Thievery: The Beach Hut
On Thursdays, I invite my favourite writers to share the inspirations behind their work. Here’s one from the ever-lovely Cassandra Parkin.
Once, a brother and sister lived with their mother and father. The sister was older than the brother and she had long hair that he loved to twirl his fingers in, and for a long time she was taller than him (and even when he finally overtook her, in his head she was still always in charge).
One day, someone asked the little brother, What do you want to do when you grow up? And he replied, I’m going to live in a little house by the ocean. Just one room for me and my big sister, and we’ll wake up every morning and look out at the beach and just be all by ourselves.
But you have to have a job, the person told him. (It doesn’t matter who the person was. Every story has some people in it who are unimportant. But just so they don’t feel bad, let’s say this person was a lady called Elinor, and she had a big house and servants and seventeen cats, and she always wore a turban in the afternoons and liked to take naps on a beautiful gold brocade chaise-longue.)
I’ll write books, said the little brother.
And what about your big sister?
On Thursdays, I invite my favourite writers to share the inspirations behind their work. Here’s one from spook-master Joel Farrelly.
“She started working for the Weiser security firm after leaving the sheriff’s office, where Ellen had spent almost nine years running intake at the local jail. Recent politics had led to an overhaul in the jail’s management and she’d decided to leave as well. The new higher-ups had been making a lot of cutbacks to the number of officers per shift and the irony was that Ellen quit because she no longer felt safe doing her job.
So she took a position with Weiser and her first assignment had been overnight guard duty at a local medical testing facility. It was pretty routine stuff. Ellen spent most of her time seated at a desk, watching camera monitors and listening to the radio. Every two hours, either she or the other guard on duty would walk the facility’s three floors and make sure there weren’t any animal rights activists trying to break in to free all the lab rats or whatever.
One night the other guard, Rodney, came back from walking his rounds looking a bit flustered. He told Ellen that he kept hearing this weird knocking sound up on the third floor, which was mostly off-limits even to security unless they had proper authorization. Otherwise, they were just supposed to do a quick sweep of the circular hallway leading from the elevators to the secure access door and then back.
“You want me to call Jerry and request clearance to check it out?” Ellen asked, reaching for a phone on the security desk.
Rodney shook his head and said, “No. It’s probably nothing. Maybe old pipes; I don’t know. It was weird, though… It sounded like it was following me.””
On Thursdays, I invite my favourite writers to share the inspirations behind their work. Here’s one from the enviably badass Sophie Mackintosh.
“Just handling the matches – just the eye-watering thought of the brightness as it fizzes upwards, the smell sharp in my nostrils – makes me hungry for light. And then I am searching wildly for something to create it, my hands running over every surface of the room, hip thudding dully against my chest of drawers – there must be something I think wildly, anything –
My hands fall upon a nail file. I scrape it against the iron bedstead as though whetting a knife, again and again, and see a dull spark. The noise runs through my teeth, but I carry on. Flickers hint through the darkness, tiny scraps, curls of shaved foil –
More. More. My hands search, restlessly, again, find a hairbrush, and I lurch as though drunk over to where I know the mirror is and I put my palms against the metal and brush my hair over and over and over until the fine strands buzz and stand up and threads of electric run up and down the length of it, my hair clinging to the nape of my neck, to my hands – when I lift them up over my head I see the pinpricks of light at the crown of my head, but it’s not enough, it’s never enough, but it’s something –
Breathe. Madame’s face swims in front of my eyes, and I picture being chained up outside through the iciness of the Arctic night. Oh, she would be so disappointed in me if she knew, quietly damning. You of all people.”
On Thursdays, I invite my favourite writers to share the inspirations behind their work. This week it’s a special bonus post, as we have four (count ‘em, FOUR!) writers talking about their inspiration behind the brand-shiny-new anthology, Poor Souls’ Light.
“She – Maggie, that is – comes in from the field. She rinses her hands at the sink and without removing her muddy shoes nor taking off her coat, sits at the table and stares at the steaming cup waiting for her. It’s as if she’s never seen it before: her trembling fingers hover over her lips until the tea is quite cold. She sweeps it onto the floor. The cup shatters and tea runs along the tiles.
Now she goes out, picking her way across the overgrown garden, over the broken fence at the far end, and off, into the musty field where the pylons are and the wild hares run and fight and fuck.
Maggie has not been herself lately. She spends hours walking aimlessly in the field, picking up broken and jagged pieces of rock: the remnants of a dry stone wall long since dissolved and returned to the elements. She brings them back to the garden. She will not explain why. She barely eats, has not washed in days and is changing her clothes only rarely. While she does not seem to enjoy staying in the cottage, she does not appear to want to be out of sight of it.She always stays in view of one of the windows, either in the garden, or the field, or pacing up and down the misty lane. As if she is looking for something. Today she gathers stones for several hours. When she returns it is dark and there’s a fresh cup of tea waiting for her. She ignores it completely, and climbs the stairs, slamming the doors. She smells of soil but then again, so do I.”
(From Jenn Ashworth’s ‘Dinner For One’)
On Thursdays, I invite my favourite writers to share the inspirations behind their work. Here’s one from complex and compelling novelist Tammy Cohen (better known as Tamar Cohen).
“Chances are, by the time you finish reading this, I’ll already be dead.
Three interesting things about me. Well, I’m twenty-nine years old, I’m phobic about buttons. Oh yes, and I’m dying. Not as in I’ve got two years to live, but hey, here’s a list of things I want to cram into the time I have left. No, I’m dying right here and now.
In a sense, you are reading a snuff book.
So, why did I go along with it? That’s a tricky one, that question of motivation. Maybe it’s because I was caught up in the Christmas spirit and feeling kindly disposed. He told me I was beautiful.
Also, it didn’t hurt that he was handsome. He looked a bit like that guy from Silver Linings Playbook, the one who always plays nut jobs. Maybe that should have given me a bit of a clue.
Oh well, you live and learn.
Except in my case only one of those is true.”