Cornish Reading Challenge: Read Street of the Scream by Sharon Tregenza

Children’s author and Cornish maid Sharon Tregenza has provided The Bandwagon with her short story, Street of the Scream, for Cornish Reading Challenge participants to read and enjoy.

new_pic_n-248x300

Beware the scream that can’t be seen, the icy stare, beware, beware – or it will push you over.

Saved by the bell? All well, all well, saved by the bell – it cannot push you over.

The whole class sang it as loud as they could and then burst out laughing. I had no idea what the hell they were doing and felt more like the new kid than ever.

Ms Penrose laughed too. ‘Okay you guys, enough, enough now.’ She flapped her hands to make everyone sit back down. ‘So, your holiday project is local myths and legends.’

She turned to me. ‘Ollie, I believe you’ve moved into the old Lanyon place on the dunes?’

This provoked an outburst of hoots and shouts and dumb zombie impressions. What the…?

I nodded.

‘Then you probably already know about the Street of the Scream?’

More wolf howls and ghost moans.

‘No,’ I said.

For a second there was an eerie silence in the classroom. Then the noises erupted again.

‘Enooough,’ Ms Penrose called out.  She turned back to me with a serious look on her face. ‘Where you live there’s a story, a legend. It’s all rubbish of course and I don’t want to scare you. I’ll tell you what, you can make your own enquires it’ll be a more interesting project. An outsider’s view – not that I mean you’re an outsider, Ollie,’ she added quickly.

She turned to the class. ‘You’ll work in pairs and, to help Ollie with the Street of the Scream legend, I think it should be…’

As she scanned the class, inside my head I whispered, Kenza, Kenza, Kenza.

‘Kenza,’ Ms Penrose said and I had to stop myself from fist pumping the air.

This was my chance to impress the most popular girl in the class. I may be rubbish at sports but I was smart. Once she got to know just how smart I was, maybe…’

It was break before I caught up with Kenza. She was sitting alone on the low stonewall that divided the playground from the tennis courts.

‘So what’s the deal with this ‘Scream’ crap?’ I said. I tried to sound casual and cool but my voice chose that moment to break and came out of my mouth like a duck squawk.

She giggled and I felt my face redden.

A group of girls rushed over, surrounded Kenza and began a garbled story about some local band. Shrieks and laughter drowned out any hopes of a quiet talk so I hoisted my backpack onto my shoulder and stood up.

Kenza grabbed my wrist, slid my shirtsleeve up and scribbled a series of numbers on my arm. She mumbled something.

‘What?

Snatching the pen lid from between her perfect teeth she said, ‘text me.’

I ran my fingers gently across the numbers and smiled.

 

***

 

Mum was making a Cornish flag by gluing seashells painted black and white onto a piece of chipboard.  Since we’d moved to Cornwall six months before she’d gone Cornish crazy.

‘I love it here, Ollie. I love it so much, the sea, the light. Everything. Cornwall is my spiritual home.’

‘Well maybe it was hers but I wasn’t sure it was mine. I missed my old school, my friends, Bristol. And with Dad working away, I missed him too.

I wriggled out of my backpack and let it drop with a thud to the floor. ‘What do you know about the Street of the Scream,’ I said.

She frowned. ‘Funny you should ask that. We were talking about it last evening. I told the people at my Cornish Culture class we’d moved into Mrs Lanyon’s house and they got all silly. They made ghost noises and stuff and one started singing this song. Something about beware, beware and listening for a bell.’

Mum flicked her hand to dislodge a shell that was stuck to her fingers. It shot off, pinged against the microwave and ricocheted into a corner.

She ignored it.

‘Wait. Here. Look,’ she said.

I followed her over to the window and focused on where she pointed across the sand dunes to the cliff edge.

‘See? Those piles of rubble were once cottages, part of a street of houses. In the great storm of 1916 a huge chunk of the cliff collapsed into the sea taking several homes and drowning a whole family.’

She shuddered. ‘Just imagine, Ollie. Horrible.’

‘Yeah, but what’s all the scream stuff?’

‘Oh that? Apparently, where that lost street was, is haunted.’ She screwed up her nose. ‘No one seemed sure of the legend. They had different stories. Some of them said on the anniversary of the storm you can hear screams in the night, some that you can hear screams during storms. Just screams really.’

She opened a cupboard, took out a saucepan and put it on the hob.

‘It’s probably just gulls, or the wind howling between the sand dunes. Nice creepy little Cornish myth though, don’t you think? Beans and fish fingers be okay?’

‘Yeah. Beans and fish fingers are fine.’

 

***

 

I Googled: Street of the Scream, Perran Sands, Cornwall. Not much help there – bits and pieces on legend sites about ghostly screams and an article about the disaster of the great storm of 1916.

I read: Mr and Mrs Arthur Carew, their fourteen year old daughter and ten year old son are missing, presumed dead, after last night’s storm. Their home, at Perran Sands, plummeted into the icy seas when the cliff top collapsed at high tide. The rest of the street has been evacuated…

 

I lay face down on my bed and texted Kenza:

Meet me on the

                Street of the Scream

               tonight at 12:00.

               Research for our project?

                Ollie

 

It took a few minutes but when my mobile rang its text alert, I saw:

Totally!

Kenza

 

I sat upright. My heart thudded. I didn’t expect that. I was only joking. What now? Now I’d have to go. She’d think I was a total wuss if I backed out. Damn.

I looked out of my window into the darkness. A sudden shower of rain rattled against the glass like pebbles. Damn. Damn.

***

Almost Midnight. The stairs didn’t creak and the door unlocked silently. No reprieve by irate mother for me, then.

I stepped outside. The sand dunes were lumpy with shadows and the sea a mass of solid silver in the moonlight. The rain had stopped but clumps of damp sand clung to my trainers as I walked.

I reached the spot where rough squares of old stones and rubble showed where a line of cottages had once stood. They led to a massive gouge in the cliff. A black cleft hollowed out where the rest of the street should have been.

I turned in a circle. No sign of Kenza.

The sea churned slowly. A sudden wind moaned through the patches of long grass and they undulated like sea anemones. A shiver ran through me.

I texted:

I’m here. Where R U?

Ollie

 

The moon disappeared behind a cloud and the darkness made my skin crawl. I darted quick looks around me and took a deep breath, sucking in air that tasted of salt.

When the moonlight returned I saw her. She was standing on the crest of a sand dune, watching me. For one joyful second I thought it was Kenza but quickly realised this girl was taller, darker. She was wearing something long and white like a nightdress and her hair hung wet across her shoulders.

There was something wrong about her. Odd. As if she was a photograph cut out of night colours. As we stared at each other the sound seemed to drain out of the air.

Then, like a wave, she slid down the dune towards me in a shower of sand.

Into the intense silence she screamed. She screamed with her whole body. Her eyes locked wide and the black hole of her mouth stretched and rigid.

The scream hit me like a blow. I staggered backwards. My heart thudded like a rock inside my chest.

The next scream was even louder – the most piercing sound I’d ever heard – wild with hysteria.

I tried to run but my legs felt like water. In a panic, I stumbled and fell to the ground. I lay there, curled my knees up into my body and squeezed my eyes shut.

Somewhere inside the depth of the terrible scream I heard another sound. A bell.

The scream stopped dead. Instantly replaced by the whisper of the wind.

I forced myself to count to ten before I opened my eyes. The girl was gone.

My mobile was a bright rectangle of light in my hand. I scrambled to my feet swinging the phone back and forth like a torch.

I saw then how close I was to the edge of the cliff. Less than a foot away the ground dropped steeply down to the rocks and sea far below.

I ran.

Racing back across the dunes in wild frightened leaps.

In the safety of my room I dived under the duvet my body shaking uncontrollably. My mobile was still gripped firmly in my hand and I stared at the text:

 

 

R U CRAZY? I’m

not really going to meet

U in some haunted street

 at Midnight.

C U tomorrow.

Kenza x

 

I didn’t sleep at all that night. As my heartbeat gradually returned to normal I lay thinking over what had happened in the Street of the Scream.

I mean ghosts aren’t real. Right? So what the hell…?

The creepy song played over and over in my head like some horror movie opening:

Beware the scream that can’t be seen, the icy stare, beware, beware – or it will push you over.

And, anyway, if some hundred year-old ghostly, drowned girl was trying to murder me why had she stopped?

Then I remembered. The text from Kenza. As I teetered on the cliff edge my mobile had rung.

Into my confused brain crept the last line of that song:

Saved by the bell? All well, all well, saved by the bell – it cannot push you over.

*

Find out more about Sharon Tregenza here, read her Cornish poetry on The Bandwagon, and visit her website.

Cornish Reading Challenge: The Thief’s Daughter by Victoria Cornwall

This year, I’ve chosen The Thief’s Daughter by Victoria Cornwall as one of my Cornish Reading Challenge reads!

The Thiefs Daughter 500dpi

Hide from the thief-taker, for if he finds you, he will take you away …

Eighteenth-century Cornwall is crippled by debt and poverty, while the gibbet casts a shadow of fear over the land. Yet, when night falls, free traders swarm onto the beaches and smuggling prospers.

Terrified by a thief-taker’s warning as a child, Jenna has resolved to be good. When her brother, Silas, asks for her help to pay his creditors, Jenna feels unable to refuse and finds herself entering the dangerous world of the smuggling trade.

Jack Penhale hunts down the smuggling gangs in revenge for his father’s death. Drawn to Jenna at a hiring fayre, they discover their lives are entangled. But as Jenna struggles to decide where her allegiances lie, the worlds of justice and crime collide, leading to danger and heartache for all concerned …

I’m not usually one for romance novels – in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever browsed in the “romance” section of a bookshop! But The Thief’s Daughter is more than a romance novel. It’s a sweeping historical fiction, set in the depths of Cornwall in the 1700s, and it is truly enchanting.

I particularly liked Jenna, who, despite her status, her family, and, of course, her sex, manages to remain strong and independent, and speak her mind. It can be hard for authors to create Strong Female Characters in historical fiction, for women were severely oppressed simply for being women, but Cornwall manages to bring Jenna to life, making her strong and realistic. Cornwall has an excellent writing style, drawing you in and keeping you lost in her world. And I learned about the custom of wife selling – which is every bit as vile and sexist as you think!

It would be remiss of me to fail to point out the similarities to Poldark, and how much Jenna reminded me of Demelza. Her unfortunate start in life, the abuse she suffered at the hands of a man, the dressing up as a boy. Jenna, also like Demelza, goes to work for Jack as a housekeeper, but their relationship soon becomes more than a professional one. It’s the typical rags to riches (or rather, to moderate means) story, but Cornwall manages to weave the story perfectly, and make it original. For this is no rip-off of a popular story; The Thief’s Daughter stands strong on its own merits, and it is a tale to lose yourself in.

You can read all about Victoria Cornwall’s family history in Cornwall, and her recommendations for the Cornish Reading Challenge. What are you reading?

Amazon | Goodreads

Cornish Reading Challenge: Jane Johnson describes her Cornish roots

Jane Johnson is from Cornwall and has worked in the book industry for over 30 years, as a bookseller, publisher and writer. She was responsible for publishing the works of J. R. R. Tolkien during the 1980s and 1990s and worked on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, spending many months in New Zealand with cast and crew.

In 2005 she was researching in Morocco for The Tenth Gift, the bestselling novel that went on to sell in 26 countries, when a near-fatal climbing incident caused her to rethink her future. She returned home, gave up her office job in London, sold her flat, shipped the contents to Morocco and six months later married a Berber chef, Abdellatif. The couple live in Cornwall and winter in a village in the Anti-Atlas Mountains, where Abdel runs a restaurant. Jane still works, remotely, as a publishing director for HarperCollins, where she is responsible for publishing George RR Martin, Robin Hobb, Dean Koontz, Jonathan Freedland, Michael Marshall Smith, Mark Lawrence, and SK Tremayne. Her own novels include The Tenth Gift, The Salt Road, The Sultan’s Wife, Pillars of Light and Court of Lions (July 2017). In 2012, Jane was made an honorary cultural ambassador between Morocco and the UK by HRH Princess Lalla Joumala of Morocco (currently Morocco’s ambassador to the US).

Jane Johnson.jpg

During the first Cornish Reading Challenge in 2015, you told us about your family ties to West Penwith. Would you like to tell us more about your family history?

I researched our family history back in 2004 when I was working on the book that would become THE TENTH GIFT. I knew our Cornish family had deep roots here, and so it turned out, with parish records taking us back into the early seventeenth century. There were a couple of different branches – Kittos and Martins – but I wanted to trace the Tregenna family, since that’s a name that has all but died out in Cornwall, though there are Tregunnas and Tregenzas to be found, and we all know how fluid spelling could be in bygone times. I already knew that the Tregenna family originated in the Penwith and Roseland areas; but on my second genealogical foray last year I turned up another arm of the Tregenna family in the area outside Looe, in southeast Cornwall, where I grew up: around Duloe and Pelynt. The earliest of these ancestors turned out to be the rather gorgeously named Valentin Tregenna, born in 1608 – so a contemporary cousin of Catherine Tregenna, the heroine of THE TENTH GIFT, whose parish records logged her birth in 1606 (and no marriage or death records anywhere: hence the surmise that she was one of those taken out of the Mount’s Bay church by the Barbary raiders). I also turned up the fascinating fact that my father (who wasn’t Cornish at all!) owned and ran the bookshop in Falmouth just after the war: and my first event for THE TENTH GIFT just so happened to be at the Falmouth Bookseller. Life is indeed stranger than fiction.

Which book(s) would you recommend?

I read so much for work (I’m a publishing director at HarperCollins, responsible for several authors there) that reading time for pure pleasure is very limited (mainly to the 10 minutes before I go to sleep!). This year I have been immersed in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet, a truly phenomenal tour de force of characterization: you grow with the two central characters from early childhood till they are elderly women, through broken hearts, broken marriages, broken bodies, through childbirth and tragedy, careers and political upheaval. While you’re reading these books, you live in them, and the people in them feel like your own family. You find yourself wondering about them during the day; I’ve dreamed of Naples at night. So I’d heartily recommend these books: Naples, like Cornwall, is a poor area of the country where people do whatever they can to get by: I found I could draw lots of small parallels.

Beyond that, can I recommend to anyone who hasn’t read her the magnificent Robin Hobb? Again, characters are the key to her success: this is not fantasy of the sword and sorcery tradition but deeply rooted in the human experience and condition: you laugh and cry with her central characters – both abandoned/cast-off children trying to survive in a cut-throat world. As with the Ferrantes you watch the pair grow from childhood to late middle-age, their loves and losses, bonds and betrayals, disguises and deceptions. The series started with ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE and I’ve edited every single word of the 17 books that make up the series, which completes itself with ASSASSIN’S FATE, publishing this May. She’s in the UK for publication – I can’t wait to see her! – like her characters we too have grown older together in the very nearly 30 years we’ve worked together.

What are you currently working on? Anything interesting going on?

I’m in the interesting phase of thinking about two possible book projects, both set in Cornwall: one in Elizabethan times, one rather more recent. It’s been a busy year: I have two novels out in the UK this year after a bit of a dearth (slow researching and writing!). COURT OF LIONS is published in hardback in July. Here’s the description from the publishers:

Kate Fordham, escaping terrible trauma in her life, has fled to the beautiful sunlit city of Granada, ancient capital of the Moors in Spain, where she is scraping a living in a busy bar.

Sometimes at the lowest points in your life, fate will slip you a magical gift. One day in the glorious gardens of the Alhambra, once home to Sultan Abu Abdullah Mohammed, also known as Boabdil, Kate finds a scrap of paper hidden in one of the ancient walls. Upon it, in strange symbols, has been inscribed a message, or a poem, from another age. It has lain undiscovered since before the Fall of Granada in 1492, when the city was surrendered to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Born of love, in a time of danger and desperation, the fragment will be the catalyst that changes Kate’s life forever.

Worlds collide as two unusual love stories arc towards one another from the fifteenth and twenty-first centuries. COURT OF LIONS brings one of the great hinge-points in human history to vivid life, telling the story of the last Moorish sultan of Granada as he moves towards his cataclysmic destiny.

I’ll be doing a number of events in Cornwall and the rest of the country to promote it, including a launch in Central London and an evening at Waterstones Truro with some Moroccan food, clothes and jewellery, and a talk and reading.

And in the autumn, the University of Central Lancashire are publishing my Siege of Acre novel, PILLARS OF LIGHT, with a beautiful cover by Sancreed artist Noel Betowski: there will be a launch in Penzance.

What’s the best thing about living in Cornwall?

Cornwall is home for me. I lived here till I was 18 (in Fowey, then Looe) and went from school in Liskeard up to university in London, followed by 20 years working in the book industry in the capital, before my Moroccan adventure. Cornwall is where we all come back to, because it nourishes the soul. I can live an outdoor life here – walking the coast path, walking to shops in Newlyn and Penzance, writing outside in all sorts of beautiful hidden places (the subject of my blog) in a way I can’t anywhere else in the world. It’s also the place I feel drawn back to wherever I am in the world and it’s where I find my spiritual ease, as well as practising tai chi and kung fu at local classes, the discipline of which I love. It’s always good for the soul to be told you’re doing it all wrong and be taught with great care and attention how to do it right!

What are you reading right now?

I’m coming up on the very end of the final Ferrante and I can’t bear for it to end. I have a pile of about 15 books beside the bed into which to dive next. Which one I choose – thriller or historical, literary memoir or travel book – will depend on what mood Ferrante leaves me in. I hope it’s not too dark and desperate…

Jane Johnson | Facebook | @janejohnsonbakr

 

Cornish Reading Challenge: Angela Britnell talks about something old, something new

Author Angela Britnell talks about how Cornwall grabs hold and never lets go – no matter how far you travel.

When you’re born and grow up in Cornwall, it becomes part of you, and trying to stop it from influencing your writing is like trying to hold back the tide. I’ve been published for over ten years now and the vast majority of my stories are set wholly or partly in Cornwall, and usually feature at least one Cornish character. I suspect if I tried to write a fantasy novel set in space (unlikely, but go with me on this one), I’d still end up with a Cornish girl attempting to make pasties on Mars! I decided long ago to embrace my love for Cornwall, particularly since I now live in America and am a big fan of transatlantic romances (including my own of nearly 34 years). The culture contrast adds another layer of interest and often tension to my characters’ journeys. And where locations are concerned, there’s always something old, something new…

The old, familiar locations I use are places I remember from my childhood. I lived inland, as far as anywhere is in Cornwall, at the centre of the china clay mining industry. The waste piles are affectionately known as white pyramids and they sneaked into Love Me For a Reason, when I teased an American character that she would be able to go skiing on a visit there. I’m sure every small fishing village I describe contains aspects of Mevagissey woven through it, because my mother’s family came from there, and I’m still related to half of the village. The pastel painted fisherman’s cottages clinging to steep hills and surrounding a small harbour are typical of many others around the coast. The towns we shopped in, beaches we went to, and beauty spots we visited all find a home in my stories.

I often discover new locations to me when I’m writing. In the middle of Sugar and Spice, I needed the perfect spot for my hero to take the American celebrity chef he’s fallen in love with for a picnic, and settled on Cape Cornwall because it’s wild, beautiful, and less touristy than Land’s End. Luckily I was heading to Cornwall while writing that book and took the chance to visit. In the case of St. Agnes I’d been there as a child, but until I researched Cornish legends for Celtic Love Knot, I had never heard the fascinating story of the giant Bolster. My character was a Celtic mythology professor from Nashville, Tennessee (a touch of artistic license there!), who was particularly interested in Bolster. I found out about an amazing festival they hold every year recreating the legend, and am determined to make it there one May to see it in person. There are also Cornish settings that didn’t exist when I was growing up. Strictly speaking, Heligan Gardens did exist but wasn’t re-discovered until the 1990s, and I used it in a scene for one of my People’s Friend pocket novels when a character’s mother needed to be temporarily lost! Of course there’s also the marvellous Eden Project, which I was lucky enough to see being created from an abandoned clay pit around 2000. I’ve mentioned it on numerous occasions in my stories, but have yet to feature Eden as a main ‘character’, but I know its time will come.

When I’m in Cornwall, I make the most of soaking up every moment and never know when a place I visit, a new restaurant I try, or a snippet of overheard conversation will get the writing wheels moving.

Britnell’s new book, You’re The One That I Want, is available now. Don’t forget to enter the competition to win a copy of Celtic Love Knot!

ytotiw

Author’s Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

Cornish Reading Challenge: Phillipa Ashley talks about her Cornish inspiration – & win a copy of Summer at the Cornish Cafe!

New author photo favePhillipa Ashley writes warm, funny romantic fiction for a variety of international publishers. The first two books in her best-selling Cornish Café series made the Amazon Top 20 and Top 10 chart in 2016. The final novel, Confetti at the Cornish Café, is published on May 29th 2017.

Phillipa lives in a Staffordshire village with her husband and has a grown-up daughter. When she’s not writing, she loves walking, cycling and swimming in wild places like the Lake District and of course, Cornwall.

To say that Cornwall has been an inspiration for my work over the past 11 years is a bit of an understatement. I’ve now set seven novels either wholly or partly in this magical county, and I’m currently writing three more.

My latest series is a contemporary romantic saga about a group of quirky characters who run a cafe in Cornwall – they all have secrets to hide, pasts to escape, and big challenges to face. Funnily enough, the trilogy is called the Cornish Cafe series! On May 29th, the final book – Confetti at the Cornish Cafe – will be published by Avon.

It would take years for me to tell you what inspires me about this rugged, beautiful part of the world, but it’s probably the landscapes and seascapes – dramatic, wild, charming, and utterly captivating.

Here are a few of the places that have inspired me, and that feature in my books.

The Minack Theatre

Voted one of the world’s top outdoor performance venues by Lonely Planet, the Minack features in several scenes in past Cornish novels.

Minack night 2015

St Ives

This bustling fishing village with its buttery beaches and vibrant arts scene appears in a several and in the guise of St Trenyan in the Cornish Cafe series (crossed with Mousehole and Padstow!)

Godrevy

Miles of beach and sandy towns behind them, with a lighthouse at the headland. This is my favourite place to surf and bodyboard, and my characters love it too.

St Michael’s Mount

I love this medieval island castle so much that I wrote a whole book about a similar castle – Return to Castle Bay.

Botallack Mining Region

The craggy ruins of abandoned engine houses, clinging onto the cliffs above the Atlantic are a World Heritage site. They feature strongly in some dramatic scenes in the Cornish Cafe series.

I hope you find time to visit some of these wonderful places, and if you find your way to the Cornish Cafe series, I hope you enjoy spotting them.

DSCN0083

Win a copy of Summer at the Cornish Cafe!

I’m offering a signed copy of Summer at the Cornish Cafe to one person. All you have to do is email your name and address, and the answer to the following question, to thebandwagonreviews@gmail.com!

Which Irish actor plays Ross Poldark in the current BBC series of Poldark?

Confetti at the Cornish Cafe | Phillipa Ashley | @PhillipaAshley | Facebook | Instagram

Cornish Reading Challenge: Annalisa Crawford crosses the Tamar Bridge

There are two bridges across the River Tamar – for trains, the Royal Albert Bridge (known locally as the Brunel Bridge), and for vehicles, the Tamar Bridge. Before the Tamar Bridge was built in 1962, a ferry connected the two sides of the river.

dav

After moving to Saltash when I was 11, I’d only walked across the bridge three times – each time, holding tightly onto whoever I was walking with. I was/am scared of heights. However, as an adult, my buses to work were becoming more unreliable, and one day I made the decision to walk the bridge to catch a choice of services on the Plymouth side.

At the time, the cantilevers – one on each side, to provide a fourth traffic lane, and a dedicated pedestrian/cycle path – were new. And every time a heavy lorry drove past, the cantilever bounced. It was a horrible feeling, and took me months to get used to it.

dig

Gradually, I grew to love my daily jaunt, the freshness of the river helped to wake me up. In the middle of the winter, I’d occasionally witness glorious sunrises; and during the height of summer, it was a relaxing start to the working day, the river beneath deep blue, speckled with white sailing boats

The river itself has its distinct personality – glassy winter clarity or hazy mid-summer glow, grey and churning during storms, dull and heavy when the weather is overcast.

dav

Walking across the bridge on windy days were a battle, with gusts predominantly from the south pushing me into the path of cyclists and other walkers – the day I chose a denim maxi skirt was particularly memorable and challenging. If the wind was paired with rain or hail, I’d be soaked and exhausted, but strangely exhilarated. Once I gave in to the fact that my hood was never going to stay in place, I’d walk with my arms open and a grin on my face, relishing the elements.

My favourite days were those of thick fog, where both Saltash and Plymouth disappeared, and the river was a mere suggestion beneath my feet. In the right conditions, the sun shone but the bridge was completely enveloped in low cloud, a river mist that can linger for most of the morning. Walking into it feels like entering a fairy tale, a surreal and beautiful start to the day.

Sadly, I no longer walk across the bridge – I got a new job on my side of the Tamar. But, sometimes, when the weather is right, I walk across just for the fun of it.

dig

My third book, Our Beautiful Child, was set around this area, although I omitted the two bridges across the water and borrowed some features from nearby towns. I don’t know why; sometimes I wish I hadn’t.

Author Bio

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall, UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, a dog and a cat. Annalisa writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories. She has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years, and is the author of four books: Cat & The Dreamer, That Sadie Thing and other stories, Our Beautiful Child and You, I. Us. She won 3rd prize in the Costa Short Story Award, 2015. Find her on her website, Facebook and Twitter @annalisacrawf.

Cornish Reading Challenge: Adjusting my worldview by Vikki Patis

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.

13313575_10207549049138696_1667215307_o-768x519

Grave Oversight

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.

12049602_10207674483677322_4384247300890560743_n

Only If

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.

10406459_10203777613538004_2087034258495389898_n

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.

1376591_10152701872049778_885489113_n

Win A Copy of Weltanschauung!

I have a signed copy of Weltanschauung available to give away! Simply email your name and address to thebandwagonreviews@gmail.com.

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.

Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | @VikkiPatis

Weltanschauung

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.