Blessed Assurance – A Debut Novel


Reviews for Blessed Assurance (2019)

“This is the writer I always dreamed of finding – a born stylist with a story as intimate and vast as all creation. Ennis is the Scottish James Joyce.” Meg Rosoff (How I Live Now)

“Stewart Ennis’s debut novel hovers constantly between comedy and tragedy. Small town Scotland is seen in perceptive detail through the eyes of an eleven-year old boy. Characters, like his fundamentalist grandmother, like the unforgettable itinerant preacher, Benjamin Mutch, leap into our heads and take us over. Steeped in matters of faith and rejection, the book offers a rare and fascinating glimpse into a past world which makes you turn the pages in a quest for answers.”
Bernard MacLaverty (Midwinter Break, Cal, Grace Notes)

“Stewart Ennis has drawn on his own faith fixated upbringing to recreate a sixties childhood like no other. We meet characters Mark Twain or Flannery O’Connor would have been proud to have begotten.  Cumulatively these vignettes take on a mass and momentum that propel this deep and deft, richly rewarding debut novel towards precincts of the psyche as yet unprowled in contemporary Scottish fiction.”  Donny O’Rourke (Dreamstate)

“Sometimes a novel comes along which reminds you why you fell in love with books in the first place. Prime examples for me would be Iain Banks The Wasp Factory and Ali Smith’s The Accidental and anything by Alan Warner, and to those can be added Stewart Ennis’s Blessed Assurance. It strikes the perfect balance between black comedy and teenage melancholy. But it’s Ennis’s language which impresses most and makes each page a joy to read. Stewart Ennis has written a novel which is truly relatable, and when was the last time you read one of those?” Alasdair Braidwood /Scots Whay Hae

“A fascinating piece of literature.  Joseph Kirkland is a character that feels both authentic and timeless. […] A beautifully crafted novel. […] I found the whole feeling of the book to be one of almost mystical beauty.” A Little Haze: Literary Book Blog

 “This is a vibrant and tense book […] brilliantly crafted by Ennis, with characters and the sense of community reminding me of people from my own home village all these years later. […] A beautifully written and ambitious debut, which is well worth the leap of faith.” The Common Space

“Ennis’s strong debut novel perfectly captures the claustrophobia of small town life. There is a distinct feeling of a world on the brink of collapse. With its simmering tensions and bloodstained bibles, Blessed Assurance reads like a Flannery O’Connor story with a distinctly Scottish twist. In this tragicomic tale of faith, grief and redemption, Blessed Assurance reminds us that ultimately it is people, and not religion, that will save us.” Book, Bell & Candle

“Entertaining and funny, with tender and tragic strands, and surreal humour, this is an engaging and touching book.”
The Bottle Imp (ASLS Best Scottish Books of 2019)

“We manoeuvre this fictional village through Joseph, inhaling the colour and the community. Kilhaugh seems sparkling and flamboyant, and Ennis captures the glint in the eye of this village. A tome that flows through these six days almost too quick, Ennis’ work is accessible yet glimmers with Scots.” The Fountain

With bookshops closed & book festivals cancelled, here are couple of Q & A / Reading videos I made in May 2020.

If you want to read my book, you can:

Buy it – with free UK delivery – direct from the publisher Vagabond Voices
Or – with f
ree worldwide delivery – from Book Depository
From any reputable -or disreputable – real or online bookshop.
Or borrow it from your local library!


INSTAMATIC – A Nocturne for Insomniacs and Wanderers During These Most Discombobulating of Days

INSTAMATIC (October 2020) is a photo-audio nocturne; a story in progress, that has still to reach a conclusion. It was created in collaboration with Khursheed Ali & scripted by myself, following a series of late night wanderings around the streets and alleyways of pandemic stricken New Delhi, and Glasgow in 2020.  Why make it? In these strange times of isolation and ever decreasing social circles it feels more important than ever to reach out and connect.

A couple of things folk have said  about Instamatic.

“Fantastic. What a superb idea but also just so gently, profoundly composed.” it.” SL

“Very atmospheric. There’s something magical about being alone in the middle of the night & contemplating the wider world.” LL

“Beautifully photographed images of two very different worlds brought together in strange harmony. The parallels of first world problems put into perspective. If this pandemic has taught us anything,  it’s  that we are very much the same though different.” J.B

“Everything about it was so tender and human and the photography is stunning. Loved it!” A.R

“Really, really good. I liked it a lot – the photography, the mixture if sadness and reality with some lighter moments, and the voices.”  N.T – Friends of Salaam Baalak Trust (New Delhi)

“Just saw the video and absolutely loved it!!!! WOW! ”  P.R – The Yuva Ekta Foundation (New Delhi)

A SOUP SONG – National Theatre of Scotland

(July 2020) This short monologue about love, grief  and soup, was written for the NTS Scenes for Survival project. It was directed by Nic Green & Peter McMaster and stars Annie Louis Ross.


GRANNY and GRANDPA  – Visible Fictions

(May 2020) This brief verse piece for children was written (and performed) for the Visible Fictions Phone Fictions project, one of the first projects to be produced during the Covid19 lockdown.

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Three Short Paragraphs Concerning  Teaching Creative Writing to Prisoners and How it Probably Helped My Writing More Than it Helped Theirs.

Prison Art Class Sink copy

The Prison Art Class Sink – This Is All I Can Show You

“Over the years I have written a great many stories and I still don’t know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.” John Steinbeck

Six years of questions I couldn’t answer often left me feeling a fraud, a failure.  Why couldn’t I give the prisoners/ students the magical mathematical [x + y = well written story] formula they -and I – wanted? Maybe I should just have scribbled the Steinbeck quote on the black board every morning, rolled up my sleeves, and yelled, “Okay guys, let’s go for it! Let’s take a chance!”

I say ‘we’ because rather than sit behind my increasingly threadbare curtain of  knowledge like Oz the Great and Powerful,  we usually all wrote together, then critique each others work. When we did go for it, well, nine times out of ten, our results were pretty dismal. That’s shite, went the critics around the table. Then, out of the blue, something would appear like some rare bird, to take our breath away.  That’s good! I’d say. How is it good?  the writer would reply, baffled and sceptical and unable to see anything of worth in his own work. And that would lead to a whole other discussion; fascinating, without conclusion, and furthering the disintegration of my curtain of knowledge.

Bedtime Stories for Beginners bw

Writer’s Room. Her Majesty’s Prison


skyemay (3 of 1)-29 copy

Writer’s Room. Lyth Arts. Caithness.

Working with men (occasionally women) in a maximum security prison has taught me a huge amount about my own writing and it really deserves more space than I’ve allowed it here. So, if you’d like to read more of my thoughts on the value of creative writing in a prison context, here’s a link to Bed Time Stories For Beginners, a little piece I wrote for Words Work Well: A Bibliotherapy Toolkit: http://wordsworkwellscotland.co.uk/lapidus_tool/e-bed-time-stories-for-beginners/

Page, Stage and Other Platforms

What you see below is a list of work that I’ve written over the years, for a variety of platforms;  stage, articles, literary publications, poetry readings and most recently, a novel. It says, Look I really have spent quite some time writing,  but it says nothing about what I’ve been writing about. On that note, here’s one of many things the great James Baldwin said that feels true:

“Every writer has only one story to tell, and he has to find a way of telling it until the meaning becomes clearer and clearer, until the story becomes at once more narrow and larger, more and more precise, more and more reverberating.”

And here is a list of all the different versions of my one story:

Published Work

  • Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary – (Poem) Shaping the World Anthology  – Pan MacMillan 2021
  • Causeway/Cabhsair (Editor) Magazine of Scottish & Irish Writing – Aberdeen University Press  2020/2021
  • Lions and Tigers and Bears – Poem – Pendemic 2020
  • Sixty Seven – StAnza Poetry Map of Scotland 2020
  • Blessed Assurance. Novel – Vagabond Voices – September 2019
  • A Puddock Turnt Intae Queen Margaret Drive – Poem – The Curlew 2019
  • Tapselteerie Day –  Poem – Scots Language Centre – 2019
  • A Cat is Not for Christmas – Poem – The Caterpillar /Moth Magazine (Dublin) – December /Winter Edition  2018
  • Visiting Time (Editor) An Anthology of Prison Writing – Vagabond Voices – 2019
  • Bedtime Stories for Beginners –  Creative Writing in Prison – Words Work Well 2015
  • Nuff  – Short Story – Gutter Magazine 2011
  • Goats On The Roof  – Short Story –  Gutter Magazine 2011
  • Mibbly – Short Story  Days Like These – Luath Press 2010
  • Therapist – Monologue – I Confess – Caipercaillie  Press, 2009
  • Last Train – Monologue – I Confess – Caipercaillie Press, 2009
  • Various Articles – Culture City Magazine 1990
  • Various Articles – Scottish Universal Newspapers 1980 81

Performed Work

  • The Little Auk of Inverkithkin – RSNO/Visible Fictions (in development) 2021
  • Three French Hens – Visible Fictions _ online 2020
  • Instamatic – The Occasion – online 2020
  • A Soup Song – National Theatre of Scotland – online 2020
  • Granny & Grandpa – Visible Fictions – online 2020
  • The Monster and Mary Shelley – The Occasion –  Scottish Tour 2018
  • A Thousand and One Antarctic Nights – HMP Shotts 2017
  • The Taking of Zena Charbonne – The Occasion (fka Benchtours) Scottish Tour 2015
  • Tick One Box – Ankur Productions / CCA – 2014
  • Fantoosh – Canny Productions – Edinburgh 2013-18
  • The Forgotten Orchard – (co-creator) Eco Drama – Scottish Tour  2012
  • One Straight Line – A Play A Pie & A Pint – Glasgow 2011
  • To A Bard – Paragon Ensemble – Glasgow 2010
  • Therapist – I Confess – The Arches Theatre 2009
  • Last Train – I Confess – The Arches Theatre 2009
  • Robert Burns Celtic Complex – The Arches Theatre 2006
  • The Tall Ship – Greenock Tall Ship Festival 2002
  • Ranters, Lovers, Chanters – Scottish Folk Ensemble – 1999
  • The Dark Room – For Your Pleasure/ The Arches Theatre 1999
  • Preacher Man – British Council / Kwacha Troupe – Malawi /Zambia/Tanzania 1997
  • Noah Part 1 & 2 – Theatre Urubaru – Tour of Finland / Sweden 1997/98
  • Which? – Which Theatre Co –  North of England Tour 1996

Other Written Work Platforms – Readings etc

  • Once Upon a Time  – Collaboration with Skye Loneragan, Cranhill ESOL, Glasgow Life – 2021
  • Scottish PEN – Prison Workshops – 2021
  • WayWORD Book Festival, Aberdeen – Reading -2020
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival -Author Event – 2020 (cancelled due to Covid-19)
  • Aye Write Book Festival Glasgow- Author Event – 2020  (cancelled due to Covid-19)
  • Uxbridge Book Festival, London – Author Event – 2020
  • HMP Barlinnie, HMP Dumfries, HMP Low Moss – Scottish Book Trust, Live Literature event – 2020
  • Waterstones Books, Glasgow – Author Event – 2019
  • Blackwell’s Bookshop, Aberdeen – Author Event – 2019
  • Poems for Rebel Children – Scottish Book Trust , Live Literature –  2018
  • New Christmas Poems – Friends of the River Kelvin – 2018
  • New Children’s Poems – Kibble Palace, Botanic Gardens – 2016
  • New Poems & Stories – The Story Garden – 2012
  • Gutter Magazine – Live Literature at Tchai-Ovna – 2011
  • Poems for Children – The Poetry Post Box – Botanic Garden Glasgow 2004 -10
  • Various Stories – Contributing artist – Snowball – Reeling & Writhing 2011
  • Various Poems – Freight Poetry  – Tchai Ovna – 2011
  • Various Songs – Christmas shows – The Arches  2005 – 2008
  • Poems for Children – SPT Bard on Board (with John Rice) – 2010
  • Toast To The Lassies – A Leonard Cohen Supper – Vital Synz Poetry Soc 2009
  • Various Articles and Reviews – Culture City Magazine 1990
  • Various Local News  – Scottish Universal Newspapers 1979-80
  • Mildly Scurrilous News Reports – Tent Peg Telegraph Boy’s Brigade  Camp Daily Rag 1977

Further Links to My Writing Work

Scottish Book Trust Live Literature: Author page

Playwrights Studio Scotland: Playwright page