Thursday, 10 March 2011

Wigan Pier Author Wins Chance to Compose Jura Short Story in 1984 Minutes

Jura malt whisky has announced the winner of its prestigious writing competition, which will allow the author to follow in the footsteps of George Orwell, who penned his masterpiece 1984 on the island of Jura.

The famous malt whisky brand revived the challenge to find a new literary talent at the end of last year, offering the winner the chance to stay at the exclusive Jura Lodge and compose a short story based on the island.

The winner, Ian McLoughlin, already has ties to the eminent twentieth century author, living less than a mile from Wigan Pier, made famous by Orwell in his account of working-class life in the heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire in the 1930s, The Road to Wigan Pier.

McLoughlin, who works as a bereavement counsellor in his hometown of Wigan, will only have 1984 minutes to compose his story, in keeping with the novel which was written on the island of Jura more than 60 years ago.

Writers from throughout the UK were asked to submit the first 300 words of their proposed short story, with only two criteria - that the short story must take place on the island itself and that it link to one of the many myths and legends about Jura.

“I am a great Orwell fan and it will be a real honour to follow in his footsteps and visit the island. I have never visited Jura before, but I know that it is steeped in literary heritage and I’m in no doubt that my creative juices will be flowing while I’m there.”

McLoughlin’s winning entry ‘The Maelstrom’ is based on the island’s mysterious history and mysticism and focuses on the central character Mr Blair, who suddenly wakes up to find himself on the island of Jura. “It’s a ghost story with a difference; Orwell’s original title for “1984” was ‘The Last Man in Europe’ and I have tried to evoke that feeling for the reader, such as the main character’s growing uneasiness, isolation and inner confusion surrounding his chilling predicament.”

Jura distillery manager Willie Cochrane said: “The competition was extremely strong and the challenge clearly struck a chord with the many talented authors who entered. It was a tough decision, but the winning entry was not only successful in linking the plots to the many myths and legends of the island, but left the judges wanting to read on.

“There’s no shortage of material on Jura and we hope that once our lucky winner has had the chance to soak up the atmosphere of this great island the continuation of The Maelstrom will be just as riveting as the first 300 words.”

The finished product will be published on Jura’s website as part of a compendium of short stories, essays and poetry as a follow-up to the Spirit of Jura.

The short story competition follows in the footsteps of the Jura distillery’s partnership with the Scottish Book Trust. In 2006, the two partners established the Jura Malt Whisky Writers’ Retreat programme, offering writers space, peace and time in a truly inspirational setting, amid the luxury of the Distillery Lodge.

Several leading authors, essayists and poets participated in the programme, including Will Self, Liz Lochhead, Kathleen Jamie, Romesh Gunesekara, John Burnside, Philip Gourevitch and Swetha Prakash. The resulting works were published in a book, the Spirit of Jura.

For thousands of years, good fortune and mystery has enriched the tiny island of Jura, from the creation of its dominating scenery to the rumours of witches, prophecies and the graves of the Knights Templar. The rich bank of stories can be found at

For all media enquiries, please contact: Harry Hussain or Stephanie Robertson at Weber Shandwick on 0131 556 6649 or /

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