PITLOCHRY WINTER WORDS LITERARY FESTIVAL
Each January “Scotland’s literary year gets into gear” (said The Scotsman) with the prestigious Winter Words festival in the Pitlochry Festival Theatre. There are performances and workshops in poetry, history, fiction, memoirs, there are stories of places and people, of travel and exploration, and so on. One of the most popular events is the reading each evening of macabre short stories, with a Scottish flavour. Lights are dimmed, voices are hushed, as these Fearie Tales are read by professional actors. Scottish actors Martyn James, Helen Logan, Deirdre Davis and Dougal Lee have done the readings, the current partnership being Helen and Dougal.
Fearie Tales is a competitive contest – contestants submit their stories to the Festival, and the winners’ stories become the highlight of each evening’s entertainment. Our clients Lucy P Naylor and Marie Marshall are invariably in that number, Lucy’s tales being a particular favourite of the Artistic Director, or so we have heard. In 2010 the climax of Marie’s story The Place of Safety drew gasps from the audience; and during the reading of Lucy’s darkly humorous Cold Feet the audience “laughed in all the right places”, she said. Lucy’s story Betwixt and Between, read by Helen Logan again, started the telling of tales in 2011.
In 2013 Marie and Lucy were amongst the winners again, with Lucy’s Knit One, Pearl One being featured during the opening weekend of the festival, and Marie’s On The Platform during the final weekend. Lucy’s story was one of her typically humorous ones, telling how close nightclub life is to a total zombie apocalypse, while Marie’s told of a ghostly encounter at a railway station late at night – but of the two people meeting, which one was the ghost?
In 2014 the whole festival was rounded off with Marie’s chilling story with a Shetland flavour, Da Trow i’ da Waa, in which an author with writer’s block rents a cottage on the island of Yell – a cottage made from stones taken from two haunted houses, but before that from somewhere even more sinister.
Some of Lucy’s and Marie’s short stories, including Lucy’s Betwixt and Between from 2011 can be found in an anthology called Mercury Silver, published by P’Kaboo. The collection contains stories in all kinds of styles by other writers too, and is well worth downloading for your Kindle…
Marie and Lucy compete in Fearie Tales every year, along with some of Scotland’s and the UK’s finest short-story writers. Winter Words is always worth a visit. Guests have included Michael Portillo, Brian Blessed, Sally Magnusson, Tony Robinson, and many other names from literature, politics, and the media. Why not have a mid-winter break in the Scottish Highlands, and combine it with a week of entertainment and culture? Authors and short-story writers should keep an eye on Pitlochry Festival Theatre in December and January to find out about this competition.