featured author - summer 2021
"What I love about storytelling is its simplicity. Stories meet us half way and we, the audience, have to be complicit for them to be successful. The stories I like to tell are fun, inviting and light hearted – even the serious ones! I believe that storytelling has a unique ability to connect people, not only to each other but to the past, the future and to the world around us." - Ian Douglas.
So I’ve been a storyteller for about 24 years. I work all over the British isles at festivals and events and in schools, colleges and universities. Originally, I was a street theatre performer, fire breather and stilt walker.
I was inspired to start storytelling after attending the ‘bit craic’ storytelling nights in Newcastle upon Tyne with my friend and illustrator of my book, Gary Cordingley.
During my career I have founded two story-telling based theatre companies, been storyteller in residence for organisations across the North including Northern Stage and Live Theatre in Newcastle and most recently, Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. I have also been apprentice to the first laureate for storytelling Taffy Thomas MBE.
I currently live aboard Narrowboat Hawker (that features in the book) with my Wife Jo who is a puppeteer. We often have people on board for stories and shadow shows.
As a storyteller you are always looking for stories that resonate and after 8 years on the cut, the desire to to create a collection of tales inspired by our way of life took root and so here they are.
The book is a starting point for a next phase in my career; I’m going to continue the search for more tales from the canal side but also begin work, with Jo, to turn them into a show. We aim to tour around the network and encourage our audiences to make a deeper connection to life on the waterways.
about the book
'Folk Tales from the Canal side' is one of those beautiful little books that grab you from the moment you see it. It is a nice size, easy to hold and easy to flick through. The front cover is enticing. The colours are those of a traditional canal boat, and the inset painting shows many things associated with boating, or with tales of boating: but a man with a donkey? and a whale?
In the book, Ian talks directly to us, his readers. He then meets someone who gives him a tale, tells the tale, and then carries on chatting about his own similar experience. So we flow in and out of each story - meeting ghosts, devils, murderers, faithless wives and miserable jobsworths. At the same time, Ian manages to educate us by effortlessly weaving in plenty of history about the canals.
Ian's first book was altogether a very enjoyable read, and one which caused me to frequently laugh out loud. I must say I read the entire book in one sitting. I highly recommend it!
(Linda Hollington, editor)