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Ayr Writers’ Club S.A.W. Success Night – 27th March 2024

The Scottish Association of Writers’ Success Night is an opportunity to celebrate members’ achievements at the national level.

It’s been a very good year. Members received twenty placings, in 13 of the competitions, and tonight we heard readings from winning entries.

Fiona Atchison began with a fine reading of her 1st placed Dramatic Monologue, The Senior Librarian, which had the audience chortling away at her clever depiction of a ‘senior’, Welsh female librarian tasked with showing a newbie the ropes, her friendly demeanour belying her determination to dispatch the junior and retain her job.

In the book review competition, Marion Husband was commended for her account of Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson. Set in 1920s London, in the seedy underworld of dubious nightclubs, it is a novel which satisfies the appetite of crime lovers, along with satirical and romantic elements.

Highly commended in the General Novel category was Carrie Watts’ children’s novel, The Enchanted Moon, Spookle Wood. In this first hand, present tense narrative in Chapter 11, Emily tells of her encounter with strange creatures in a spooky hollow. These beings, half hidden in the trees, have been transformed by a sorceress, an unsettling and intriguing encounter.

Back to the laughs – and plenty of them in Linda Brown’s Commended Humorous Story, Finding the Right Muffin. Hamish’s utterance of the words, “My gran’s a nutter,” causes quite a scene in the classroom, but his gran is Jemima Nutter, and his unknown grandfather, might be an enigmatic rock legend. How to discover the truth? Tickets to see the Mystic Muffins at a rock festival, of course!

Honorary AWC member, Ann Burnett was placed 3rd in the Under 7s story competition. As Ann now lives in Edinburgh, her story Wee Shy Mouse Makes Friends was read beautifully by Carrie W. The heartwarming tale follows the quest of a mouse to make friends with other shy creatures, thus encouraging young readers to realise that shyness is normal.

Back to the Book Review Competition: Kirsty Hammond was placed both 1st and 2nd with her entries. She shared her 1st placed piece, a review of The Balloon Thief by Aneesa Marufu, a YA fantasy debut novel, with complex plot structures but applauded for its inclusion of an important transgender character, and the thought-provoking reversal of racism rules.

During breaktime, our own Children’s Fiction Competition results were revealed, we refreshed ourselves for part two, and costumes were donned for the presentation of the 3-5 min Sketch, The Visitor, for which Helena Sheridan was placed 2nd. Quite what other hotel visitors must have thought of spotting an alien from Zagon, and a cowboy loitering outside our room from which emanated gales of laughter, I would love to know! Kudos to Linda Brown and Maggie Bolton for making Helena’s piece leap off the page.

Kirsty Hammond’s third reading was Chapter 1 of her Teens/YA Novel which was awarded 1st place. The opening of Dead Space is a captivating one: sisters are all set – amongst a crowd of others – to register for a space mission. Clearly, they already have a degree of fame, as their father has been on, and not survived, a previous mission. Emotions run high between the siblings, and tension is heightened when the reader learns that the C.E.O. Ariel is suspected of having had a hand in the father’s death.

In the General Article competition, past President Nigel Ward was placed 2nd, with A Corvid Collection. This mesmerising account of the removal of ash trees and the subsequent invasion of a rook collective, imbues the species with human character traits – gang-like teenage louts! The disturbance they cause is not only auditory but also leaves a slimy, smelly mess, even if their nest building techniques are to be admired. The writer concludes that the only way to describe their arrival is as ‘a domination of rooks’.

I know it’s a cliché to say ‘you could have heard a pin drop’ but that was indeed true as the enthralled audience listened to the first chapter of Linda Brown’s 1st placed Historical Novel entry, Closing Pandora’s Box. Beginning in Ayrshire in 1890, a male passenger boards a train bound for London, but only minutes into the journey, he is disturbed by a pungent, stomach-churning odour. Despite the intention of seeking help at the Kilmarnock stop, his curiosity gets the better of him when he spots a lady’s pink hat box wedged beneath a seat and decides to investigate it. I am not going to give away the nature of the contents, too good – and horrific – is the discovery. Collective breaths were held!

Another attention-grabbing piece was an abridged version of Chris Palmer’s Commended General Short Story, The Adventures of Bacon. This absorbing tale told of a day in the life of 5-year-old ‘Bacon’ as he found himself the centre of attention and being spoiled in an unusual way. The idyllic day was then ruined by a telephone call, prompting his parents to inform him that he was to be sent away to boarding school, much to his horror. Like Linda’s opening chapter, I shall not reveal the astonishing – and moving – discovery revealed at this point. Suffice to say, we didn’t see it coming!

And finally, in Susan McVey’s absence, Linda B read Chapter 1 of her 1st placed, Self-Published Book Island of Ruin. This chapter finds two females fishing on a sandy beach when one apparently discovers the body of an elderly woman, but where has she come from, is she contaminated, should they report her? On her surprise revival, she talks in an ‘old language’, asks about their branded wrists, and is found to be wearing a ‘cross’. Dilemma time: what should the young women do? Another captivating opening.

What a wonderful evening, displaying the wealth of talent at AYR WRITERS’ CLUB. So proud to be a member!

Carolyn O’Hara



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