Just a short, sharp shedpost (Is it called a shed anymore? I must check) about a project that I'm involved with that, with your help, will be published by Unbound.
Borrowed is a short story collection featuring contributions from Unbound authors Shona Kinsella, Ian Skewis, Claire Patel-Campbell, Lou Allison, Paul Holbrook, Elena Kaufman, Erinna Mettler and me.
ALL royalties from this book will all be donated to World Literacy Foundation.
The stories centre around a library in the fictitious town of Finlay on the Scottish borders. The anthology consists of:
The Ties That Bind – Harold doesn’t believe in ghosts, but something strange has been happening ever since he took over as Library Co-ordinator.
Remembering Miss Clare - Dorothy, an elderly woman with a dark secret, is interviewed about her enigmatic schoolteacher Miss Clare, by an abrasive journalist who will stop at nothing to get a sensational headline - can Dorothy keep her past where it belongs, or will it finally begin to catch up on her...?
A Different Corner – Roy invents systems to help him chose which book he’ll borrow - will it be learning or stories?
A Test for Lester Aldrich – They're giving the parents the test at the library. In some ways, Lester feels like the test is just for him. In some ways, his whole life has been a test.
Slightly Foxed – What happens when you invite one of the world’s most obsessive fact-checkers to be part of your pub quiz team?
Cast a Golden Shadow – Pavel is the happiest man in the world, and having the most perfect day ever; what could go wrong?
The Disappearance of Veronica Richter – A Scottish librarian is trapped in her favourite book, powerless to stop the brutal outcome while winged beings threaten the safety of her community
To See How Things Really Are – A young schoolgirl sees something she can't explain at the loch. Is she communing with the mythical otter kings or do the waters hold other secrets?
A Time to Remember – The death of a friend prompts memories of a long-lost love.
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As a teaser, here's a small part of my story Slightly Foxed:
The Forester’s Arms was one of only two pubs remaining in Finlay. Once there had been four; the first to go had become a convenience store and the other had been bought by a supermarket chain and was currently being converted into a second convenience store, much to the inconvenience of the first.
The Forester’s was full for the quiz night and the first thing that Nina noticed was that every member of the library team, bookishly calling themselves ‘Slightly Foxed’, was at least 20 years younger than the players who made up their rival teams. The pub was a sea of shining bald pates and blue rinses. Zimmer frames lined the walls like crowd-control barriers and there were more walking sticks on show than you could shake a walking stick at. Various smells vied for dominance above the warm fug of beer and fire smoke; a sweet, cloying smell that included hints of cabbage, embrocation, litter trays and damp flat-caps.
“This isn’t good,” said George, the library’s folklore expert. “This lot will know everything there is to know about soap operas. And shows like Bargain Hunt. They are the demographic that daytime TV was designed for. That’s why all the adverts are for incontinence pants, denture fixative and making wills.”
“Don’t be so negative, George. They may not be so good on other stuff like pop music or science,” said Nina. “Let’s see what comes up before you start with all the doom and gloom.”
The quizmaster was a jovial senior citizen with the kind of spectacles you daren't look at the sun through. He was dressed in a hand-knitted sweater which boasted the words ‘Quiz Master’ in different colours on the front. Unfortunately, due to the low light and a poor choice of wool colours, only the Q, U, I and M were really visible. His name, delightfully, was Peter Asking.
“Good evening, good evening, good evening!” he said enthusiastically, striding into the open space between the pub tables. “I’m Peter Asking, your quiz master for tonight, and I’ll be asking the questions. So who’s asking? It’s … Peter Asking!”
He said this as if it was some kind of catchphrase that his audience would all know and join in with.
They didn’t. And didn’t.
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