So after a distinctly long and reflective break, during which I have been hiding away like a grizzly bear and grumpily tapping away at my keyboard and drinking copious amounts of Lapsang Souchong, I have returned!
I have returned with a great deal of excitement to rant enthusiastically about my Ebook that is about to be published by the wonderful Mardibooks, who have been exceptionally supportive in the process. The piece of writing that is about-to-be-an-Ebook is called ‘Ella Out Of Shape’. It is a narrative poem that follows the relationship between a sister (Ella) and brother (who we know only by his nickname, Bumbo) as they grow from young children into teenagers and adults, dealing with the various expectations of becoming a man or a woman, and what this might mean for the way they view each other.
Writing this piece has been what can only be described as catastrophically excellent. I went from writing something that was quite abstract, dense and difficult, to something that I’m now proud to think of as quite human. So we follow the lives of the two youngsters as they grow up in the city, struggling under the shadow of their distant mother, and with no mention of a father.
Now I work with teenagers, and watching them grow and change from the outside is actually quite hilarious. Teenagers are the most interesting, bizarre, melodramatic, egotistical, imaginative, hyperbolic, shy and intense people I have met and there is never a dull day with them. In fact, quite frequently, I think I have considered every possible variable in my classroom, and then a kid will come out with something so out there that I am genuinely lost for words, (and that is saying something!)
It was important for me to get some of this ridiculousness across in the story, whilst also dealing with the genuine issues of growing up. Ella and her brother are close, but growing up means different things for boys and girls and it’s hard to maintain an innocent friendship because of this. I tried to show this early on in the piece. Here is a little extract for a taster:
My Strength Comes From You, Brother
Ella’s feet hurt.
She tells her brother.
My feet hurt.
And he ignores her.
Today, he entered that shadow space
between child and grown man.
He wears a tie to school, with ten
stripes, one less
than his many years, his shoes
shine, his hair cut and combed
and his mother left him
the responsibility of picking up
his baby sister.
But the other boys have thistles
in their heels, they run
like they are being chased
by the north wind, and hounded
into adulthood by snapping teeth.
He hears her whine, sees her slowing,
but doesn’t want to miss the others.
Ella’s little legs falter, her hand slips
from his. He’s bored now, like
his mother, takes on her bothered
tone, the fatigued O-shape
Come on, Ella!
He is eleven now, sprouting
like a weed out of the confines
of boyhood, he can’t be doing
with a baby sister, feet full of splinters.
The school gates are open
and it is his job to hit the streets
with as much noise as his half-developed
lungs can muster.
But Ella’s little body flusters.
My feet hurt, Bumbo.
He hushes her, sharp like, a hiss
of teeth and tongue.
They’ll hear you!
He’s decided this; she can’t
call him that now, that name
was for a boy a long time ago,
you don’t call a grown man, Bumbo.
The book will be out soon and available on Amazom.co.uk and on the Mardibooks website. Please keep an eye out and get hold of it! And meanwhile, enjoy the artwork included for the front cover, courtesy of the very talented Ms Isobel Power Smith (www.Isobelpowersmith.com).