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A cauldron full of … Summer Readaround – 18th June, 2014

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Maroon eight creative, fertile minds in a remote Ayrshire cottage.

Throw in an amputated foot, the initial stirrings of a teenage serial killer, and a Glaswegian secretary obsessed with matricide.

Mix the above with allusions to the infamous Bible John, the sadness following a miscarried pregnancy and the goings-on at a Murder Mystery weekend on a faraway shore.

And what do you get?

Surprisingly enough, a highly entertaining and productive evening.

Spice it all up with recollections of running wild over Skara Brae in the Orkneys, some confessional trainspotting, and frustrating courtroom exchanges, and it proves that we’re quite a diverse bunch. Never let it be said that we’re boring or predictable.

And we couldn’t avoid the football with the appearance of Bill Shankly, one of Ayrshire’s historic sporting icons.

Despite the apparent macabre links that connected many of the pieces that were read out, the style and content delivered in these Summer Readarounds continues to vary.  And usefully, so do the comments and observations.

Some people were able to contribute new twists or angles to a story that may have needed that bit more punch at the end: others focussed on descriptive style or noticed where a narrative may have lost its momentum. An argument almost raged between those who skip rich descriptive language to maintain the page-turning momentum of the plot, and those who can luxuriate in the way a landscape can become a character in itself. Each to their own, as they say.

In addition to benefitting from the constructive comments upon which the next draft can be based, it was also useful to share ideas and experience about potential destinations for publication.  As a consequence, we have now all been presented with a challenge: work on something we’ve presented and send it somewhere … by next Thursday. No pressure there then. But maybe that’s what we need.

Let’s see if we can have a handful more members joining those with their names already in print – as well as working on some material for the next Readaround.

Nigel Ward

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