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As a member of the Helensburgh Writers Workshop, I was able to enter the first 15,000 words of my draft novel, 'Torpedoes Galore', in the Unpublished General Novel category of the Scottish Association of Writers annual competitions 2023. I was delighted to discover at the awards ceremony that it had won a  'Commended'.

The book was inspired by Compton Mackenzie’s ‘Whisky Galore’ and ‘Rockets Galore’ (‘Local Hero’ is in similar genre) and it has been an ambition of mine to write it ever since I served as a young officer on the RN Torpedo Trials Unit, which went up to Kyle of Lochalsh to set up a torpedo testing range. It's only taken me fifty years to write!!

My story satirises the impact of the Navy’s arrival on a remote West Highland community where it is opposed by anti-nuclear protesters, the kirk, and Scottish nationalists. The tale set out originlly to be a pure comedy and still is laced with humour, some of it black, but is now a drama.

The Adjudicator told me that she thought my manuscript was brilliant but could not give it first prize as she did not like the title or my synopsis, which she thought suggested a Carry On film type sex romp, which it is not. Based on her critique, I have now changed the title to 'Unofficial Secrets' and re-written the synopsis. The book is now complete, so I am about to search for an agent or publisher. 

Lindsay Drummond, a fellow member of Helensburgh Writers Workshop, was even more successful. She won First Prize and a trophy in the Young Adult Fiction section. She has a real future as a writer.

Jim McKean, a new member of the Workshop, entered a Short Story where the competition was massive (over 50 entries) but unfortunately did not win a prize this time. For me, the SAW competitions are not about winning; they're about getting the critiques from professional writers, a unique benefit from SAW membership. Few other competitions provide such feedback; so, one never learns. 

L-R Eric Thompson, Lindsay Drummond (with trophy), and Jim McKean

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