A Chance for the Words of Three Young Writers to Shine in the Sky

This New Year’s Day marks the beginning of the Year of Young People 2018 and today, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay launches a new competition aimed at aspiring young writers aged 8 to 18, based in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and Falkirk. Their remit is to create their own short story inspired by Edinburgh, the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature.

Three stories will be selected to appear alongside a new work by celebrated Scottish writer, Val McDermid in Message from the Skies that will be launched on New Year’s Day 2018 and run until Burns Night on 25 January.

Inspired by a line from Robert Burns’ poem Sketch New Year’s Day. To Mrs Dunlop (1790) , Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and the Edinburgh International Book Festival have commissioned McDermid to write a short story entitled New Year’s Resurrection, that will be told in a series of chapters through projections onto buildings and landmarks around Edinburgh.

Bringing the story to life will involve collaboration between McDermid, Philip Howard, director and dramaturg of emergent theatre company Pearlfisher; Edinburgh based architectural projection mapping specialists Double Take Projections and three of Scotland’s finest composers and sound designers, Michael John McCarthy, Pippa Murphy and RJ McConnell.

From 2 January, for one hour, ahead of the main presentation of New Year’s Resurrection, a new short story by a local young writer will be projected onto a number of the buildings. Each young writer’s work will be featured for one week of between 2 and 25 January on show to thousands of visitors and residents.

Message from the Skies, commissioned and presented by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, produced by Underbelly and Pearlfisher, in partnership with Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust and developed with support from Creative Scotland through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, will illuminate dark January evenings as buildings and landmarks become a chapter in the tale, allowing the experience to be enjoyed as a whole story in one evening or over a period of time, like any good book.

The project creates a magical new walking tour to lead residents and visitors through Edinburgh’s iconic streets, which have inspired some of the world’s finest authors over the centuries - from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Robert Louis Stevenson; Muriel Spark and J K Rowling. It will be accompanied by an app filled with additional content about the story and buildings, and will translate Val’s story into seven languages – French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Polish and Spanish, making the project equally accessible to visitors to Edinburgh. The app will also read the text in English to partially sighted audiences.

In an exclusive short film to encourage and inspire young people to enter the competition, Val McDermid says, “A good story is like a three-legged stool. It depends on character, it depends on setting and it depends on the plot. You’ve got these three elements, keep them in balance and it won’t fall over.” She added, “If you’re stuck for what to write get off your bum, get out the door and get writing.”

The competition, that will be adjudicated by Ali Bowden, Director, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust and Janet Smyth, Children & Education Programme Director, Edinburgh International Book Festival, is open now. Pupils of primary and secondary schools, school leavers under 18 and pupils of special schools in the EH, FK or KY postcodes are eligible and it will be divided into 3 age groups: Primary; S1 to S3 and S4-S6 or school leavers under 18.

Stories whose word limit is 200 - 1000 words can be submitted via www.edinburghshogmanay.com/shortstory and by post to: Message from the Skies Short Story Competition, Underbelly, 26, Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 2JR. Submission deadline 15th November 2017.

Message from the Skies runs from 1 – 25 January 2018. More on Edinburgh’s Hogmanay.