You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Fiction’ tag.


FROM THE ARCHIVE: 24th September 2014
The Court-Harman Girls Greeting Card School stories have always been popular and continue so to be. When I was a child, my contemporaries and I were suckers for Elinor M Brent-Dyer’s Chalet S…

Source: First Night Design | You’re a Brick, Angela!

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

Advertisements

Originally posted in The Guardian.

Marlon James (Jamaica): A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld)
The first Jamaican writer to be nominated for the Booker, James’s third novel, told in a multitude of voices, builds on the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in 1976 to tell the story of Jamaica over three decades: the guns and corruption, the drugs and the music. “Like a Tarantino remake of The Harder They Come but with a soundtrack by Bob Marley and a script by Oliver Stone and William Faulkner”, said the New York Times.

Anne Tyler (US): A Spool of Blue Thread: A novel (Chatto & Windus)
The Big Theme of Tyler’s career – Family – which has followed her through 20 novels since The Tin Can Tree in 1965, taking in Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and The Accidental Tourist along the way – is here again. The fresh inflection this time round is the valedictory mood, in what Tyler said would be her last book before…

via Man Booker prize 2015: the longlist – in pictures | Books | The Guardian.


E-type-carriage-train

Victorian E-type carriage [Wikimedia]


In the mid-to-late 1990s, I started writing a piece of fiction aimed at what is now referred to as a Young Adult audience. As I have started to look back at all my writing to see what can be continued and what might need to be updated, I thought I would give you a taster of The Railway Carriage and see whether it piques your interest enough to  want to know what happens. There are another two chapters which were written at the time, and the story is based around a converted Victorian railway carriage on the Isle of Wight which was owned by my grandmother and was where we spent all our summer holidays as children. If so many of my belongings were not still packed up in boxes from the move to Crete, I would be able to show you a photograph of that very carriage, which had been painted white. As it is, I give you something similar from Wikimedia.


Chapter One

“Why didn’t you tell me it was going to be so painful? If I’d known, I’m not so sure I’d have gone through with it.”

I had to grab the banister to stop myself from falling.  Mum didn’t know I’d heard. She didn’t know I was there.  She was on the phone to her friend Sheila and I guess she thought I was safely up in my room.

I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation because there was too much noise inside my head.  It felt as if someone was drilling a hole in  my brain and pouring plenty of poison into it. So many questions.  Angry ones they were too.

Why?  Why hadn’t they told me?  What had I ever done to them that they should have kept something like that from me?  They’d been living a lie, pretending all the time.  Her and Dad.

Nothing made sense any more.  Apart from their love for Gabi.  No wonder they were so doting towards my baby sister.  Except that she wasn’t my sister, was she?  How can you have a proper sister when you’re adopted?  And what else could I be if Gabi was the first time Mum had gone through the pain of childbirth.

Looking back, I should have questioned Mum about it there and then. I should have walked on down the stairs, waited for her to hang up and asked to talk about it.  But I didn’t.  Then again, if I had, I wouldn’t have got to know Jakob and none of the other things would have happened.

Instead, I went back up to my room and lay on my bed for a good forty minutes.  It took that long for the pain behind my eyes to subside.  I couldn’t cry – I felt numb.

I couldn’t ring my best buddy, Sarah, because she was on holiday in France with her family. I didn’t even have a boyfriend who could give me some support because I’d given Johnny Lace the elbow when he forgot my birthday.  (A bit extreme, I suppose, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s etcetera.)  So I did what I always do when I need solace – I went down to the beach for a swim.

My swimming costume was getting too small for me but Mum had said that it would have to do me a little longer because they couldn’t afford to buy me a new one, what with all the stuff they’d had to buy for Gabi.  Second-best, that’s what I’d been in the weeks since Gabi was born.  Now I knew I’d always been second-best. Always would be.

It was mid-afternoon and the grockles were out in force but that didn’t bother me.  When you live somewhere that most people only go for a holiday, you learn to pretend the tourists aren’t there; either that or go mad.

It wasn’t the hottest day of the summer but it was pretty close and I stormed into the water not caring whom I splashed on the way.  You have to be careful of the rocks and seaweed but I’ve lived on the Isle of Wight all my life and I could draw a map of the rocks in Bembridge blindfold.

I suppose I swam up and down for about half an hour.  The tide was going out and when it was too shallow to swim without paddling miles out to sea, I went and sat on my towel.

A couple of children were trying to build a sandcastle nearby.  They didn’t have any spades or buckets so they weren’t getting very far but it was soothing to watch them.

Bembridge_beach_2

Bembridge beach, Isle of Wight [Wikimedia]

There was no-one on the beach that I knew apart from Mr. Rozen. And I didn’t really know him.  He lived next door to us in a converted Victorian railway carriage set at the bottom of a small, overgrown orchard.  He kept himself pretty much to himself as far as we were concerned so I didn’t really know what he was like.

I nodded at him when I saw him.  He was sitting further back near the wooden steps that led up towards Swains Lane, watching those same children with their sandcastle. He nodded in return and smiled.  He had one of those very lined faces: wrinkles in places you didn’t think people got wrinkles.

I was glad that we weren’t on anything more than nodding acquaintance.  Right at that moment I needed to be left in peace.  I didn’t have the energy for polite conversation.  How could I when my whole life was in crisis?

Eventually the children nearby were gathered up by their parents and taken off for ice creams and I lay down on the towel and closed my eyes.

I must have fallen asleep because when I next sat up, the tide was right out, almost as far as the fort.  On a really low tide, it’s possible to walk right up to it.  I stared at the fort for some time before the full import of what I’d learned hit me with renewed force.

Only then did the tears start. And I couldn’t stop them, they just kept rolling down my cheeks.  I neither knew nor cared who noticed.  I felt so alone.  I wonder if you know what that’s like. My world had turned upside down and inside out and I didn’t feel able to trust anyone or anything.  It’s a horrible, horrible feeling.

I did once hear someone say that we come into this world alone and we go out of it alone but I didn’t want to feel so alone at fourteen. Who does?

And the tears kept on coming.  My body didn’t judder and my head didn’t twitch but the tears continued to fall.

“Tell me to go away if you wish, but a happy lady you are not.”

I looked up to see Mr Rozen.  I wanted to say ‘piss off!’ but I couldn’t find the right words.

“Would you mind if I sat down?”  His English was slightly accented and rather formal.  I still couldn’t speak and he took that as a ‘yes’.

“Is it possible I could help?”

“I-”

“No matter.  You do not have to tell me.”

Why wouldn’t he go away?  Couldn’t he see my tears were none of his business?

“I cannot bear to see anyone cry.”

This made me cry even more.

“Olivia?  That is your name, isn’t it?  I’ve heard you being called in from the garden,” he added, as if not to explain would make it seem as if he had been spying on us.  “My name is Jakob.”

My body was shuddering now.  He put his hand on my shoulder but I was crying so hard that I was past caring about strange men on beaches.  In any case, he wasn’t a stranger, he wasn’t offering me sweets, and he lived next door.

It’s difficult to explain but the touch of his hand had a calming effect on me and the tears eventually stopped.   I told him that although my name was Olivia, everyone called me Mouse.

“Except when they are angry and calling you in for supper?” he suggested.  He was smiling now.  Really smiling.

“Yes,” I said, and couldn’t help smiling myself.

Happy_old_man

Happy old man on the beach [Wikimedia]

“No, no!” he cried when he saw me reach for a corner of my towel to wipe my face.  “You’ll get sand in your eyes.”  He pulled a wad of tissues out of his rucksack and handed me several.

“Thank you,” I said, and hiccupped.

“I have seen you many times swimming.  You are a strong swimmer.”

“I love it,” I said.  “It’s the only worthwhile thing in my life.”

“Oh now.  I am sure there are other things.  And whatever your problem may be, it will be sorted out.  I am certain.”

“How can it be?” I burst out.   “It’s awful!  I’ll never get over it, NEVER!”

“‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’  Come.  Let us go for a walk.”

And I found myself walking all the way round to the harbour with him and back again.  Not speaking.  Just companionable silence.  I will always be grateful for that.  He knew that was exactly what I needed.

Perhaps we made an odd couple because I noticed someone staring at us quite intently for a while.  I’m average height for my age but Mr Rozen was probably about the same as me in spite of being so much older.  I didn’t know how old he was then but I found out later that he was seventy-three.

He never questioned why I was called Mouse but I told him anyway as we walked back home along Swains Lane. “I don’t do a lot of talking but when I do…”

“…you make up for it!”  He stopped outside his gate and shook my hand.  “Perhaps we meet again for a swim, yes?”

I nodded.  “I’d like that, Mr Rozen.”  It would take a while before I felt happy calling him Jakob.

I watched him shut the gate and walk down the grassy drive.  He was incredibly upright and solid for his age and if it hadn’t been for his wrinkles, you’d have thought he was nearer to fifty.

As I turned in at our gate, a  red Volvo drew up opposite.  I thought it was my father’s until I saw the number plate.  The driver stayed where he was and as I closed the gate behind me, I was aware that he was staring at me.

Sarah Vernon © 27-05-15

Related

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


First Night Design

School stories have always been popular and continue so to be. When I was a child, my contemporaries and I were suckers for Elinor M Brent-Dyer‘s Chalet School series. Some of us went for Enid Blyton; although I read the likes of Malory Towers, I was not enamoured. It was Summer Term at the Chalet School or Mary-Lou of the Chalet School that consumed me.

You're a Brick, Angela!You’re a Brick, Angela! by Mary Cadogan

‘You’re a brick, Angela!’ became a well-known expression symbolising such stories, which were published by Angela (pronounced ‘brazzle’) Brazil and many others. Brazil was one of the first to breach the overwhelming prominence in the marketplace of ‘improving’ books for children. While now we consider her tales quaint, out-dated and clichéd, their influence on other writers was profound. They were devoured at the time although there were some who felt the books were immoral…

View original post 56 more words


School stories have always been popular and continue so to be. When I was a child, my contemporaries and I were suckers for Elinor M Brent-Dyer‘s Chalet School series. Some of us went for Enid Blyton; although I read the likes of Malory Towers, I was not enamoured. It was Summer Term at the Chalet School or Mary-Lou of the Chalet School that consumed me.

‘You’re a brick, Angela!’ became a well-known expression symbolising such stories, which were published by Angela (pronounced ‘brazzle’) Brazil and many others. Brazil was one of the first to breach the overwhelming prominence in the marketplace of ‘improving’ books for children. While now we consider her tales quaint, out-dated and clichéd, their influence on other writers was profound. They were devoured at the time although there were some who felt the books were immoral and a bad influence!

The Court-Harmon Girls by L T Meade, a pseudonym for Elizabeth Thomasina Meade Smith (1844–1914), was published in 1910. The above greeting card is taken from my original copy of the book in which I have incorporated the front cover and the spine, as well as a little decorative flourish!

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah



Reblogged from Synkroniciti

Are you attracted to characters and story lines that surprise you? Life doesn’t always make sense and neither does art.

© semihundido with CCLicense

Many literary works are peopled with stereotypes and follow formulae which have been set down by tradition. We are used to villains, jilted lovers, clever servants, even flawed heroes, and we know how they should behave and how their actions should be rewarded. Sometimes it is fulfilling to see our sensibilities validated, especially if we live in a world that does not often recognize those sensibilities, but, as a steady diet, it becomes boring and can even discourage empathy in our daily lives.

Read more…

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Reblogged from Cristian Mihai

It doesn’t matter if you plan on self-publishing your story, or you want to find an agent, or you just want to print it out and put it under your pillow, your story is ready when you feel there’s nothing more to add, nothing more to cut, nothing more to tweak. If you can read your entire manuscript without wanting to make a single change, then you’re good to go – it’s the best you could do at the time. Maybe a break is good, maybe it’s not. All I know is that I edit and re-write and tweak my stories until I just want to get them published and never have to read them again.

Read more…

I’m still not back in the loop with writing Comfort in a Cotton Frock for #NaNoWriMo — well, three words, to be precise — so here is more advice from Cristian Mihai.

(The Recommended Tags service on WordPress is still suggesting the 2011 Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament when I do a NaNoWriMo post!  Bizarre.)

Comfort in a Cotton Frock Day 1
Comfort in a Cotton Frock Day 2
Comfort in a Cotton Frock Day 3

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

 

TRANSLATE

Award-Free Blog

About Me

about.me

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 15,488 other followers

Archives

Categories

Artists 4 Peace

Twitter

FND on Twitter

Facebook

FND on Facebook

YesterdayAfter

© Sarah Vernon and First Night Design 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sarah Vernon and First Night Design with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Advertisements
The Secret Barrister

Independent Blogger of the Year, The Comment Awards 2016 & 2017

Heritage Calling

A Historic England Blog

British Pathé

Updates from the Archive on WordPress

Homeless up north

My experiences of my time sleeping rough on the streets of North east England

Free Vintage Illustrations

Free full-color vintage illustrations in the public domain! Curated from postcards, books, ads, and more antique media from the 19th to early 20th-century.

Disappointed Idealist

Ranting from the chalkface

Notes from the U.K.

Exploring the spidery corners of a culture and the weird stuff that tourist brochures ignore.

%d bloggers like this: