Lantern Evening – my novella Published by Gatehouse Press

“The presence of the baby had changed things. It had cleared Ria’s mind. Old fears had disappeared… The old voices in her had faded. Ria felt the peace of their absence. She wanted only to prolong the quiet, to allow this strange easy distancing from her life before…  A whole other world had sprung into being inside her. That was enough for now. A world begun from the time of that first scan and seeing the baby swimming inside her, its thin legs kicking furiously, then a moment later floating on its back, its tiny tongue shooting out to lick the placenta –

‘It’s finding ways to amuse itself,” the consultant had told her and Rob. “You have a little character in there!’

The doctor had laughed with a gentle affectionate pleasure in their creation. Could happiness really be so unwilled? So accidental?

Rob, inexplicably, was in tears and smiling blissfully and she too had welled with a fearful excitement. She had clutched Rob’s hand while he kissed her and decided in that instant to ride this new challenge and to enjoy it the way she imagined other women did. She would rid herself of regrets, the longing for a life missed, thwarted and the fury in her at being denied– all this she let sink down in her without remedy. Perhaps it had passed out dissolved in urine, the new urine, with the baby’s mixed in with hers. She had expelled it from her and she was revived and pure; new for the baby.”

…an extract from LANTERN EVENING.

Winner Gatehouse Press new Fictions Prize 2016. Buy it here!

Procrastination… and a little help from Tove Jansson

Finally Jonna got busy. She built up her great unassailable barricade against work, against the agony of work. … she began shaping exquisite small objects of wood… she walked the shoreline gathering unusual kinds of driftwood, odd shapes that might give her an idea. She arranged it all on her workbench in symmetrical piles, smaller ones, larger ones, and every piece of sea-polished wood had its own special potential to keep her from making pictures.

From Catfishing in Fair Play by Tove Jansson

a novel too seems to bring out the most intricate distractions: Facebook, blogging, reading articles about… well, everything and then, discovered in my aimless wanderings around the flat, a short story about someone putting off working. But not just any story. Wonderful, thoughtful, deep, playful, exquisitely written….. at least I’m now back at my desk. Thank you Tove Jansson!

 “Your uncle liked making nets [said Jonna]; it was what he knew, it was calming and familiar… He was… at peace, doing work that was his and only his… He didn’t have goals anymore.”

“To hell with goals,” Mari said. “What I’m talking about is desire, about having to.”

“Having to what?”

“I think you know.”

“And then what? Those pictures… They drown and get lost among millions of other pictures. And most of them are completely unnecessary – and what’s more, pretentious.” Jonna added a little more quietly, “I mean other people’s. Most of them.”

The storm came nearer, a huge alien backdrop making its steady way across the water, never before seen in such splendour and maybe never to be repeated.

“Take care of the boat,” Jonna shouted, jumping ashore. She ran up to the cottage.

From Catfishing in Fair Play by Tove Jansson