Thievery: Amelia Magdalene
This month I’m doing a mentoring special to celebrate all the talented and diverse writers I’ve been lucky enough to work with through WoMentoring. First up is Heather Parry – and trust me, you’ll be seeing her name much more in the future.
It was a blessing when my blood came. At school they said it would be spots and strings but to my surprise it was a steady stream, dark red, pouring out from the corners of my eyes and puddling on the tops of my battered brogues. I held back a retch and when the urge to faint passed, I shouted for Daddy, excited, from the top of the stairs. Squinting into the light from the landing, he said: God bless us, Joyce, it’s a miracle. My mother, hunched over like she’d been screwed up and thrown away, strained to look up at me and screamed. As she fled back to her overcooked potatoes, Daddy took the crusty hanky from his back pocket and wiped the blood across my nose and cheeks, making more of a mess than there was before. He shoved the hanky into my hand. Grinning, grateful, I took in the acrid smell and pocketed the soaked cotton. As Daddy strode into the kitchen, I heard his giddy voice rise:
Hospital? She needs an agent, not a hospital.
There were to be no doctors. Daddy’s word was always final, not because he was the stronger of the two, but the weaker. My mother’s twisted spine—she’d been that way all my life—brought disability benefit into the house and gave her a quiet dignity; Daddy’s consistent inability to find work, despite trying, only made him more pathetic. Yet he ruled with a ceaseless sense of enthusiasm that nobody could bear to wrench from him. My first thought when I looked into the mirror and saw two trickles of scarlet running from my eyes had been Daddy is going to love this.
That night, he watched me over dinner, wads of old tea towels taped to my cheeks so the blood wouldn’t drip onto my eggs. My mother fretted over the creeping red cracks in the whites of my eyes but Daddy just stared. Sometimes he smiled, and sometimes I smiled back.
This year I read 250 books. 250! No idea how that happened. I did travel a lot for book events and festivals, which meant many hours on trains and evenings in hotel rooms. I get sent a lot of books for review and blurbs. I volunteer in an Oxfam Books and usually buy at least one book per shift. I love the library – I’m a member of four, and my local library now refers to me as a “heavy user”. Also, my job is reading and writing books, and I really fucking like books.
Here is a highly personal, not-very-scientifically-chosen list of my 50 favourites of 2016.
Want to read something water-themed on your summer holiday but still stick to your creepy, fabulist, witchy-dark bones? You’ve come to the right place.
I’ve somehow managed to read 133 books so far this year (how did that happen? I don’t even know). Luckily for me, some of them have been seriously amazing. Here are the best ones of April and May:
January and February are always big reading months for me. Blame the terrible weather and general post-festive blah, but all I want to do is escape into new worlds. For 2016, I decided to branch out and try new genres. So far I’ve read literary fiction, children’s novels, romance, horror, magical realism, nature non-fiction, memoir and essays. Here are my favourites of the year so far: