Being Watched – My YA Book

As my new book is now a week old, I thought I would share another extract from it. This story is about two teenagers who are about to do their A-Levels when they come across a derelict country house. From that moment on their lives change for the worse as they cannot escape a feeling of constantly being watched.

Here is the snippet:

It was getting close to twilight when I called out to mum.

“I’m off to hang out with Max.”

“Alright, remember your key,” she yelled back as I undid the door that linked the garage to the kitchen.

 

I had picked up some crisps and other vital supplies on my way down and squeezed a bottle of lemonade into my rucksack before picking up my bike. I took a deep breath and was just about to leave when my phone started ringing. It was Max.

“Sorry man, I can’t make it,” he said with a frog in his throat. “You know how much I wanna be there. My throat has flared up and I have just been sick.”

“Oh man. That sucks,” I said shrugging my shoulders.

“Can we do it tomorrow instead?” he said with a genuine sound of someone who was not well.

“Don’t worry. We got this,” I said, putting the phone down and opening the garage up. I wheeled my bike out, clicked off the light and pulled the door down behind me. Taking a deep breath, I switched on my lights and took off.

 

My first stop would be the local shop. I needed to see if they had any garlic, just in case it was a vampire. Ok this was a long shot, but you have to be prepared for everything right? As I zoomed through the aisles, I soon set eyes on a clove of garlic and chucked it into my basket. Nearby they sold kitchen knives so I thought I may as well get one of those too. It would take the place of a stake just in case I needed to stick whatever was in there in its chest.

 

Maybe I was getting too carried away and this was starting to be me acting out my favourite movies a little, but I knew Siobhan would be pleased that I had taken precautions. To my surprise, when I got to the checkout, the cashier asked me for ID as she said I could only buy a knife if I had proof of age. Of course, that was one thing I had forgot to bring with me so I gave her the knife back and paid for the garlic. I also grabbed some cheap chocolate buttons to add to my supplies. I knew Siobhan had a soft spot for them and we might both need some instant energy during our mission. Especially if things got really scary.

 

I threw that idea to the back of my thoughts and got back on my bike. I didn’t want to be late and leave her waiting for me at the top of that hill. My feet ached a little as I had done some cricket practise earlier. Every time I turned the pedals they reminded me that I had fallen over trying to catch a long ball. Eventually I neared the top of the road and could see her stood next to her bike, earphones on, staring at her phone. She waved when she caught a glimpse of me.

“Hey, what took you so long?” she jested, knowing full well that we were both early.

“What you listening to?” I asked as I got off my bike and sidled up with her.

“Shawn Mendes. What else?” she replied, as if to say it was obvious.

“You know Max can’t make it? He came over sick.”

“That guy is sick. For sure,” she laughed, not really meaning it in a bad way, but equally not referring to him being cool either.

“Are you ready for this?” I asked, nervously.

Thank you for taking the time to read this short extract from my YA drama, Being Watched.

The Fathers, The Sons and The Anxious Ghost – Book Extract

As I am currently having a little break in Scotland, I decided that today I would share a brief snippet from my first published book. This story of three families was written four years ago and came out in 2019. I am still proud of it because it covers so many different topics in just a hundred and two pages. Hopefully you will find the extract intriguing.

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.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this small extract and hope that for some of you it grabbed your interest enough to maybe check out the book. For a recent book review that I did, have a look at my article about Exciting Times.

Where Can You Get Story Ideas From?

I have been thinking a lot about where ideas for great stories often come from. When we are at school, we are taught that a good story begins with a detailed setting and an interesting main character. In my experience, this is not a bad place to start. Almost every story I have ever written has emerged from a particular setting. The main character has usually developed soon afterwards.

Many of you will know that I began by writing short stories and I am a massive fan of short fiction. One of my favourite locations for a short story is somewhere snowy. Here is a short clip of a snowy setting that made me want to write a story about getting stuck in a snowdrift.

https://youtube.com/shorts/LL2m-X–wMc?feature=share

For me, a story nearly always starts with a certain location. I like to know where my characters are going to be based before I conjure up problems for them to deal with. As a writer, if you are suffering from writer’s block, perhaps explore some pictures of a variety of places before trying to imagine a storyline. Often the location will spark a story gem which can grow and satisfy.

Some settings I have enjoyed using are:

1) The seaside. A trip to Hunstanton gave me inspiration for a tale about a woman returning to the beach where her husband perished.

Hunstanton

2) The Swiss Alps. My holiday there made me think about what Christmas might be like there and set the scene for a story of a reporter sent to Switzerland to interview a guy claiming to be Jesus.

Switzerland

3) A Yorkshire town. A weekend away to Skipton started me thinking about a sleepy Yorkshire town where a corrupt mayor might hold the keys to more than just the town hall.

Yorkshire

4) One deserted Fenland house. Driving past an old house with shattered windows made me wonder who might have lived there. It inspired my upcoming YA novel about two teenagers being watched by a mysterious land owner.

5) A patisserie. A quaint French patisserie got me imagining two people meeting through a glass bakery counter. One was feverishly cleaning the glass while the other looked fondly at not only the baked goods but also the woman behind the counter. Their eyes met then they were transfixed.

The French Patisserie

Summary

For me, my best ideas come from travelling and it is no surprise that holidays have fuelled my stories. My lack of holidays during the pandemic has slowed down my creative writing but I am looking forward to some travelling across Europe in summer. My advice to any writer would be write about somewhere you know OR a place that you want to get to know well.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. For another post about writing stories, check out How To Write Short Stories. Please consider following my blog for future similar articles.