We are delighted to welcome Mark Wightman as our Featured Writer and Committee Member. Mark recently joined the committee as our Treasurer on the resignation of Alice Gemmell, who has gone to live in Australia. Mark is currently working on a novel, as he explains below, and you can read an abridged version of the intriguing opening paragraphs (which will make you want to read on) below his biography and thoughts on being a committee member. Forget gloomy January in Scotland and set sail for Singapore!
Mark was born in Edinburgh and after a circuitous route that took in England, Hong Kong, Singapore, England (again), the Netherlands, and New Zealand is back where it all started. Following what seemed like a lifetime working in media technology, Mark took time out to complete an MSc in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh, and is now studying for an MA in Crime Writing at the University of East Anglia.
He has been published in the UoE anthology From Arthur’s Seat, the Scottish Book Trust’s Secrets and Confessions, and in Tales from Four Cities: Stories from Four UNESCO Cities of Literature, as well as in online literary magazines. He is currently working on a historical crime novel set in colonial-era Singapore.
Mark lives with his wife in Linlithgow, and when he isn’t writing he can be found trying and failing to answer the questions on University Challenge, trying and failing to discipline a ridiculously spoiled Labrador, and making rather good chocolates.
Mark writes of his role on the FWS Committee:
I joined the committee at the end of last year, as treasurer for the Federation. My role is to ensure that any funds coming in, such as donations, entry fees for competitions, sales of publications, or grants and other external funding are banked and tracked. I maintain a statement of account and advise the committee regularly on the Federation’s financial position. This allows the committee to plan events for the year and make decisions on where the funds can be put to best use.
Like all the committee I have a wider role to serve the interests of the members and to help ensure that we carry out the stated aims of the Federation, which are to make the written and spoken word available to the public of Scotland, with respect for diversity and recognition of additional support needs. Writing can seem like a lonely business at times and anything we can do to bring writers together by providing a friendly, supportive, and encouraging community is a good thing. On a personal level, I am particularly keen on helping writers at the start of their writing careers, be they young writers starting out, or those, like myself, who discovered the joys of creative writing later in life.
Abridged Extract from Mark’s Novel in Progress Sleeping in the Tiger’s Lair
The SS Batavian Princess swayed in the ebbing tide and the hawsers, thick as a man’s arm, that held her fast to the Tanjong Pagar dock, creaked in protest. Haji Abu Bakar smiled to himself. He loved these boats; he sensed their spirits. This one was objecting to the indignity of being forcibly restrained. ‘Hurry up,’ she seemed to be saying, ‘this place is not for me. I should be out there, at sea, not tied to this Godforsaken piece of land.
He checked off the identifying marks that were scorched into the wooden tea chests that had been carried up from the hold. Either the shipping companies were getting more careless, or his eyes were starting to fail him, just as his wife had said, that very morning, when she had caught him holding his newspaper at arm’s length, squinting at the news, and chided him for not going to see Mr. Foong, the optician on Bencoolen Street, whom her sister had advised dispensed most reasonably priced spectacles.
He waved to the band of coolies waiting on the dock below to signal that unloading could commence. When all the cargo had been sent on its way, he stretched. The wailing call of the adhan tumbled over the roofs of the godowns that lined the river: ‘There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.’ Earlier that day he had watched two of the younger officers on the ship comparing fancy new wristwatches, complimenting each other on following the latest fashion. Haji Abu Bakar smiled to himself at this folly; he had no need of a timepiece; the position of the sun and the call of the muezzin were all he needed to know that it was time to go home to his wife and her sister and her spectacles.
© Mark Wightman 2017