What a whirlwind! Friday night saw the launch of our Dundonald Tales illustrated short story collection at a candlelit Dundonald Castle. Now available in ebook and print editions (plug, plug), Dundonald Tales is guaranteed to tickle your historical fiction needs.
But, what an event it was. With over 50 people climbing the castle hill in suitably gothic weather, our first print run more or less sold out on the night. For a working-class village lass with health issues, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect launch. This is how the night went down…
Well, what’s the point of having a castle all to yourself when you can turn it into a showcase for local writing talent? We had writers from Ayr Writers’ Club, LiterEight, and Dundonald’s very own Castle Creatives all performing and selling their work.
Our brilliant MC, Carolyn O’Hara, is well-known on the Ayrshire spoken word circuit. After a warm welcome from Dr Kirsteen Croll, Castle and Visitor Centre Manager, Carolyn kicked the evening off with her poems, ‘Stepping Through Life‘ and ‘Roadworks’; and her hilarious monologue, ‘Nothing like a bit of ME time.’
Then it was time for Greta Yorke to read her brilliant ‘Dark Twists‘ story, ‘Done and Dusted.’ I’ll never look at DIY the same, Greta!
Helena Sheridan entertained us with her poem’s, ‘My Mr Right’ and ‘Let’s Talk Turkey‘. I’m not going to explain anything further about this picture. You’ll just have to buy the LiterEight tea towels to find out more!
Linda Brown completed the first half of the evening with her Imprint shortlisted story, ‘From Winneyhill‘, a moving story based on her granny Jean’s wartime experiences.
Then it was time for our intermission and mini book fair. So, after visiting the facilities at the bottom of the hill, we indulged in drinks and canapes very kindly provided by the Visitor Centre. There was also time to blether with the writers selling their publications and I had my very first book signing! I even had a queue. Not many debut writers can say that. It was an absolute honour and a pleasure.
Maggie Bolton, the illustrator of ‘The Missus’, then entertained us with her winning poem, ‘Seal Rocks’, short story, ‘A Cat Called Way’, and an excerpt from her short story, ‘The Untimely End of Elvira Carrington’.
The final LiterEight performer of the night was Fiona McFadzean. Fiona gave us the chills with her creepy vampire story, ‘Coming of Age‘ and she finished with the ‘Awww’- inducing, ‘Nae Need Fir Fine Feathers’.
And after a warm and generous introduction from MC, Carolyn O’Hara, it was time for me to read from Dundonald Tales, which I did from a throne in a medieval castle!
After I heard that Kirsteen’s daughter had loved The Baba Witch so much that she’d read it four times, I wanted to read a little bit of it just for her! I finished off the night with a little from my ghost story, Ait The Smuggler’s Grave. You’ll need to buy (plug, plug) a copy of Dundonald Tales to find out what happens.
All that was left for me to do was give my closing thanks…
I’d like to finish off the evening by thanking you all for coming to the launch of Dundonald Tales tonight. We’re absolutely delighted that you’ve ventured up the castle hill to see us all and I hope you’ve had an enjoyable evening?
You know, a book is only a solitary pursuit during the drafting stages. After that, it cannot come to publication without the wider support of friends, family, and the community. And we have been absolutely blessed on all of these fronts. So, thank you to our Mithers and Faithers, my wee sister, and our close friends for all their unwavering support and enthusiasm.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Kirsteen Croll and – although he’s not here tonight, if you’re from Dundonald, you’ll know him well – Mr Jim McQuiston. Without both of your help on the research front, Dundonald Tales could not have been written.
Without our army of beta readers who checked through the MSS multiple times, Dundonald Tales would never have got to the publishing stage. So, a big thank you to all of you as well.
And without the groundswell of support from all the staff and volunteers at Dundonald Castle & Visitor Centre, we wouldn’t be here tonight. Thank you all so much for being our cheerleaders and for organising such a fantastic launch event for us – and for stocking our paperback (a wee plug there). We sincerely couldn’t have done it without you and we couldn’t be happier, or prouder, to have launched our wee book baby in the castle that we got married in. So, a million thank yous for all the hard work and all the energy you put into making this event happen.
Please can you all give a huge round of applause to our hosts tonight, Kirsteen, Fiona, Lauren, Anne, Gillian, Marysia, Cody, and everyone involved with Dundonald Castle.
Please also put your hands together for all our fabulous book sellers who will be happy to sign books and have a blether with you shortly: M.S. Murray, Em Taylor, Lucy Lang, Martin Bone, LiterEight, Maggie Bolton, and Greta Yorke.
And a big thank you to Dave as well for offering a free tour of the castle after we’ve finished. Ae Fond Kiss is set in the castle dungeon, so why not pop along and visit the spiders! 😉
And lastly, please welcome back your wonderful – and incredibly talented – speakers and give a huge Dundonald cheer and wild applause for our MC and first speaker of the night, Carolyn O’Hara, and Greta Yorke, Helena Sheridan, Linda Brown, Tracy Harvey, Maggie Bolton, Fiona McFadzean, and Me and Michael Kelly.
Thank you all for coming and goodnight!
And, with that, it was all over. What a night! I can truly say this was the book launch of my dreams! There is no better place to hold an event. Thank you to everyone who got us there! x
Carolyn O’Hara is an English tutor and freelance writer, from Prestwick. She has had a number of articles and short stories published and also enjoys writing poetry and monologues which she loves performing at spoken word events. With a passion for social history, she is writing a book about life in and around Ayr in 1898.
Greta Yorke is a retired teacher living in Prestwick. She has won awards for her children’s stories and poetry. As a member of LiterEight she has been published in 4 collections of short stories and poetry. Greta has published 4 children’s picture books.
Helena Sheridan’s fiction and poetry has been widely published in magazines and anthologies in the UK and beyond. She is a member of a member of LiterEight and three times winner and twice runner-up in the Scottish Association of Writers Drama Awards. Her one act plays have been performed in various Scottish Theatres in connection with the Scottish Community Drama Association.
Linda Brown lives in Newmilns and loves writing short stories and historical articles. Inspired by her genealogical research, local history and family tales she heard as a wean on her mother’s knee, Linda’s prose has been shortlisted for the Imprint Writing Award. She’s also enjoyed success with the Scottish Association of Writers competitions, winning both the General and Humorous Article trophies.
Tracy Harvey is a poet from Ayr. She writes in Scots and English on subjects ranging from loneliness to road rage. Her monologue ‘The Missus’ – from the point of view of Robert Burns wife, Jean Armour – has been published in Lallans Scots language magazine and is now published as a standalone book, with illustrations by Maggie Bolton. Tracy’s poem ‘Lowsin Time’ recently won the Imprint poetry award.
Maggie Bolton was a primary school teacher and writes for both children and adults. She is a member of the writing consortium LiterEight and also works with Greta Yorke in producing picture books. A long-standing exhibiting artist, Maggie launched into illustration in 2015 and has been at it ever since, illustrating both for herself and other authors.
Fiona McFadzean has been a dramatist, poet and storyteller for as long as she can remember, writing in both Scots and English. She has been published in anthologies and magazines as well as within education. Having fallen in love with The Bard in primary school, Fiona is often seen ‘gien it laldy’ at Burns events. She is a member of LiterEight and is currently writing a Romantic Novel, the first of a trilogy.
Suzy A. Kelly is prose winner of the 2017 Imprint Writing Awards and is featured in the British Fantasy Society’s ‘Emerging Horizons’ anthology in 2018. Whilst recovering from ME/CFS, she achieved undergraduate awards in Scottish Cultural Studies and Humanities and is in the final year of her MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. She now lives back in Dundonald where she was born.