In which the derelict farmhouse that sparked my historical fantasy, ‘Foxfires’, on a wintery walk many years ago suddenly appears online for sale, and I spend the day wishing it was mine, all mine! Continue reading When Your Muse is For Sale
The jars of pickle were kept at the back of the cellar. Of course. They wouldn’t be conveniently positioned at the bottom of the stairs. That would be far too easy. I’d already heard the jokes about the ghost. The one nobody ever saw, but everyone had heard… Continue reading The Saturday Girl and The Heavy-Breather
The moon finally peeked from behind the clouds as the dogs trotted on across the dark, windswept moorland, scattering powdery snow with their tails. The pilot (perhaps called ‘Jack’, but he wasn’t entirely sure) limped along, looking up every so often and cursing the white disc above him. His memory had deserted him, he was frozen to the core, rigid with pain, and beholden to the silent, dour giant of a man beside him. The crash would never have happened on a clear night. He would have made it to wherever the hell he was meant to be… Continue reading Out of the Frying Pan… The Reluctant Rescue of Jack Fairchild
We do not know why the king went into the cave. Was he hiding? Seeking solitude? Was he meeting a lover? Or an envoy of his neighbour to negotiate a transfer of power? Was he fed up of being a king? I once asked my nursemaid and she told me it was better not to know. I disagreed with her. It’s always better to know… Continue reading The Crown (La Corona)
As it’s Groundhog Day, here’s the story behind ’11:42′ – but not because of the cute little woodchuck that predicts the arrival of Spring every Feb 2nd in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania… (Click title to read more) Continue reading Groundhog Night
His moustache wriggled like a caterpillar when he laughed. Florence hated it. She hated the moustache, she hated the high waistband of his tweed trousers, the way George cleared his throat all the time – huh-hummm. The protruding mole by his ear, the smell of stale pipe tobacco, the way he kept his fingernails so long that they cut into the skin of her arm now as he gripped her. She shook her arm, but he held it all the tighter. And while his mouth smiled, she saw anger in his eyes… Continue reading The Quiet Fight and Flight of Florence Morgan
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. Continue reading The Walls Have Ears (and Eyes)
When I’m writing a larger piece of work, one of the fun parts is the conjuring of odd snippets to add to the history or background of the story. Sometimes these snippets end up in the book (like the chapter headings in The Curtain Twitcher’s Handbook and the petitions in Blackwood), and sometimes they initiate a complete change of direction.
This snippet will be part of the book ‘Foxfires’. The protagonist, trapped in a snowbound farmhouse with strangers, will come across the thin volume of curious tales with this particular page corner turned down. He is already in fear of his life, so this’ll really make him freak out. Hee hee! (Sorry Jack!)
‘Curious Tales from Travels in Yorkshire’ by M.Nesbitt
Chapter 8: A Disturbance at an Inn on the Edge of the Moors
“In the autumn of 1905, the author was passing through a village on the edge of Saddleworth Moor when he decided to rest and take refreshment at a small inn. At first glance, the inn seemed peaceful and emanated a warm glow from a lit fireplace but, upon entering, I was alarmed to find several weeping women and angry men. A number of the gentlemen were arming themselves as if for battle, though the distressed ladies pleaded with them to reconsider. They made no allowance for a stranger in their midst and continued with their heated discussion.
I asked the innkeeper if I could partake of a brandy as the weather was inclement, and it appeared winter was arriving before its time. He poured me my drink with one ear on the growing dispute behind me. I wondered out loud what was happening and he shook his head with a grimace and told me that Mr Hawkins, a young farmer, had not returned from tending his sheep in the hills. His sheepdog, Bess, came home without him and in a dreadful state, covered nose to tail in mud and bleeding from numerous lacerations. Clearly agitated, she set off again after just a few hours rest, presumably to find her master, and she had not come back. Continue reading “Building up a History for ‘Foxfires’”
You never need to throw writing away, because every piece of writing contains something useful. Continue reading Writing and Cucumbers
The previous post – ‘First Day Nerves’ is connected to this one. Both come from the same story, which will probably be called APPLEHEART.
It will be a long time before I can call it a book, and, to be honest, it’s already been stewing for a good number of years. Checking back, I wrote the Appleheart excerpt in 2014, and First Day Nerves is from 2016. It’s now almost 2018 and I have the best part of four chapters. Four years to write four chapters!?
This is what I like to call a ‘slow-cook book’, and they’re often the best. I’ll keep adding to it, and all sorts of ideas will get mixed in along the way. It should make for lots of flavour, just like a long-simmered stew!
My mother said I would regret choosing art as a career. My father couldn’t care less what I chose. He was, however, worried about Ned and drama. If he’d ever seen any of Ned’s acting; if he’d bothered to go to the school plays or the drama group productions like I had, he wouldn’t have been so worried. My brother was a natural. We were still in nappies when he began to people his world with characters from his imagination. They occasionally took him over so that he became someone else entirely. Many times, over the years, his acting made me laugh so hard I was sick, or cry until I had a headache.
As kids, we would sit together in a tent pitched in the middle of the room we shared. It was like a wigwam, but one we’d made by haphazardly stitching old sheets together and stealing bamboo canes out of the garden. Only we two were allowed in. No family. No friends. Because, inside that tent, was our own little world. A stage for Ned, a studio for me. We would sit together for hours, forgetting empty tummies and full bladders and all the boring routines of life. I had my drawing pad and my coloured pencils on my knee. Ned told me all about the people in his world. I drew them for him.
“Draw an apple for Murphy. He loves apples more than anything.”
I drew an apple for Murphy and tilted the pad.
“No. He only likes red apples. Not green ones.”
I rubbed out the apple, picked up the red pencil, and started again. “What about Mia Emilia? What does she like best?”
“Mia Emilia doesn’t like anything anymore. She’s always sad. She has a face like this.” He pulled the saddest face I’d ever seen. “And she only ever talks in a whisper.”Continue reading “How long does a book take to cook?”