Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Sunday, 23 August 2009 12:26 UK

The Moth flies in to tell stories

By Steven Brocklehurst
BBC Scotland news

George Dawes green
George Dawes Green's idea has developed into salons around the world

A cult storytelling salon, which has become a literary phenomenon around the world, is to have its European premiere at the Edinburgh Book Festival.

The Moth was founded in New York in 1997 by novelist George Dawes Green.

Speakers are given 10 minutes to tell a story without the aid of notes or memorising their material.

The sell-out Edinburgh event included raconteur and playwright Edgar Oliver and Jessie Klein on her erotic adventures in Disney World.

Holes in the screen

Mr Green said the idea for The Moth began in his home state of Georgia in the USA.

He drank Bourbon with friends and told stories until the moths began to fly through the holes in the screen on the porch door.

Later, in New York, Mr Green wanted to set up a similar arrangement.

"There are lots of raconteurs in New York," he said.

"But nobody has any time.

"So I invited them to my apartment and we started to tell stories and it became The Moth."

Now there are hundreds of Moths all over the world.

Events have recently been held in Australia and Tajikistan.

The Moth's podcasts are the second biggest in the world, with hundreds of thousands of downloads each week.

People have been telling what I call kitchen stories but they have never been made public until The Moth began
George Dawes Green

Mr Green said the best stories were personal and true - although a bit of embellishment was never a problem.

He said: "The great raconteurs have a real sense of rhythm and understanding of how to use their voice.

"There also has to be a real vulnerability, the best stories are usually about failure."

He said celebrities sometimes tried to impress with tales of success - but usually fell flat.

"And there should be no fancy language, speak in the vernacular," he added.

Another mistake is to think a story had to have a moral, Mr Green said.

"When we first began, people were pouring out their soul like Alcoholics Anonymous," he said.

"People want to hear the essence of a story."

Mr Green, who is also promoting his new novel Ravens, said the "public raconteur" was a new phenomenon.

He said: "When Homer told stories, they were memorised poems. Folk tales were memorised. People have been telling what I call kitchen stories but they have never been made public until The Moth began.

"It is a new thing but it has started to sweep the world."

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