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.

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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: 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!

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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.

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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: A note on giveaways

I hope you’re all enjoying the Cornish Reading Challenge 2017! We’ve already announced a few giveaways, and we’re only halfway through! We’re got loads more coming your way, so I just wanted to share a quick note on the policy here at The Bandwagon.

If you enter, either via email or the submission forms through the blog, you will receive an email confirming your entry. Winners for all competitions will be announced after the 27th of May 2017, once the challenge has finished. Only the winners will be contacted.

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The best part is, if you enter one competition but don’t win, you’ll automatically be put in the running for our other competitions! Almost everyone is a winner at The Bandwagon. (If you don’t wish to be entered for any of our other competitions, please state this in your entry. If you’ve already entered but weren’t aware, please pop me an email at thebandwagonreviews@gmail.com.)

Oh, and it goes without saying that your addresses will not be retained after the competitions close, and will not be used for anything else.

And that’s it! We’ve got just over a week left of the Cornish Reading Challenge, and lots of exciting posts coming your way. What are you reading this year? Let us know in the comments below, or @VikkiPatis on Twitter, using #CornishReadingChallenge.

Cornish Reading Challenge: Sharon Tregenza shares her Cornish poetry

 

Pasties and cream!

Pasties and cream!

My new pair of jeans has just burst at the seam!

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The Cornish Reading Challenge is all about fun. Choose a book (or two!), and get lost in a world of sweeping landscapes; a world in equal parts beautiful and harsh. Cornish author Sharon Tregenza has shared some poems with us in honour of this challenge. Read and enjoy!

SEAGULL

I fed a giant seagull.

A fatly-feathered chap.

He flew over my window-

and said his thank you’s.

SPLAT!

 

ST MICHAEL’S MOUNT

We

couldn’t

walk to the

Mount, on account,

of the tide wasn’t out.

 

ROCKPOOLS

Treasure filled rock pools

of emerald and ruby

anenome studded and musseled

within.

 

Anxious small bodies

salt prone on black boulders,

waiting for bull-cat with baited

bent pin.

 

Water washed shingle

sieved fine through small fingers,

pebble sea dashed and sucked clean

by the sea.

 

Trawlermen salty

and sequined with fish-scales

watching white surf sugar coating

the quay.

You can read more about Sharon and her work here.

Cornish Reading Challenge: Win a copy of Celtic Love Knot by Angela Britnell

Want to win a copy of Celtic Love Knot by Angela Britnell? Read on to find out how!

Can two tangled lives make a love knot?

Lanyon Tremayne is the outcast of his small Cornish village of St. Agnes. Susceptible to fits of temper and with a chequered past behind him, he could even be described as a bit of an ogre. But nobody knows the painful secret he hides.

Olivia Harding has learnt a thing or two about ogres. She’s a professor from Tennessee, specialising in Celtic mythology and has come to St. Agnes to research the legend of a Cornish giant – and to lay to rest a couple of painful secrets of her own.

But when Olivia meets the ruggedly handsome Lanyon, her trip to Cornwall looks set to become even more interesting. Will she get through to the man beneath the bad-tempered façade, or is Lanyon fated to be the ‘ogre’ of St. Agnes forever?

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To be in with a chance to win this wonderful ebook, simply email thebandwagonreviews@gmail.com.

This competition closes on 27/05/17. The winner will be contacted within 7 working days of the closing date.

Amazon UK | Goodreads

Cornish Reading Challenge: Liz Fenwick’s Recommendations

Author Liz Fenwick shares her recommendations for the Cornish Reading Challenge 2017.

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Liz Fenwick signing at Truro Waterstones | Copyright: Jules Mortimer. Reproduced here with permission.

There have been some wonderful new books set in Cornwall. Each of them brings out a different aspect of the delectable Duchy. So without further delay here’s a small selection of my most recent favourites.

The Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this book filled with keen human insight and magic realism which somehow touches the essence of Cornwall at its core. Towards the end of the book I could no longer hold back and was underlining in pencil sentences that were so…exquisite. Warning…as there is much magic realism in this book it will not be to everyone’s tastes.

The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan. Beautiful, authentic, compelling. I loved it.

In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings. Dark, gripping emotional… a fab read filled with a sense of dread.

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The Swordfish and The Star by Gavin Knight. This social history explores Cornwall and the coast from the point of view of those fishing it, painting and farming it but mostly fishing it. I loved the insight and it’s a book that I will read again.

Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place by Philip Marden. A non-fiction look at why we react so strongly to the land. Marsden looks at the mystic like pull of the landscape and our response to it. I know I react so strongly to the landscape in Cornwall, it’s my muse after all, but it’s was fascinating to look at it from a more ‘academic’ approach.

I could keep listing books…for pure escapism try Phillipa Ashley’s Cornish series, or Jill Mansell’s The Unpredictable Consequences of Love, or for a historical twist Victoria Cornwall’s The Thief’s Daughter.

Which books will you choose for the challenge this year?

Don’t forget to enter the competition to win a copy of The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick! Full details can be found here.