Here’s the prologue from my new book, a scary YA Paranormal Romance – Groundhog Day… but on a dark street… with a murderer.
She sits beside me on the sofa, close but not quite touching. Her hand rests, clenched, on her knee, inches from my own. I daren’t reach for it because I know she’ll flinch. The lights from the TV illuminate her face and flash like fireworks in the darkness of her eyes, reminding me of another place, different lights. I lean back so I can watch her without her knowing.
We’ve only been officially seeing each other for a few weeks and I’m trying my best to act cool about it. It’s incredibly difficult. She sets off explosive charges inside me with just one look. My heart is constantly stuck in my throat. Every rare smile I win from her is a small victory. Continue reading →
There is a saying: “The walls have ears.” It means that you should be careful of discussing secrets too loudly because you never know who is listening. I used to think it started in World War Two because of all the secret spies in dark, belted raincoats. But no… as early as 400BC in Ancient Greece they had listening posts installed in their palaces to eavesdrop on gossiping visitors.
But, sayings aside, walls really do have ears. And they have eyes too. The first time I learnt this I was five years old and at my grandma’s house. I was in trouble for stealing a biscuit from the cupboard without asking, and my punishment was to stand in the corner of the hallway facing the wall. That sounds strange, but Grandma was a retired Geography teacher and missed her job with all her heart. She would talk to my brother and I as if she was taking a class, and liked to test us on capital cities and river names.
Standing in the corner of my grandma’s hallway in my disgrace, the stolen shortbread still melting on my tongue, I placed my hands on the walls, closed my eyes and saw Grandad.
He stole in quietly from the garden in his gardening slacks, mud on the knees, holding a small bottle of golden liquid. Peering around like a burglar, he lifted the bottle, took a swig, and opened the hall cupboard. With supreme care the lid was screwed back on, the bottle lifted high and placed behind a tin of paint on the top shelf. Then he tiptoed back outside and came in again, this time full of noise. Stomping feet, sighing, swishing hands together. ‘Hey, Joan, put the kettle on, will you?”
When my grandma released me from the corner and I told her what I’d seen, her face drained of colour. She marched over to the hall cupboard, moved the tin of paint to one side and brought forth the half-empty bottle of golden liquid with a shaking hand. She surprised me with the force of the sobs that bent her in half.
When I saw Grandad that day, he had already been dead for two years from liver failure, and she continued to find hidden whisky all over the house for a long time to come, each bottle a painful slap in the face.
For more on ‘Appleheart’, which takes place in a haunted Art College :
Because of the amount of heat coming off Australia, we have record November temperatures in New Zealand this week. Even with all the doors and windows open in the house, it’s too hot to be inside and too hot to be outside. It occurred to me that my messy carport would make an awesome ‘not-indoor but not-outdoor either’ office.
Aah, a nice, warm breeze, a beautiful view and starlings swooping up to their annual nest in the corner. Perfect. Cheers Australia!
So, I’ve been experimenting because there was an expanse of shiny whiteness on my office wall with scribbles on it like ‘Get milk’, ‘Weed the garden (again)’ and ‘***Don’t rescue another cat; you have enough now***’.
But it would be so much better if it said things like:
Chapter 5 – Whenever he smells apples, he is overcome with a murderous rage.
OR, Chapter 12 – Astonishing mid-plot twist: The monkey was never meant to be there, but only the nun knew.
Everyone has that book, or series of books, that defines their childhood and influences their future lives in some way. This is mine. What’s yours, and why?
When I first discovered ‘Flambards’ by K.M Peyton, I devoured the whole series, and returned to them again and again. They had everything; a strong heroine who was so real to me she was like a best friend, a hero who had his weaknesses but it still gives me pangs when I think of his sad fate, and a First World War setting – not on the front line, but on the home front – which pits the rise of automobiles and airplanes against the decline of horses and cavalry, and delves into women’s rights and the crumbling of social divisions. Cleverly, the house – ‘Flambards’ – is a mirror that reflects this era of change in Britain. Its fate is directly affected by all that is going on around it, and yet it is also a symbol for everything the heroine is experiencing. She is tied to it. It becomes her heart.
It’s happened again! Our local second-hand bookshop owner has gone away and left me in charge for the day. Now I just have to try not to spend all my wages on the books! That bookshop owner knows what he’s doing hiring me 😀
It looks like someone may have been telling porkie-pies!
Well, remember yesterday, when I wrote about the exciting news of a Bristol academic cracking the code to the Oddest Book in the World – the Voynich Manuscript – and it only taking him a couple of weeks where many others have failed… including Alan Turing…
Now it turns out that Bristol University have backed away from the claims at a hundred miles an hour after hearing the doubts of another scholar who tried the same method years ago. It didn’t work.
So, sorry for the false alarm, but we’re not going to be reading a translated version of this mysterious book any time soon. I just hope that, when someone actually cracks it for real, it turns out to be worth all the time and effort and not just an extended shopping list.
BREAKING NEWS: Further to my article a few weeks ago about the Voynich Manuscript, otherwise known as The Oddest Book in the World, this has happened …
Although the purpose and meaning of the manuscript had eluded scholars for over a century, it took Dr. Gerard Cheshire two weeks, using a combination of lateral thinking and ingenuity, to identify the language and writing system of the famously inscrutable document.
University of Bristol
Says Dr. Cheshire:
“I experienced a series of ‘eureka’ moments whilst deciphering the code, followed by a sense of disbelief and excitement when I realised the magnitude of the achievement, both in terms of its linguistic importance and the revelations about the origin and content of the manuscript.
“What it reveals is even more amazing than the myths and fantasies it has generated. For example, the manuscript was compiled by Dominican nuns as a source of reference for Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon, who happens to have been great aunt to Catherine of Aragon.
To find out more about how he did it, and what he discovered, read the University of Bristol Article:
Writers crave good reviews even more than they crave a big slab of chocolate cake or a really fantastic pen. They make everything worthwhile, even if you were only really writing for yourself. It’s so good to receive validation that you’re not wasting your time. Although no writing time is truly wasted if you love it, or even if you took the wrong path in your writing and stumbled too far along it. (See Writing and Cucumbers for more on that kind of thing!)
This is the first written review I ever received for my first book (well-second book really, but we’ll forget the first one), published in the local paper by lovely journalist Hilarie Stelfox. All thanks to my mum, who shouted about my book from the rooftops and remains my biggest champion. Thanks Mum! xxx