Why do I tell stories as well as write them?
I’ve been a writer for much longer than I’ve been a traditional storyteller, and I became an oral storyteller at first because my own children kept asking me to tell them stories. So I got involved in workshops and mentoring at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, and after listening to a lot of fabulous storytellers, and practising on lots of audiences, I got accepted onto the Storytelling Directory. So now you can invite me to come and tell you stories too.
Even though I am a fiction writer, there are so many wonderful traditional tales out there, which are perfectly shaped for telling to audiences, that I prefer to spend my time as a storyteller passing on the old tales, rather than making up new ones. (If I come up with a new story, I tend to write it down!)
But I still tell oral stories as often as I can, because I love the immediate connection a storyteller has with an audience, just sharing words, creating pictures together in our heads. And I love that these old stories are alive again when we share them and pass them on. I do admit, though, that just like most other storytellers through time, I change each story as I tell it, to make it fit my voice. That’s how stories grow and evolve!
My favourite stories and my favourite places to tell them:
I love stories about dragons and wolves and magic and heroines and heroes. I love old Scottish stories, from Orkney, Skye, Moray, Perthshire, the Borders, to name just a few Scottish places I visit in my favourite stories. But I also love stories from anywhere and everywhere else. I love bloody Viking warriors and vengeful Greek gods and tricksy coyotes. I also love riddle stories, and am very fond of a story about wellies, and another story featuring a pigeon and a pile of horse jobby.
I’ve told stories in some wonderful places. I once told stories in the ruins of Melrose Abbey, at the Borders Book Festival, on Midsummer’s Night, in the dark, by candlelight. That was very atmospheric! And I’ve also told a myth which inspired Storm Singing to an audience deep inside Smoo Cave, near Durness, because some of Storm Singing was set in the cave. That was pretty memorable! But I’ve also shared stories in tents of all sizes, a stand up comedy club, forests, on top of a hillfort, in gardens, classrooms, gymhalls, canteens, cafes, pubs, and in my own living room in the middle of a powercut. You can find out more information about my storytelling sessions here.
I love to find new stories to tell to new audiences. And I believe that anyone can enjoy and benefit from stories.
What I do with stories:
I share traditional tales as often as I can, frequently in the middle of author sessions, to show how they inspire my fiction.
I also retell traditional tales in books, to share them long distance with people I might never meet face to face. I have written quite a few retellings now, including a collection of Scottish legends and folklore, a collection of heroine tales, and a collection of winter stories. I really enjoy finding a balance of different stories around the same theme – it’s like planning a really long extravagent storytelling session!
So if you want to invite me to share stories with you, wherever you are, please get in touch.