An Evening with Cathy MacPhail

It was well worth an outing on a blustery, inclement night, to listen to Cathy MacPhail. Just the thing to take minds off more mundane matters of life on the eve of Storm Abigail.
Cathy is no stranger to Ayr Writers’ Club and her oratory was as refreshing to those who had heard her before, as to those hearing her for the first time.
Though Storm Abigail turned out to be a bit of a non-event for this part of the world, Cathy certainly provided a memorable occasion for us, sharing her aspirations, knowledge and inspirational life. A prolific writer, mainly for children, she has had a very successful year with publications of children’s stories such as Devil You Know, and Annie’s Choice. Cathy has also enjoyed deep involvement in the filming of Another Me, directed by Isabel Coixet, which is based on Cathy’s novel of the same name.
This was all recounted with gusto, along with many useful and innovative tips and ideas of how to start a plot, write the all-important blurb and on to the synopsis. Cathy’s advice included gems such as these. Always work on a series of cliff hangers preferably chapter by chapter. Give your readers the ending they want but wrap it up with just that extra surprise. Keep an analytical mind when you are reading other authors. These suggestions must be why Cathy’s books are so full of action and suspense in an Enid Blyton way, albeit with appropriate political correctness.
We were told that this intrepid and bright writer left school at fifteen and went to work at a mill in her home town of Greenock. Cathy did not go to university or ever attend a creative writers’ course. She felt she her writing career did not take off till well into adult life. This was attributed to a lack of confidence, until she joined her local writers’ club.
Cathy has a very analytical and alert mind. You are left to wonder what might have happened had she gone to university, what dizzy heights might have been climbed in other fields of research. One thing is sure, the world of children stories and films would be a lot poorer and Ayr Writers’ Club would not have had such an entertaining night. The club and guests were left with an abundance of thoughts and ideas to take home. We hope Cathy enjoyed being with us as much as we enjoyed listening to her.
Simon Kekewich

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