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Stories

I write stories ranging from flash fiction all the way through short stories, up to novellas, as well as writing novels. My short stories have been short-listed for major awards and broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio 4.

Novella:
Newton

England, 1606: the rich are getting richer; the poor are losing what little they had. The village of Newton in Northamptonshire is where Elizabeth and her family end up: it's also where Beardy John, a tinker cleared from his home as a child, must return to.

Their meeting will change history. Together with Elizabeth's husband Jacob, they will try to take on the powers in the land.

 

A novella in parts.

Part One

Sun drenches the room: you could believe it’s still summer, and not the harvest-time, thinks Elizabeth. The blue sheets wind around Jacob’s body as he gets up. He is going to fetch Emmet in. She wishes he’d stayed: it seems he is always in a hurry to find other things, other people, to bring to her. As if he is not enough to stand between her and her pain.
   He stands in the doorway, watching their daughter toddle towards the bed. Emmet clambers in to lie against Elizabeth’s warmth. Jacob smiles: he says he must go out now, but that she should have another day’s rest. And she is not to try and lift the heavy pot herself. He has brought in the firewood, he says.
   He is busy now with other things, and then he is taking his hat from its peg.
   She watches him leave. He and the others will be bringing in the last of the wheat, and then tonight, there will be the feasting. She thinks back to the harvest supper when she and Jacob were hand-fasted, and she smiles. The pain of losing her last child is not so great that she would want to do things differently. There is no day without night.

She is one of few folk at home in the village when Lord Tresham’s man comes round, later that morning. Everyone except for the old, the infirm, are out in the fields, bringing in the last of the common harvest.
   Lord Tresham’s man has brought a horse and cart, and is directing another, less fortunate, man to offload some of its contents outside each house.
   Wooden barrels – that’s what they’re unloading. They are leaving a keg of beer, at the door of each house.
   
At first, she is pleased, but the longer she stands there looking, as the cart, by stops and starts at other doors, approaches her, the more strange it seems. Lord Tresham is a man who, when inspecting her fine blue-dyed dress one May Day, asked whether it was his woad she was using, to colour it. As if the plant did not also grow in the marshes! She squints along the dusty lane at the two men and the cart, and she finds this generosity more and more unbelievable, the longer she looks on it.

 

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