment in my life.

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I sometimes tell stories in my ither persona Susi Sweet Pea the Fairy. A character I made tae hide my nerves behin when I created The Wee Folk Storytellers wi Alan McClure back in the early days. I dinna need tae be Susi Sweet Pea Fairy Storyteller these days but ower the years she became very loved and welcomed at events.


When I wis 19 year auld I had muckle dreams o being a writer. The Holywood Trust charity gifted me a computer tae work on. I loved that big old beige PC. I really loved gan tae The Bakehouse in Gatehouse o Fleet to listen tae poets and writers talk. This is whaur I wis captivated by mony Scots Language poets, but one in particular stood oot and that wis the lovely Josie Neill.

In later years during a difficult chapter o my life I discovered the open mic scene in Dumfries including Brave New Words at the Stove Network.It wis here that I felt truly nurtured and safe. I kent then I had tae mak a go o it as a freelance airtist.

Getting published 

I affen recall the day I met Ruthie Redden wha illustrated the Nip Nebs stories. She wis inspired tae connect wi me cos I wis creating fairy events in the area at that time. Oor love o aw things Fae had connected us. Ruthie wanted tae illustrate my story poem “Nip Nebs” in her spare time.

We hoped and kent we wid achieve oor dream o haen Nip Nebs published despite the industry experts saying it wis too niche! We were so lucky in the end tae when Curly Tale Books publishers saw the Nip Nebs illustrations at a rural art exhibition in Bladnoch and offered tae publish it.

The National:

I widna be whaur I am the day as a writer, withoot the talent and freenship o Ruthie.

Getting commissions fer tae write new stories and translations in Scots has made a huge impact on my life. Nip Nebs, Nip Nebs and the Last Berry and Wheesht were shortlisted for Scots Bairns’ Book o the Year at the Scots Language Awards. I wunner if Yum will mak the list this year! (Briggs's new book Yum will be launched in Spring and is published by Foggie Toddle Books with illustrations by Charlotte Brayley) 

Scots Scriever

Getting the role o Scots Scriever and representing Dumfries and Galloway has brocht me muckle joy. As a freelancer I have ey just plowed ma ain furrow and got on wi it. I didna gan tae university and I bailed oot o college when I wis young. As a creative freelancer I developed a work ethic that made shair that I ainly did the work I wis passionate aboot.

Haen this role has gien me an affirmation that aw that hard work has been worth it. I canna wait tae see whit I achieve by the end o my time wi the National Library o Scotland.

Wave Blues Band

In 2019 I joined Wave Blues Band as their vocalist. The lockdoons stapped aw gigs but we kept up rehearsals when we were able tae. I made it my mission tae gie it laldy as syn as we got oorsels back tae gigging. I've been gien it laldy ever since! I absolutely adore my blues brothers.

I met them in an affy unusual place fer a blues band tae be daen a gig. They were performing on the mezzanine flair in the Kirkcudbright Art Gallery. The lead guitarist Brian Thomson came up and asked me if I liked the blues and I said “Aye -I sing the blues at hame.”

The National:

He smiled and asked if I wanted to sing in the band. The rest is history.

In fact, my wean’s story Wheesht is a direct inspiration fae when I wis learning Big Mama Thornton’s song Hound Dog wi Wave Blues Band.

I howl at the end of the song just like Shug the dug dis aw through the story Wheesht!

Oor Wee Podcast 

Creating Oor Wee Podcast wi my freen Alan McClure has been an incredibly joyfu experience. We ey felt there wis a lack o representation o Scots speakers in the mainstream especially fer weans.

Inspired by the Storyteller cassettes fae the 1980s and classic Ladybird books we decided tae create the story and sang show during the lockdoons. We had plenty o time and we could swap files back and forth o oor recordings.

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The show contains baith contemporary new writing fae masel and Alan. I also love tae pit ma ain twist on classic tales like Chicken Licken and Wee Rid Riding Hood. I still laugh listening back tae the episodes. We hae a lot o plans fer Oor Wee Podcast this year.

Music Matters

Creating and leading Music Matters sessions wis a very important pairt o my life. Music Matters is an interactive and inclusive session specifically tailored tae the individuals and groups that I wid meet regularly in Nursing and Care Homes.

Prior tae the Covid crisis shutting awbdy oot, I wis regularly leadin several groups. It broke my hert when it aw shut doon. I learned hoo important it is tae fin weys tae connect wi others. Music has ey been a brig fer that meaningfu connection tae happen, especially wi folk that hae dementia. That time o my life inspired me greatly and I look back fondly.


I used tae write in English cos that wis aw I kent tae write in. I wrote an English story wi yin Scots word in it. The Wee Sleepy Sheepy. I sent it awa tae publishers but it kept getting rejected.

Then yin day a letter arrived that said they wid publish The Wee Sleepy Sheepy story if I “omit the Scottish flavour” They were meaning the word “WEE”. I wis enraged by the implication my language wis just a flavour. That wis the spark amang the heather fer me tae learn tae be literate in Scots and write books fer weans.

During a stormy period o my life, I discovered my ain power and worth wi the help o Dumfriesshire and Stewartry Womens Aid. I learned hoo resourcefu and strang I truly wis. I mind yin particular bit o advice fae my big sister Debbie during this time as weel – get yersel a new haircut, buy yersel a nice dress and get a new lipstick. So I did.

Still, tae this day I will wear dresses wi pockets just so I can keep a red lipstick in it. A reminder tae love masel mair.

Susi Briggs' debut Scots poetry collection Blessin will published by Drunk Muse Press this summer.