World of Writing
My new blog is about how different the culture in America is to the culture in the UK, and how we can look back at the history of both of our beautiful countries to provide us with an understanding of those differences.
Secret writing project
I am trying to keep this one as quiet as possible, so I admit that I am teasing you a little here! I will say though that I am working on the first in a collection of historical fiction novels, aimed at young adults. I am so excited about these books because they combine my love for history with my love for a good fantasy storyline and there are many exciting and mysterious twists along the way. I'll keep you posted!
A Poet's Legacy
"The words of the poem were read by the man as though they were his own, coming directly from his soul.
“Stay with me, God. The night is dark.”
His heart was warmed by the familiarity of the words, their tenderness and their truth.
“I am no coward, I love life.”
The poem expressed his inner most contradictions. It put into words the connection between the feelings of anxiety and feelings of peace, when facing death as he did every day."
This is an extract from the middle of my latest short story, A Poet's Legacy. It is based on a true story. My Granddad told me that he remembered a poem that he read during the war, word for word. He recited it to me and it struck a chord. I did some research and found that there is a whole community out there online that the same poem has affected in this way - passed down the generations. So, I found a newspaper cutting of the printing of the poem and I framed it for my Granddad for Christmas, and I also wrote this story for him. I have sent it around but it is currently unpublished.
Lilly and the Queen of Flowers, by Jo Macklin (short story)
"On a dull, grey day in May with the rain pouring down as usual, Lilly walked through the park near her house. The dark clouds in the sky reminded her of how much she wanted to leave England and go and live in another, more appealing country.
‘My parents are so selfish,’ she thought. ‘Why can’t they just do this one thing for me and move somewhere else. Anywhere other than this dull, wet country where there is nothing to do!’Lilly looked around at the grey and miserable park and noticed that there were barely any flowers blooming even though it was springtime. ‘Even the flippin’ flowers don’t want to be here,’ she declared........"
Just as she was about to shout out, a light pressure caressed her shoulder. She opened her eyes to find the tiny boom-voice man standing in front her. His head was tilted sideways with a sympathetic look on his compact face.“Are you alright there, Cariad?” he questioned. It was obvious that the only thing he was worried about was the long line being held up by this strange girl with her eyes closed........"
Amelia checks the water that has been put to boil over the fire. She sifts through the herbs and plants in her hand, breaking off several pieces and putting it into a cup. She pours the boiling water into her cup and uses a pestle to mix the herbs into the water. She then sits by the fire drinking her tea, staring at the flames as tears escape and slowly trail down her cheeks.
KNOCK AT THE DOOR
Amelia wipes the tears from her face and straightens her clothes out. She does not let go of the tea as she makes her way towards the door to see who it is. The door has a big wooden latch, that she lifts and the door creaks open.
Amelia: [coughing to clear the emotion that overcame her by the fire, then speaking in mono-tone with none of the excitement that the visitor expects] Mrs Hangley. What a lovely surprise. Can I help you with anything?
Mrs Hangley: Girl, how are you coping with the news, you must be devastated. I must admit, I never awfully liked your ghastly mother, but I am sure that the woman meant a lot to you! God knows, she must have meant something to some’un!
Mrs Hangley pushes through and walks straight in to the house, looking around as if she is trying to find something. Amelia faces an empty doorway, rolls her eyes and sarcastically mouths Jean’s previous words. She keeps the door open so as not to trap herself in the house with Jean.
Amelia: Mrs Hangley. I really must ask you to leave. I am really not feeling up to having visitors. You understand.
Amelia gently ushers Mrs Hangley towards the door with her body. Mrs Hangley protests, seemingly hurt by the gesturing, but still preoccupied with the inside of the house.
Amelia: But thank you so much for dropping by, I am sure that my mother would have appreciated your kindness, as she would much appreciate your respect for her wishes that you shall never again step foot inside this house. Good day to you!
Amelia waves politely as she slams the heavy door shut. With her back to it, she slides down the door to sit on the floor.
Mrs Hangley: [from behind the door, getting quieter as she descends down the path] You're too educated, that’s your problem! She thinks she’s all high and mighty because she’s read a book – well I never heard of such a thing – who does she think she is!
Amelia smiles with slight pleasure, then looks around the room at the complete mess ahead of her. Suddenly, there is another knock at the door.
Amelia: [as she stands up in a run of annoyance to open to door] Mrs Hangley, please leave me alone!
She opens the door to a lady who is not Mrs Hangley.
Aunt Isobel: Well I hope that you don’t open the door to everyone like that my love, or the business is in more trouble than I thought! [Pause] Well…aren’t you going to give your old aunt a hug?"
Cunning is set near Pendle, Lancashire in 1612. It is about a girl who has lost everything and is forced to take up her mother's business of being a Cunning Woman. It is a very dangerous career to be in, people are being hung everywhere just on the word of one person saying that they are practising witchcraft. Amelia didn't really pay much attention to her mother so is now going to have to learn everything from scratch - a mixture of her father's apothecary wisdom and knowledge of psychology and the natural world. She soon gets herself in to a situation in the town that could risk everything - including her life. I love every minute when I write this, because the history of this time is so wonderful and dramatic - but extremely hidden worldwide. Again, this has not been finished so please do pardon the extract as it has not been edited. I originally began with this as a script but I am considering transferring it into a novel in the future. It is a historical drama.
Retribution, by Jo Macklin (short story)
"Realising that I had quite got ahead of myself, I raised my eyes once more to the old man, but he had gone. After a second of confusion, I heard his voice – faint, but still distinctively his.
“Now is the time,” it said, drifting along a cool breeze that came from nowhere.
Shortly afterwards, I left that life....."
"It start when I thirteen, my breasts start to grow. I bleeding in normal way, not like when I fall down and cut skin. Mama say, “Dashi, now you will make us proud!”
She went to Komoru priest to see if Tumwi would start me on path to be woman. Tumwi is spirit in sky that see everything. My, my! It shined down on me that day! I was younger than other girls in tribe, but my family say that a good sign and I marry well......"
Being Woman is a story loosely based on the Mun Tribe (otherwise known as the Mursi people) of Ethiopia. I found the tribe fascinating and found that when researching them, I felt as though I could imagine being among them and feeling as they do about this issues that they face. I created my character Dashi from these feelings and really began to love her as the story went on. I wrote this story twice, the first is called "Being Woman" which is written in an off-English style, and the other is called "To be a Woman" which is written in grammatically correct English. I feel that the first has a truth to it, but the second describes her emotions much better, so I have never tried to choose between them. Instead I choose one or the other depending on which publication I am sending the story to. It is currently unpublished.
The Last Dance in the Moonlight, by Jo Macklin (short story)
"With her hand in front of her face, she clasped at the beautiful landscape, feeling the elaborate warmth from the moon serge through her fingers.As she reached for it, a piercing pain forced her arm to lurch back to her side. She returned it to its rightful place, attaching the torn piece of material to her wound. Looking down, the once soft and light coloured fabric that faithfully covered her sofa for so many years was now a crusty crimson brown, stained with the blood that she was desperately trying to keep inside of her......."