When do you start being a storyteller? My first memory of storytelling is by the side of a lane between Wilkieston and Kirknewton,
with a bunch of suspicious Kirknewton boys and me. Things didn’t look
good. Particularly because I was mixed race - my mother was English. I
couldn’t really understand it but this was somehow betrayed by my accent
and they had sniffed me out. I was new to the area and should never
have politely said hullo to them.
It was getting ugly.
Although I was a girl, and this should have precluded me from a
drubbing, I could sense that the fact that I was even just partly
English was somehow altering the code. Anything was possible.
granddad told me a story about my family. From the Highlands.’ It was
the most Scottish thing I could think of. They moved back a little.
They had heard of the Highlands, they were definitely Scottish. ‘A ghost
story. About a .’
that was it. I liked hearing the words out loud and other people
settled down to listen to me, as I had to my grandfather. The school
bus from Wilkieston to West Calder took over half an hour, plenty of
time for a running romantic adventure involving Lesley Ogg, her Dad’s
pig farm and the boy of her dreams. At East Calder, Isobel Jamieson got
on and, because her family lived on an oil compound in the Gulf of
Aden, her story had a more international flavour and involved pool-side
meetings and something called gin. Soon there were other takers and
other story threads dancing along on the on the green SMT double decker
bus every morning between 7.30 and 8.45am. This apprenticeship stood me
in good stead. At sixteen I won "The Scotsman School Magazine" short
story prize. The editor of the page of prizewinners was James Aitchison.
And last year James Aitchison kindly gave me great encouragement by
saying good things about my first novel, Impostor. So things have come full circle.
between I have won an Ottakar short story prize and scripted audio
stories about Derbyshire, which are now being turned into written
collections. My current project is MY LOVE AND I WILL BE… IN PERFECT HARMONY. This is a sequel to Impostor and has the same setting – Hulland House, in Ashbourne.