In Orkney on holiday and beginning my third novel. Don’t have a working title yet, but reading out the opening lines to the family results in howls of laughter and ‘Mum, you can’t write that!’. To paraphrase Stephen King, If you intend to write truthfully, your days as a polite member of society are numbered. Or as someone else said, ‘If there is a writer in the family there is a traitor in the family’.
I have a new working title. Remember Death is now entitled, Dancing Towards the Dark.
Here’s an excerpt from my second novel, very much a work in progress.
Something shifted, as if the needle of a record player had jumped from one groove to another, changing the music to a mournful lament. She hadn’t yet learned to read the signs, but she felt the tiny alteration in the direction of the wind and saw the subtle change in the intensity of the light. Afterwards, when she remembered, the sensations were so vivid that it seemed that there was something more than her memory at work, as if her brain had saved a movie film, and once the switch was turned, all she had to do was to close her eyes and watch it happen.
A summer night and a breeze from the south wrinkles the sea. The water is silver, like molten metal, and above, dark clouds move steadily across a pale sky. Across the Sound the neighbouring island is silhouetted against a shimmer of pink; a luminous halo, the colour radiates from behind the farmhouse. Four cattle on the crest of the hill are like shadow puppets. In single file they float just above the skyline. A flock of oystercatchers screech their warning call. The eider and his mate set sail, pretending indifference. There is the grating sound of a boat being dragged up the slipway.
Some force propelled it into her room, and at the time there was no indication of the struggles ahead. If she had known then what she knew later, she would have made more of an effort to avoid that first meeting.
‘I should have guessed,’ she would scold herself. ‘What child of seven accepts the sudden arrival of Death like an old playmate. I was completely fearless, I should have guessed.’
There was a strange shadow on the wall. She wondered if the dog had crept into the house from its kennel and jumped on to her bed, but even half-asleep she knew that it felt strange. She wriggled down under the covers and pushed with her feet. Something moved. It was solid but somehow also weightless.