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About the author:
I live in London, one of the most dynamic cities in the world and a location famous across the world. I use it all the time in my books and I love it.
What inspired you to write your book?
London June 2013
Here is a short sample from the book:
“Are there new people at The Pines, Marjorie?”
“Yes Francis. But I have only seen the removal vans arrive. No one has actually moved in yet.”
“It will be exciting to see what they are like though, won’t it?”
“Yes it will Francis.”
”We must make them feel very welcome, mustn’t we?”
“We mustn’t make the same mistake again, must we Marjorie?”
“No. About that I have been clear all along. That sad incident is one that we must put behind us now Francis. We have to look to the future. We must focus our energy on doing all we can to improve the lives of those around us.”
“Yes. Doing good is what we do best, isn’t it?”
“Yes Francis. It is.”
“Well, have they arrived yet?”
“No, not yet Anita.”
“Then they are close. Very close.”
“I spoke to Ken at the estate agents and he said-”
“There is nothing about these people that you can tell me that I do not already know Marjorie. I have seen it all in the cards. I am not afraid of anything or anyone and the cards are not afraid to tell me the truth in return. There is nothing special about these people Marjorie.”
“And that is just the way we want it after last time.”
“Last time I told you what was coming and you and that reincarnated mouse Francis took no notice. Only Dorothy listened.”
“That is not fair Anita.”
“Neither is what happened. When I think of what we should have done I feel shamed by the Gods I do.”
“I will say this to you as I said it to Francis: we must focus our energy into improving the lives of those around us and look to the future.”
“I have looked to the future Marjorie and it is unclear. The cards are not people; the cards do not lie and cheat and betray like people do. And how you can take any notice of Francis is beyond me. Without her gift she would just be one of the rank and file and not one of the core.”
“But she has the gift and she is one of my core.”
“Yes. And I have often wondered how deep your friendship is.”
“Anita Ryker-Lovell! How dare you. I am a happily married woman.”
”So was I once. I do not call him the bastard for nothing.”
“Quite frankly, I am surprised that you of all people did not see that coming!”
“Ah Marjorie, you are so middle class.”
“And I think you play a little too hard at being the bohemian Anita.”
“But I am not playing Marjorie. This is me. What you see is what you get. I do not care what people think.”
“Well I do. You can be very wicked sometimes. And for your information I am not a-”
“I know Marjorie. I know.”
“Yes, of course you do. I’ll call you back when they arrive.”
“It will be soon.”
“Hello Dorothy. How are you?”
“I am fine darling. Any news on The Pines?”
“Well the removal vans have been and gone but no sign of the family yet.”
“Is it a family then?”
“I believe so yes. That is what Ken at the estate agents told me.”
“What does Anita have to say on the subject?”
“Too much as usual. I have just spoken to her and within five minutes she accused me of having lesbian tendencies and being, how did she put it, oh yes ‘so middle class.’”
“Oh darling. Well one out of two isn’t bad for someone of Anita’s talents!”
“Oh don’t you start as well Dorothy. I’ve had just about as much as I can take today.”
“Do not let negative thoughts cloud your focus Marjorie darling.”
“That is easier said than done. Anyway, Anita also said that the cards were unclear and I do not like the sound of that one bit.”
“Yes. Although whether she was playing for effect I couldn’t tell. She does tend to go in for the dramatic so perhaps we will find out more this evening at the Esbat.”
“Indeed. Interesting times ahead then darling?”
“Let’s hope not Dorothy. There is too much coming up for the Samhain and there must be no loose ends.”
“No of course not darling. We will talk about it later. I am looking forward to meeting the family though.”
“Oh yes me too.”
The family in question was currently just a few miles from their new home.
Karen and John Harwood and their fifteen year old son Jake were sitting in silence in the large estate vehicle that John was navigating down the wide avenues of the suburb where they would soon be living.
Jake was slumped on the back seat, music from his IPod playing through headphones wedged into his ears. He took in his surroundings with the casual ambivalence expected of someone his age; a boy on the cusp of adulthood for whom life was still so much of a mystery. He looked at the back of his parents’ heads and saw that they were looking dead ahead out of the windscreen and never at each other and he did not understand why it had been like this lately.
From somewhere in his memory he recalled images in which his Mother and Father had been what he would term ‘happy.’ There was an easiness, familiarity and affection between them. But now when he took the time to analyse their behaviour towards each other which admittedly was not often, he got the impression that something was not right. He could not put his finger on it and of course he knew nothing about the intricacies of a relationship as infinitesimally complex as marriage but he certainly sensed something uncomfortable about their body language.
And if there was one skill that Jake had developed in his teens that would stay with him for the rest of his life it was his innate power of observation. He noticed things that many others would or could not. Although this gift was still in its nascent stages he could still, most of the time, see the patterns and the symmetry in the random and the chaotic and whilst much of this confused him now, later it would allow him to see the world with an almost blinding clarity.
He watched as his Mother played with her wedding ring, rolling it around her finger as if it was suddenly unfamiliar to her. She glanced up at the rear view mirror and saw his pale blue eyes and then she smiled. It was a smile that was perhaps just one or two degrees off reassurance; a brittle smile that did not have the emotional strength to reach her eyes.
“We are almost there now Jake.” She said.
Jake frowned and popped out one of his headphones. “What?”
“We are almost there now.” His Mother repeated.
“Oh.” Jake replied.
“You could be a bit more excited than that Jake.” His Father said with a note of disappointment. “It’s a much bigger house you know.”
Jake shrugged. “I liked the old house.” He said simply and plugged his headphone back in. He saw the strain on his Mother’s face and looked out of the window.
“Are you alright?” John asked, glancing at his wife. “You’ve been a bit quiet.”
The truth was that the two of them had sat in silence for the majority of the drive. “I’m fine.” She said, continuing to absentmindedly twist her wedding band.
John put his hand on her leg. “Look,” he said, gently stroking her thigh, “things will be better here I promise. This is going to be a new start for us.”
Karen patted his hand, and momentarily felt the thrill of what used to be. “I know and I am excited really.” She replied, willing herself to believe it.
“Hey, here we are!” John exclaimed, as the car turned a corner and passed a sign that declared proudly:
‘Welcome To Oak Dale’
Karen glanced in the rear view mirror. “Look Jake.” She said with as much genuine enthusiasm as she could muster. “We are here.”
Jake nodded, unplugged his headphones and stuck his head between the front seats and looked out of the windscreen.
His Father had been right about one thing; the houses here were much bigger than where they used to live. Each one was individually designed and sat on a large plot with sweeping front lawns and driveways. Some of them even had entrance gates. The eclectic mix of property was pleasing to the eye and represented domestic architecture from the modern to the classical to the traditional in style and appearance.
The road was lined with trees on which the leaves were turning brown in the crisp late September weather. The sky had been grey and damp and overcast but as the car pulled into the driveway of a house signposted as The Pines the sun broke through for a moment welcoming the Harwood’s with a flare of orange light. The light seemed to illuminate the front windows of the house as if the building was warming up inside to envelop them.
The Pines was a big solid handsome brick building with a boundary made from huge Corsican pine trees after which it had been named. It was a modern house built to emulate an older more traditional style and although it was large its proportions gave it a friendly and homely appearance.
Jake got out of the car and looked at the house and somehow felt reassured. His Mother and Father were already at the front door. His Father said something that made his Mother laugh out loud, and Jake could not remember the last time he had heard her laugh with genuine joy. He stood on the driveway and opened the boot of the estate.
“Come on Jake.” His Mother called after him. “Don’t you want to come inside and sort out your room?”
“I want to get my bag.” Jake replied, grabbing his rucksack from amongst the boxes of food and the suitcases containing items too personal and precious to be trusted to the removal firm. “I’m coming.” He said and slammed the boot lid shut. Standing alone on the gravel driveway, he turned to face the road and the houses opposite his.
He saw a woman at a window, for the briefest of moments before she was gone. Gone, Jake would recall later, in the blink of an eye.
Suddenly he had a moment of uneasiness that rushed through him and tainted his aura of reassurance. He shook it off.
He ran to join his parents at the front door. His Father had the key in his hand.
“OK everyone.” He said. “Here we go. One, two, three!” Jake could see that his parents were really smiling at each other now. They put their arms around him and he felt safe and secure in their embrace.
John looked at his wife and winked at her. Karen nodded. He put the key in the door and turned it.
The front door clicked open.
And in they walked.
The new family at The Pines.