THIS Halloween prepare to be chilled to the bone by some terrifying tales of ghosts, ghouls and wee sleekit beasties as writers from across the North West share their Wicked Words in an exciting new virtual Halloween project.
A call out has been issued for haunting haikus, frightening fiction and two-minute terror videos, offering a platform for local writers and film makers to share their very best eerie experiences with Halloween fans via a special online platform.
The Wicked Words Project is the brainchild of local writer and director Anne McMaster, who is hoping to offer creative folk across Derry and Strabane an opportunity to blow away the creative cobwebs and get engaged with audiences again this Halloween.
The months of lockdown have been a major challenge for the cultural sector and many writers, artists and musicians have had to find new ways to engage with audiences and seek out alternative forms of self-expression.
“It’s been a very difficult time,” Anne admits. “Particularly for those in the cultural sector who have had to find new ways to channel their creativity.
“We’ve all been seeking new ways to be creative during Coronavirus and I think this Wicked Words project offers the perfect platform for the people of Derry and Strabane to make Halloween their creative focus.”
Anne is calling on local people of all ages and abilities to join her in the campaign to capture the spirit of Halloween and shine a light on the talent right on our own doorstep.
“The great thing about this project is that people can shape Halloween by creating the experience they want through their stories and by contributing to the overall experience of Halloween this year.
“The end result will then be brought together and displayed by Council across various online platforms and in a unique online book of short fiction titled the Gathering.
“We all know Derry and Strabane is coming down with creative talent and this is the perfect way to express it this Halloween.
“I lectured in Performing Arts at the North West Regional College for 22 years and then moved to write full time, so I know how vitally important it is to have a form of self-expression – especially during these very challenging times.
“Creative people will always find a way of being creative.
“When I had a chance to deliver this project I jumped at the opportunity to get involved and I knew it would appeal to a wide range of talented local writers and film-makers.”
There are three elements to the project, and creative people of all ages can submit their stories in the form of haikus, short stories or two-minute video clips.
“The idea behind the Haunted Haikus is to inspire some silly or scary Halloween stories,” Anne explains.
“Each haiku is comprised of only 17 syllables so you have to really focus on crafting this tiny poem. I think of it as creating a little drop of ice to send chills down the spine!
“There’s also a flash fiction section called The Gathering which is open to anyone who wants to tell their localised Halloween stories.
“We all grew up with stories of places we would never dare to venture and heard stories told to us by our granny – or maybe our grannies might want to tell us their spooky stories too.
“These stories in The Gathering can be up to 500 words long so they offer more scope to create something truly spine-tingling and atmospheric.
“The stories will then all be gathered together by the Council and published on their website.
“I’ve had great fun working with the Council team – they have been trying so hard to identify new ways to engage with the Halloween audience this year.
“I think they have really risen to the challenge with this new virtual programme which is very engaging and interactive at a time when we’re all looking for new activities and challenges.
“Creative people just can’t stop being creative because circumstances change; I know local writers will be seeking out opportunities to channel their creativity and this is a great chance to engage and tell stories.”
As a writer herself, Anne is all too aware of the impact of the ongoing restrictions on the local arts scene, but she believes that people here have the resilience and spirit to get through the coming months.
“I design projects to connect with people. I teach confidence classes online and I’m always seeking out new challenges so I was delighted to be given this chance to develop a series of interactive projects.
!I’ve spent three quarters of my working life in Derry. It’s my second home and I haven’t been there since lockdown began, so this is really an opportunity for me to reconnect with folk here.
“I’ve so missed being able to meet up with my creative contacts and I know it’s a challenge for everyone at this time.
“You’ve heard the question and answer – ‘How do you eat an elephant? One mouthful at a time.’ This seems to underline what we’re facing now; these are dark days and we have to find ways of getting through the coming months one day at a time.
“We need new ways and means of engaging and expressing ourselves now. I have no doubt that if any regions can get through this time then it’s Derry and Strabane.
“We can light up Halloween and create a light in a dark place that will encourage us to keep going. We have to keep moving forwards and finding the positive and inspiring things that can sustain us and help us to get through each day.
“I’m hoping the project will attract submissions from all ages and I’m so looking forward to reading the poems and stories that will shape our new experience of Halloween this year.”
If you would like to share your terrifying tales this Halloween then go to derryhalloween.com/wickedwords to find out more – submissions must be in by October 28th.