Jackie is an Edinburgh-based storyteller; I met her at my first Guid Crack Club, back in September 2014. I had just finished listening, awed, to the many talented tellers who shared a story that night, wishing I had an inch of their ability to draw the audience in.
In the packed upstairs room of the Waverley Pub, she stood up after all the stories had been told and invited any wannabe storyteller to join the Burgh Blatherers, an informal storytelling group, who meet once a month at the Circus on the Royal Mile. It sounded just like the perfect thing for me.
I have asked Jackie to share a bit of her experience as a storyteller in her interview for PublishersInc.
Q. How did the idea for the Burgh Blatherers Storytelling group originate?
It was actually Calum Lykan who started Burgh Blatherers as an open mic evening but over time it evolved into a support group for people who were wanting to develop their storytelling skills. Then we decided it would make sense to gear the meetings to preparing for actual storytelling events.
(The storytelling meetings like Guid Crack Club and Café Voices are usually centred on a theme chosen by that month’s guest storyteller. Past topics have been Tongue in Cheek, Enchantment, Jack Stories, Promises, Pacts and Careless Oaths, The Woods. Storytellers planning to attend usually select their tales accordingly, although any kind of contribution is welcome and keeping to the given theme is not mandatory. Groups like the Burgh Blatherers allow less experienced storytellers to get feedback on the story they plan to share, and to perform in front of a less intimidating audience before facing the crowd the bigger monthly gatherings draw.)
Q. How did you get into storytelling and how did you become part of the storytelling community?
For a while I just went along to storytelling events to listen and then I decided that I would only really enjoy storytelling if I did some myself. I’m not a natural storyteller and so it has taken me a long time to feel I really am one. I gradually got to know other storytellers through going to storytelling events and training sessions and joined the Life Stories Group of storytellers, who do storytelling and reminiscing with groups of older people. Being in the Burgh Blatherers is like meeting up with close friends.
Q. Can you share with us which stories you love most — either that you perform or that you have heard from other storytellers?
I particularly love Scottish and Japanese traditional stories. I travel a lot and always try and bring back some stories from countries I’ve been to. I like comic tales with a twist.
Q. Is there a storyteller in particular whose style you admire or that never fails to move you?
Marie Louise Cochrane mainly tells stories with children but she is a hit with any audience, as she seems to speak directly to each person. David Campbell is magic in his use of words.