The third annual Cornish Reading Challenge marks the first year I can join in as an author, as well as a blogger. Last November, I published a book of short stories called Weltanschauung, two of which are set in Plymouth, on the other side of the Tamar.
As depicted on the front cover of Weltanschauung (painted by artist Sammi McEwan), Simon works at the Tamar bridge, which connects (or divides) Plymouth and Cornwall. (I wrote all about why I love the Tamar over on TripFiction, which you can read here.) Simon’s life isn’t quite as it appears. Reliable, if a little odd, Simon has a dark secret from his past, that seems intent on catching up with him.
For me, moving down to Plymouth was a complete life change. After failing to get into Plymouth University, I was accepted on the Police Studies course at Duchy College. Suddenly, I had a couple of weeks to pack my stuff and move 250 miles away from home.
Leaving home was an easy decision for me. I’d never had an affinity with where we lived, and my family life was less than ideal. I needed a fresh start, so, when September came, I packed the car and said goodbye to Hertfordshire. I know many students who see their university life as a fun trip, a few years away from your mum’s rules, but still being able to take your washing home. It was completely different for me. I moved away with no intention of coming back.
I got a job, made friends, was dedicated to my studies, and built a life for myself. I loved living in Plymouth, studying and working in Cornwall. I loved my time at Duchy College, then my top-up year at Plymouth University. I even loved my dissertation – even if it did make me pull my hair out on several occasions! But the years passed quickly, and all too soon, it was time for me to make a decision.
In 2012, my second year at university, I found myself in a relationship with a guy from back home. This relationship with a big surprise, for everyone. But it happened, and, when the end of my studies came, I had to decide whether to continue with a long-distance relationship, or move back up country.
“Proper” jobs were scarce down in the West Country, and although I spent my long final summer searching, I couldn’t find anything I really wanted to do – or that could support me when I moved out of cheap student accommodation. I wrestled with this for months. You know when people say that there’s a clear point in their life where they had to make a pivotal decision? Well, this was mine.
I finally arrived at the decision that I would move back up to Hertfordshire – but I wasn’t over the moon about it. I spent many evenings down at the Tamar, parked in the car park overlooking the water, trying to burn the image into my mind.
It was at the water’s edge that the idea for Only If came to me. Freja and Ivy, twin sisters, are torn apart when Freja commits suicide on the rocky cliffs that hold up the Hoe, for a devastating reason. I wanted to talk about rape and the many ways it can affect a person, and the link between twins has always fascinated me. They’d moved down with their mum for a fresh start, but what they got was something entirely more sinister.
As it turns out, I’ve now got a career, a house, two cats, and I married “that guy from back home” last year. We moved to another town in Hertfordshire, one that we’re much more suited to, and we’re actually quite content. But a part of me will always reside in the West Country, and that’s why I write about it.
Win A Copy of Weltanschauung!
I have a signed copy of Weltanschauung available to give away! Simply email your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Author
Vikki Patis is a writer and blogger at The Bandwagon, where she reviews books, interviews authors, and gives her opinion on a wide variety of topics, from feminism to fibromyalgia.
The harbinger, the oddball, the remaining twin… Weltanschauung seeks to open your eyes to different stories, set in different worlds and at different times, but with the same theme in mind: to make you question your worldview.
This collection of short stories traverses genres, introduces a variety of characters, and shines a light on some of our deepest fears.
Challenge your perceptions.