Pat Grayson is the man behind Heart Space Publications Australia incorporating Graysonian Press South Africa. Pat's interest is in publishing inspirational, books that change the world. You can browse through the list of publications at you leisure on the Heart Space Publications website. However Pat joins us with a particular interest in oral storytelling
Although born in Australia, Pat has spent the past 30 years living and working in South Africa. Welcome back Pat.
Pat, you have published a book called the Halo and the Noose: the power of storytelling and story listening in business life. Did you commission the authors Dorian Haarhof and Graham Williams or did they come to you with the idea?
Dorian Haarhoff knew of our company and approached me with the manuscript. Instantly, I loved it because it was a way of supporting people through story as opposed to intimidation or guile. Since then Dorian has become a firm friend.
What is the history behind your interest in oral storytelling?
As a boy growing up in Sydney I was in the cubs and later the scouts. On many a camp, under a starry sky, with the glow of fire giving an eerie blend; stories were told. These could have been of the Min Min or war stories as endured by our scoutmaster. And of course many were of Rudyard Kipling's Kim or The Jungle Book. I remember going to bed after an evening stories, somehow expansive or enlivened.
Then later as an avid reader story was important me.
Most of my personal work (when not publishing) is about inspiring and motivating people and I learnt many years ago that short stories written for the purpose is far better than ‘didactic lectures. As a writer I find the combination of writing skill and the ability to conceive story most gratifying. I have written quite a lot of inspirational stories and it is these that I have bought these to small audiences (very small!), with the idea of entertaining and inspiring and hoping that they go home feeling a bit more expansive.
The book is an anthology of pithy tales, can you expand on the themes?
Most stem from myth and moral and as the orientation states in the opening chapter; stories can free us or trap us. They are like the two edged sword that can open us up new possibilities or keep us choked by or strangled in existing paradigms and orientations - whether these be about belief systems, values, religions, thinking styles, business and life journeys, strategies or behaviour patterns.
What makes this book different from other collections of wisdom tales?
For a written story to work well the writing has to be good and in the case of The Halo and the Noose the writing is excellent. That is one differentiator. Another is that there is a mix of myth and contemporary ideas, chiselled out for a modern audience.
It is also a handy book as the stories are categorised in chapters such as; Why Stories? or Story Listening. Towards the end of the book it has a large section called; Art and Craft: Story-telling Guidelines.
So the book teaches how to tell story through stories. It is a great reference book for all who interact with people.
Oral storytellers working with global tales are concerned about cultural property and the potential to cause offence. Are the stories well referenced?
Some of the stories are the authors copyright, many others come from folklore, and others from teachers known and unknown, old and modern. The bibliography has about 130 references and some of the names are as follows: Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, T.S Eliot and Khalil Gibran.
Are you a storyteller yourself?
When I was little my mother said I told such ‘big tales’! But to be truthful, wanting to tell a good story only descended upon me about eight years ago and as it did I was besotted. As I learnt more (I have so much to learn) I realised that the stories that I was telling from my own writing had to be re-scripted because you could not just take a written story, memorise it and tell it. The one requires metaphor and imagery to get across. The other requires all of those but it also needs personal expression to give it to wings.
Who is this book for and how may they use it?
It’s primary focus is on people of influence in any business setting, such as managers or team leaders. But to my way of thinking it is far more than that as it is for anybody who wants to teach or motivate or support individuals or groups. It is a great book for storytellers, motivational and public speakers, personal trainers. It will help writers as there is much wisdom and knowledge to be gleaned from within its pages. Lastly it is really a fascinating read.
The Australian Storytelling Community is vast. There are many interest groups: librarians, teachers, performance storytellers ... where do you see yourself fitting?
As I mentioned above, I want to entertain and inspire and so my storytelling will be the vehicle. So I guess the audience would come from those who are seeking better ways of living life.
The Halo and Noose is an cryptic title, can you explain?
The authors borrowed (with permission) from Dan MacKinnon who advises, ‘a Halo has only to fall a few inches to be a noose ”.
Pat, you have a Halo and Noose website http://www.haloandnoose.com/. Would you like to explain the site to us and how our storytellers can best use it to expand their practice?
This site was put up to be an interactive and ongoing extension of the book. It is where people who are interested in story can stay informed and learn more from the research that is placed on the site.