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Which tale will terrify the most at Storytelling Festival finale?

The Storytellers

Halloween is a great time to visit Edinburgh with its rich autumn traditions and macabre associations, with Virgin Atlantic’s Blog Team stating “Auld Reekie comes to life” at this time of year, especially as the Storytelling Festival and associated Samhuinn celebrations contribute wholesomely to the offering, beyond the frights and chills of ghost tours as storytellers Mara Menzies and Fiona Herbert comment in the above article.

There was a hush amidst the Scottish International Storytelling Festival staff as they waited with baited breath to announce the winners of the Ghost Story Competition in partnership with the National Library of Scotland, for the finale event of this year’s Festival of Dreams.

The competition was launched to coincide with the two hundred and fifty year anniversary of Lord Byron’s challenge at Lake Geneva, which resulted in 18 year old Mary Shelley penning the classic gothic thriller Frankenstein.

The judges – Storytelling Festival Director Donald Smith, Storyteller David Campbell, National Library of Scotland’s Literature and Arts Curator Andrew Martin and the Library’s Learning and Outreach Officer Beverley Casebow had the unenviable task of narrowing down the almost 300 entries, received from as close as the Canongate to as far as Canada.

Astounded by the quality, the judges decided to increase the winners circle from six stories to ten, with the overall winner being announced on the night, after each tale has been told aloud so the audience chose which terrifies the most in the moment.

There’s been an overwhelming response to the competition. The quality of the writing and variety of the stories is really impressive, and it was extremely difficult to narrow the entries down to a final shortlist. I’m glad I didn’t read through them at home alone!

Beverley Casebow

There are horrors aplenty reflecting all the tropes of pursuit, confinement and extreme violence, with clever variations on malice, from traditional tales of spirits trying to communicate for nice or nasty reasons through to tales dealing with modern living and how digital technology allows us to be intimately vindictive at a safe distance. There will be a magic in the room at this live event, as in live storytelling a look or tone of voice can achieve subtler yet more immediate effects than words on a page.

Donald Smith

So without further ado, here are the details of the winners and their stories!

Creely’s Bible by Alastair Chisholm

Alastair is a writer and computer geek who lives in Edinburgh and loves to walk around the city hunting for ghosts.  He is the author of two upcoming children's books (Inch and Grub and The Interrupted Prince), to be published by Walker Books.  He lives with his wife, two children and a cat; his wife is lovely, his children are lovely but very loud and his cat is just ridiculous.

Creely’s Bible follows the story of Fergus Creely, a solicitor in Edinburgh in 1908 who has committed a terrible deed...

Told by storyteller Fiona Herbert.

Writing on the Wall by Judy Upton

Judy was born in Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex and usually works as a playwright and screenwriter, having won the George Devine, Verity Bargate and Croydon International Awards for her plays, including Ashes and Sand and Bruises. Published stories include My Loving Blood (Company Magazine), Would You, Could You (The Yellow Room), Crying Wolf (Pages of Stories), The Beetles (Sixfoot Gallery magazine) and Driving Man (Cargo Collective).

Writing on the Wall explores two graffiti artists tormented by mystery tagger David Macleish who has a reputation for violence...

Told by storyteller Ian Stephen.

A Lang Time Ago by Ethyl Smith

Ethyl was originally a children’s illustrator and design lecturer. She is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde Novel Writing course and the Stirling University MLitt Creative Writing course, with numerous short stories published in a range of publications, including, Scottish Field and Gutter Magazine. Her debut novel, Changed Times, is part one of a trilogy on 17th century Scotland – conveying traumatic events through the eyes and lives of individual people.

A Lang Time Ago shares the story of a late night trip home from the cinema on a stormy night, with chips...

Told by storyteller Tim Porteus.

The Tapestry House by Ewan Irvine

Ewan is a Hypnotherapist and Psychic Medium working in Edinburgh and further afield. He has a great interest in the Paranormal and has investigated many a ghostly tale, as well as pen them. He is currently writing his first book entitled A Road Must Travelled, inspired by his experience of caring for his mother who suffered from dementia.

The Tapestry House tells the tale of a Bed and Breakfast owner who learns the history of his building...

Told by storyteller Michael Williams.

A Kentish Longtail by Rose McGinty

Rose  is a writer and painter. She studied literature at the University of Kent, and her M.Phil at Trinity College, Dublin. She lives in England, where she works in community health services. Her debut novel Electric Souk will be published by Urbane Publications in March 2017. She also enjoys writing short stories, poetry and flash fiction and was the winner of the inaugural Kent Life magazine short story competition with Dreamland.

A Kentish Longtail is based on an old English folk legend, where there’s a collective calamity in a small village, for which someone has to be blamed...

Told by storyteller Daniel Allison.

Lilith and Gardi’s Adventures by Christopher McNiven

Christopher started writing fiction 3 years ago whilst living in California, encouraged by his wife, and since then has not looked back. He currently lives in Perth and juggles his time between working as an environmental consultant in Edinburgh and writing, with the aim of publishing his first novel next year under his pen name, L.A. Scott.

Lilith and Gardi’s Adventures follows the ventures of a fearless 5 year old girl’s visit to the library and one particularly engrossing book...

Told by storyteller Claire Druett.

The Green Hand by Maureen Watson

Maureen was born and bred in Edinburgh. She has always had a passion for her native Scots tongue, spoken by her great grandfather Jock Watson. This competition inspired her to pen her first short story, inspired by a legend she heard as a local history tutor and she is delighted her tale has been chosen and is inspired and encouraged to write more short stories in Scots to showcase its humour and imagery, as well as the oodles of tradition contained in the whimsical language.

The Green Hand is set in Ellen's Glen, Liberton where a mysterious figure seems to be accompanying the faery queen on her white horse...

Told by storyteller Tim Porteus.

The Telling of a Ghost Story by Andrew Tucker

Andy lives in Marchmont with his family and has played in bands for many years, before more recently branching out as a writer. He was a recent finalist in the Channel 4/Oran Mor Comedy Drama Award and the UK Film Festival Script Competition, and a semifinalist in the International Bluecat Screenplay Competition. He’s currently writing hisfirst novel, which is about killer plants.

The Telling of a Ghost Story shares the experience of a storyteller’s gig, at which the audience is less than enthused...

Told by storyteller Fiona Herbert.

A Winter Visitor by Joel Pierce

Joel resides in Banchory, which is about ten miles southwest of Aberdeen and splits his time between his roles as a minister's husband, office manager at a software company, post-graduate student in Divinity, and pantomime dame

A Winter Visitor shares the story of Mrs Clement, who takes in a young girl who shows up in the village after sunset one mid-October night...

Told by storyteller Michael Williams.

Dead Souls II: The Congregation by Donald S Murray

Donald is from Ness in the Isle of Lewis. A former teacher now living in Shetland, his books include The Guga Hunters and And On This Rock (Birlinn) as well as The Guga Stone (Luath Press) and his multimedia Gaelic language play, Sequamur. His latest book, Herring Tales (Bloomsbury) was chosen as one of the Guardian’s Nature Books of the Year.

The Congregation is inspired by and a tribute to the tales Donald and his twelve year old classmates would tell each other in hostel dorms on dark Stornoway nights, often enhanced by sudden power cuts...

Told by storyteller Ian Stephen.

All ten tales will also be BSL interpreted at the event on Monday 31 Oct, 6.30pm at the National Library of Scotland, with interpreters Rachel Amey and Louise Holden.

Event is now sold out.