The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency author, who was required to imagine who the people featured were and what accounted for their demeanour, described it as “one of the most interesting projects” he has ever taken on.
Now, the newspaper has launched a short story competition for youngsters aged 9-12, together with the author and Glasgow-based children’s book festival Wee Write! The challenge is to pen their own tale of up to 500 words, based on one of the four photographs that inspired McCall Smith, which all date from the early 20th century.
The winning entry will receive signed copies of books by McCall Smith, who will help to judge the competition, and be published in the digital edition of The Sunday Times Scotland.
Jason Allardyce, Scotland editor of The Sunday Times, said: “It has been a joy to share Sandy’s wonderful life-affirming short stories with our readers, and a great pleasure to work with enthusiastic colleagues on the content operations and social media teams to help make it such a success. Now we hope our competition will help identify some fantastic new writing talent.”
Alexander McCall Smith said: “Pictures are all about stories and stories are all about pictures. This is a great opportunity for young writers to let their imagination loose. Don’t hold back. Be as inventive as you like. After all, stories are things that might happen, and we all know that what might happen probably has happened. Pictures are there to prove that.”
Fiona Haddow, reader development and literacies officer for Glasgow Libraries, said: “This competition is a perfect way to encourage young people to follow in the footsteps of Alexander McCall Smith and do the most important thing possible for young writers – to get writing. I’m excited to read the stories and to see what the young Sunday Times readers come up with.”