Monday, 27 April 2015

The Stench Of Winter

My short story, "The Stench Of Winter", has just been published online in the inaugural issue of Shirley magazine and as usual I'm blogging a few comments as to how the story developed. Be aware there may be spoilers for those yet to read the work.

A few years ago I was aware of a news item about a girl's body that had been found on the Queen's Sandringham estate. I can't recall the exact details, but I certainly remember that the way it was reported seemed to suggest that because she appeared to be Eastern European then it didn't really matter. I'm sure this wasn't the intention in the article, but there was a sniff of it there. For me, it seemed all the more tragic because of this.

I began to wonder who would care to investigate a death if the authorities didn't. The opening to the story puts it quite succinctly:

The body was found at the edge of the woods in a shallow grave littered with the wetness of mulched leaves and a solitary crisp packet.

It had been there some time. Perhaps six months. It could be this girl. Or it could be that girl. They said. It could have been any girl. The newspapers thought it didn't matter because she was blonde and probably foreign and could be any one of a half-dozen blonde, missing, foreign girls.

But it did matter. It mattered to the girl.

And if no one else was interested, then she had to be.

I wanted a delicate balance in the story, for the girl to investigate her own death but through the veil of past and present, a remembering of her being trafficked to the UK as a sex worker, but also warm memories of her family and Christmastime. And I also wanted her experience to be fragmented. Whilst she might be considered a ghost it isn't the case that anyone can see her, she can't affect anything, the baddies don't get their comeuppance and they remain unaware of her continued existence. Tragic as that might be, I thought that approach to be more realistic than a standard vengeance story. Real life (and death) just don't have happy endings.

The story can be read in its entirety here. Please comment if you've read and enjoyed it.

Shirley magazine also contains stories by Kai Maristed and Clyde Liffey.

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