Being Watched – My New Book

The story starts with a bike ride. This is the only picture I could find.

This is a small excerpt from my forthcoming YA mystery book. I hope you like it. I am nervous and excited at the same time. I was keen to get into the YA genre as I enjoy reading YA stories a lot. Inspired by a range of authors, I decided to try my hand at something mysterious but still grounded in genuine drama.

I simply couldn’t look her in the eye. I shied away from her gaze as I tugged her up from beneath the scratchy hedge that had protected our falls. With a cut lip and some already visible bruises, I was feeling worse for wear. She had a bump on her cheek and a few grazes, but seemed to have come off better than I had. It was difficult to get back to reality and regain our focuses after such a traumatic event. Glancing back over my shoulder, I could see the house looking almost unchanged. It seemed to stand more erect than before apart from the shattered windows of the conservatory and the door that was hanging off its hinges. It blew in the wind and banged loudly every second or two. It’s rhythm was awkward and seemed to resonate within my chest. She looked at me and caught my eye. We had survived something that only we could ever understand. Nobody would even believe us if we told them. It all started that day when I suggested we look for her stupid blue scarf. But it was not her fault. Far from it. It needed to come about in this way. I can remember everything right from when we got together that morning to cycle into the woods.

 

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Chapter One

 

It was quite a sunny day and we were enjoying a ride over to the neighbouring town where we wanted to get some new trainers. Mum had given me some cash, with strict instructions to get ones that would last a long time rather than just ones that looked good out and about on the streets. She had reminded me that training shoes were for exercise and fitness and not just for showing others how much money I could waste. I was not as bothered about looks as she thought, but I did want to make sure that I got my favourite brand. Siobhan, however, was also interested in checking out a new shop which apparently everyone was talking about. By everyone, she must have meant her girly friends, as I knew nothing about it. It was one of those new shops that sold stuff at a reduced rate from outlets that belonged to big chains and she had her hopes set on buying cheap trainers and still having enough money left for a brand new pair of cut price designer jeans. I suppose we both had brands that we liked and so we had a similar reason for going to town that day. We just had not planned on getting interrupted. By interrupted, I mean starting a sequence of events that would lead to us being swept into a bush, grazed and washed out, lucky to still be in one piece. But that was all yet to come months later.

My First Published Book – An Extract

Here is an extract from my published book, ‘The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost.’ I hope that you enjoy it and consider checking out the kindle version of it.

How could I keep everything as normal as possible? How could I hold my head up high? Nothing made any sense to me anymore. I was overwhelmed, bewildered and out of painkillers. My head pounded slowly as it had for the past ten hours. A night spent at my mum’s house was needed but I really ought to go back there, to the home I had shared with Michelle. My heart was sat throbbing gently in the soles of my shoes. My ears quietly rang. My nose ran tirelessly. I felt as though reality had subsided and everything was a mix between chaos and sublime fantasy. My children needed me. No doubt about that. But what could I say? What should I do? Who could I turn to? Why didn’t I see any of this coming? I was not one to cry but tears fell out of my eyes like rain from an overloaded storm cloud suddenly offloading. Like daggers, they seemed to cut across my cheeks and dig into my jaw, carving faint yet permanent etchings across my face and staining me forever like ageing creams dissolving the past and dripping poignantly onto the floor as if flooding and muddying the future and any chance of escape.

 

I had put a few clothes in a bag last night and got out of there as the police had urged me to. They wanted to examine the house and take finger prints and find out exactly what she did. I had accidentally taken her jumper with me. As I picked it out of the bag I thought about the last time I had seen her in it. Just the other evening. She had been cooking salmon and I recalled her taking it off because she said it stank of fish. I sniffed it now and it was clean and fragrant. It reminded me of spring and the strolls we took through the hills. My heart sank back down into those soles and I gathered myself together. My kids were stood either side of me as they saw me caress her jumper. They leant into my shoulders and we stood in silence, looking out of the window, reflecting quietly.

 

I gathered up their stuff and we got in the car quickly. My mum asked if I would be alright on the road driving in this state. I tried to make her believe that I was capable and I started to drive off, without looking over my shoulder. I needed to face up to this. As I drove quite slowly through the mainly car-less roads, the usual warmth associated with going home did not reassemble and I was left feeling confused, uncomfortable and out of place. I noticed a glazed look in Alfie’s eyes and the sparkle of partly evaporated tears chalked into his face. I could not determine the way Tess felt exactly as she looked quite serious yet I sometimes thought I could see the beginnings of a smile, especially as we passed some of our favourite haunts, like the park, the duck pond and the place where she went to dancing lessons. I prayed to a god that I had never really believed in that she might get through this in one piece and have nothing but fond memories of her wonderful mother. Little did I know this day was going to resonate with her more strongly than anyone else. Alfie was the one with mixed emotions, so I largely anticipated him suffering greatly.

 

We turned into our street eventually and I could still see the police cordon wrapped around our garden. There seemed to be no sign of anyone though and I had been assured we could return home today. So we got out of the car slowly and were soon approached by our elderly neighbour who hugged us all in turn and gave me some stew in a little plastic pot. ‘It must be so awful for you,’ said Margaret as she squeezed Alfie tightly.

Are You An Interactive Reader?

Books are amazing! They are full of windows into other worlds and into other people’s souls. Children learn so much about society and grammar, as well as how to write creatively themselves, by reading a good variety of books.

At school, teachers generally find interactive ways to connect with stories and for children to gain a better understanding of the materials they are reading through drama, art and music. As adults we tend to do this much less but I think that finding ways to interact with the books that you read can make the activity of reading even more enjoyable as well as engaging our brains, keeping those synapses active.

Here are a few questions to consider. As usual, I have noted my own responses underneath each one. I look forward to reading your thoughts on these.

1) Do you ever look into the subjects or locations covered within your reading books?

For me, if I come across a new subject or something that I have less awareness of, I quickly open up Google and have a look for more information about that particular topic. This can stem from a tricky word which has intrigued me or even an exotic place that I’ve never heard of. If a book is set on a Greek island, I want to visualise it by opening a map of that location, for example. I want to know the terrain and check out a few pictures taken on that island too.

2) Have you ever unpicked a story with friends?

Many people join book clubs for this very reason. Discussing a book as you travel through its pages can be fun and fascinating. Taking in the opinions of others and engaging in a good debate about the gritty issues uncovered can be satisfying.

Although I never found a book club to join locally, I often read a book at the same time as a friend. We can then have a good natter about the last chapter we read and have a laugh predicting what might happen next. If a story is particularly harrowing we can contemplate how we would deal with that issue or make a decision, give the facts we are presented with.

3) Would you make something artistic based on a book?

After I have read a book which is very visual, riddled with detailed description, I’ve often found myself doodling. I like to sketch cartoon-style and in the past have done this related to book images. Obviously we all see book settings differently and so creating something based on a book is really interesting. You could make a clay model, do a colouring or maybe even draw your own map of a mythical world.

4) Have you ever written fan fiction?

People play around with popular narratives and put their favourite story characters into completely random situations.

Not yet. You hear about this all of the time at the moment. Harry Potter has had so many fan fiction stories written, using its characters. This is where fans take the story characters and write their own version of events or continue a well known narrative in a way that they would like to see it play out.

Commonly, fans change love interests, alter storylines and mix up relationships, making friends from enemies. A good example is where Harry Potter is rather good ‘friends’ with his nemesis, Draco Malfoy.

I wrote this post because I think that interacting with books can help you to get out of a reading slump. It is also meant to be a bit of fun. I’d love to see your responses to the above questions in the comments. How interactive with your reading are you?

I recently wrote a post about how lazy a reader you might be which is here. If you enjoyed my article perhaps consider following my newish blog, where I write about books, mental health and the environment.