Six of the shortlisters – Nancy, Linda, Wilma, Janice, Pat and Gail
No paparazzi presence, no red carpet, just a bleak, breezy Kilmarnock. Not Hollywood, but for the six of us and our supporters, it was Oscars night minus the posh frocks.
When we entered the Imprint short story competition, no one could have predicted the outcome. From an entry of 76 writers a shortlist of ten was drawn up. Seven of the ten successful candidates turned out to be members of our club. We were told by Zoe Strachan, author and Imprint patron, in her introduction on Friday night, that the organisers were delighted with the quantity and quality of this year’s entries. The competition judges from Glasgow University’s department of creative writing found the standard to be the highest they have seen in the seven years since the awards began. Zoe said she wonders what’s happening in Ayrshire to cause such interest and success in writing. I told her later that a lot of the credit has to go to Ayr Writers’ Club and those who run it.
Shortlisted writers, or their representatives, were invited to the podium to read their stories. A scary experience for anyone, but less intimidating for those of us who read out our work at the club. We heard and enjoyed excellent stories whose subject matter ranged from a poignant Scots language tale of moonlight sledging to Gail’s humorous revenge story. We suffered with Wilma’s miners trapped below ground, learned about the horrors of Nancy’s new door and hid round Moscow street corners with Linda. When seven stories had been heard, three hats remained in the ring and Zoe took the mike again to tell us why these three had been chosen as runners-up and winner.
The judges liked Pat’s new take on a recurring theme, the accuracy of the child’s voice and the naivety with which she saw the situation. They appreciated the subtle suggestion of political differences between the parents and the gradual way the plot of ‘Just a Parade’ was revealed.
Janice was praised for her depiction of a way of life that is dying out, her observation of the economic situation that is causing many to give up farming and the strong message of hope that came through her story, ‘Moving on’.
That left just one ‘name in the frame’ for the title and we were all delighted to see Ann win with her story ‘Konrad Lorenz’s Geese’. All entries had to be chopped or altered to fit in a five minute reading slot and Linda read the excerpt beautifully, but those of us who had read Ann’s full story knew why it had been selected as the winner. Carolyn had described it as ‘achingly memorable’, an accolade in itself, but even that high praise was scant compared to the judges’ comments. They loved Ann’s stream of consciousness style and the way she moved seamlessly between the present and the past. They admired the young protagonist’s attempt to focus on her memories to distract her from the pain inflicted by the tattooist’s needle. For Ann’s story they employed the coveted word ‘literary’ and said that was the reason it sat apart from all other entries, an obvious winner. Wow!
Ann, the Winner