A stretch of the Scottish coastline, though deceptively close to the port of Dundee in one direction, and the ancient city of St Andrews in the other, was a lonely expanse of sand dunes little more than a hundred years ago. Nowadays there is a pinewood and a car park near one end of it, and tracks to walk, but back then it was a solitary, almost inaccessible area. Somewhere, hidden in the dunes and pines, is an old ice-house, once used for storing salmon. A young woman, out for a day’s hike in the summer of 1919, stumbles across it, and awakens an old, dark mystery…
That is the premise for my eerie short story ‘The Ice-House’, and if you come along to the Pitlochry Festival Theatre on Friday 12th February, you will hear the whole tale unfold, as it is read out to the audience there by actor Helen Logan. Yes, once again one of my stories will feature as a winner in the Winter Words Festival‘s competition – ‘Fearie Tales’.
The time, 9.30pm. The venue, the River Room at Pitlochry Festival Theatre. I dare you to be there!
As I said in my last post, I have been amongst the winning entries in the ‘Fearie Tales’ Competition six times now, in eight years. They don’t rank the eight winners, but it’s a safe bet if you have been scheduled to round off a Saturday evening’s storytelling you can be pretty proud of yourself. I had that spot on Saturday 14th February, and pro actor Helen Logan read out, or rather performed, my story ‘Voices’.
The story concerns an Australian scientist – a woman with one foot in rationalism and the other foot in the ‘Dream Time’ of an old Aboriginal mentor – who camps at the summit of a remote Scottish mountain, intent on investigating ‘random voice phenomena’. What happens next defies explanation. Is it supernatural? Is it psychological? Whichever, the consequences are dire. It is all set out in the spoken commentary to her video diary.
Helen Logan, for whom I had specifically written the story having seen her deliver my previous story, threw herself into the role of the Queenslander, pitching the disintegration of the narrator’s mind at quite a high level of histrionics. It worked; at times it was comic, and at other times it was terrifying.
Despite this being my sixth win, it was only my second visit, thanks to the kindness of my ‘fan base’. I lurked at the back of a full room. ‘Fearie Tales’ is popular with festival-goers, and it was good to hear my work being applauded.
I now have quite a portfolio of short stories. A handful of them have been blogged, six of them have now been read aloud publicly, but many of them are simply set by in case they are needed. If collected together, they would make a decent-sized book. I shall have to think what to do with them. Maybe I should consult my agent (a good idea anyway) and discuss options.
By the way, the folk at Indies Unlimited asked me to expand a comment I made on an article about self-publishing into an article in its own right. They asked me to set up an ‘author page’ at Amazon, which is one of the features they like anyone to have, if they are due to be featured on their site. So I have done just that. Just check out amazon.com/author/marie_marshall. The four books of mine which are available at Amazon (not counting the books I have had a hand in editing, or in which work of mine is featured) are listed there.
This weekend sees the start of the annual Winter Words Festival at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, the literary festival that kicks of Scotland’s literary year. Each evening two professional actors will be reading out two macabre stories, winners of the annual ‘Fearie Tales’ competition. I’m proud to announce that for yet another year I am amongst the winners! My short story ‘Voices’ will be featured this coming Saturday evening, 14th February! So if you are near Pitlochry in the Scottish Highlands this Saturday evening, drop in… the terror begins at 9.45pm!