Last year I entered Nanowrimo for the first time (a competition to write a novel in a month) and this was the idea that resurfaced when I sat down at my computer. I have never written so fast and furiously in my life before. The story just poured onto the page.
I kept coming across gaps in my knowledge but followed Stephen King’s advice and just carried on writing, intending to deal with all that later. When I picked it up again a few weeks later and got down to seriously working on it I found I had to do a lot of research on the Second World War. I knew a fair bit already from reading and television documentaries, as well as from the experiences of my own parents, but I needed to know things like what branded goods they used, how the rationing system worked, etc.
I also realised, when one of my characters suddenly got completely out of hand and decided to return to India, that I was woefully ignorant of Indian culture. I knew some from reading, and I had studied a lot of Indian history at university, but I had no idea whether my knowledge would suffice for modern day India. The problem with something like that is you don’t know what it is you don’t know. I did not realise, for example, that a Hindu would be unlikely to understand Urdu. So I appealed on Twitter for experts on Hindu culture to read and correct it. I had four responses and checked all their comments with Google. Thank you, you wonderful people. You’ve saved me a lot of embarrassment. And thank God for Google. It’s saved me weeks of work.
My dear friend, Caroline, read the proofs when she was staying with me and suggested the idea for a cover. She painted the beautiful hands. They belong to her mother, Anne Ritson, to whom the book is dedicated. The photograph is of my own mother, May Thornton, who was a nurse at the end of the Second World War.
So, to a large extent, this book is the product of friendship.
Here are some of the things other authors have to say about it: “Jenny Twist is an enormously talented story-weaver who just goes on getting better. Fans of the wonderful novel, ‘Domingo’s Angel’ will not be disappointed with this latest offering from her. It’s a sweet and haunting feel-good story which will immerse you totally in its fictional world and leave you feeling deeply satisfied. Absolutely recommended.”Lynette Sofras
“All in the Mind will take you on a mind trip, one from which you won't want to return. As always, Jenny Twist's fiction is an addictive treat that's tightly woven to draw the readers in and keep them there.”Su Halfwerk
“This book moved me more than any other in recent memory, not because it was sad, although some scenes were very tragic, but because of the depth of emotion I felt for the characters, and the lasting love they share. . I dare anyone to read this book and not be moved to tears of joy.”
Tilly was dreaming.
It was VE Day and they were dancing in the streets. All the lights were lit. She kept looking at them, not quite believing it.
She was dancing with Johnny, her head against his chest, exhilarated by his closeness and the knowledge that the war was over.
It was so real, the dream. She could feel the rough fabric of his greatcoat against her cheek, smell its particular aroma of damp wool and tobacco.
She felt the dream slipping away and tried to hold on to it, but it escaped her grasp and shifted seamlessly into memory.
They had danced late into the night. Long after the gates to the nurses' home were locked. Eventually, exhausted and intoxicated with the euphoria of the crowd, they had walked back to the nurses' home and he had given her a leg up to climb the wall.
And as she sat at the top of the wall, one leg on each side, getting ready to swing over to the other side, he had grasped her by the ankle and said, “Will you marry me, Tilly? As soon as I'm demobbed.”
She looked down at his face, illuminated by the one street lamp in the lane, one lock of hair hanging over his forehead, his expression earnest and pleading.
She said the first thing that came into her head. “You're supposed to get down on one knee.”
“OK,” he said, with a grin, and dropped down on one knee. Did he know? Did he know then what her answer would be?
“Tilly”... he began in a loud, theatrical voice.
“No, get up,” she whispered urgently. “Someone might hear.”
“Who cares? What are they going to do – sack you?”
She smiled back at him in the lamplight. “You fool!”
And she pulled her leg out of his grasp and dropped gracefully down to the grass on the other side.
“Well?” His head appeared over the top of the wall. “Will you?”
“Yes,” she whispered back to him. Then she picked up the skirts of her uniform and ran across the lawn towards the darkened building.
As she ran, she heard someone whistling the Wedding March, the sound fading as he reached the end of the lane and turned into the street.
Tara Fox Hall and Jenny Twist launched their anthology of speculative fiction, Bedtime Shadows, on the 24th September. The book has already received high praise from other authors and is said to rival the short stories of M. R. James, Philip K Dick and even Stephen King.
The two writers became friends when they both contributed to the highly-acclaimed anthology, Spellbound 2011, issued by Melange Books in October last year.
“I was so proud to be in that anthology,” says Jenny, whose own anthology, Take One At Bedtime, was chosen as Editor's Pick when it came out in April of the same year. “I thought every single one of the stories in it was interesting and well-written and the authors were all such fun to work with.”
“I was excited to make the jump from short horror stories to longer works,” added Tara, whose flash fiction and short stories have appeared online at Deadman’s Tome, Flashes in the Dark, Ghastly Door, The Halloween Alliance, Black Petals, SNM Horror Magazine, Dark Eclipse, Cemetery Moon, The Copperfield Review, and Microhorror. “I’d just published my first paranormal romance e-novella, and was anxious to be in a print book. Spellbound 2011 introduced me to some wonderful authors, some of whom have become very good friends.”
The two writers could not have come from more different backgrounds. Jenny was born in England and worked at many different jobs including bacon-packer and escapologist's assistant before returning to full-time education at the age of 28 and doing 2 history degrees at Manchester and Oxford. Eleven years ago she retired to Spain. “I feel like I'm finally getting on with my real life,” she says. “I always wanted to write and now I'm finally doing it!”
Tara was born in the United States, earned her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics with a double minor in science at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and is currently an OSHA-certified safety and health inspector at a metal fabrication shop. In addition to speculative fiction, Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, action-adventure, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal action-adventure Lash series and the vampire romantic suspense Promise Me series. “I love that my stories resonate with people,” she says. “That they can lose themselves in my stories means I’ve done my job.”
“We chose Bedtime Shadows as the title,” Jenny says, “to reflect my anthology, Take One At Bedtime and Tara's Just Shadows. We are very proud to have an introduction by the illustrious horror writer, T. Fox Dunham (no relation to Tara) and we have been very lucky to have some excellent authors give us advance reviews."
The book is a mixture of horror, speculative fiction and romance – stories of ghosts and vampires, future dystopias, travel through different dimensions, a holiday romance that changes everything, and a new twist on an ancient myth.
Here is what other authors have to say about it.
“I recommend this collection without any reservations” - Herbert Grosshans.
“Together these two authors will strap you to your chair and lock your attention to the magic they weave.” - Su Halfwerk
“They know how to write stories that entertain and involve their readers. Someday I think we may identify them with authors like Shirley Jackson, Stephen King and HP Lovecraft.” - John Mecom
“This literary progeny of authors Jenny Twist and Tara Fox Hall was a joy to read for a couple of reasons. There’s a nice variety of stories ranging from dramatic to speculative to downright gruesome.” - Mysti Parker
"Daily-living captured and stylistically rendered with a 'twist' of macabre lurking behind each provocative tale...BEDTIME SHADOWS delivers a punch -- watch out for the unexpected."
~ Douglas Wickard
The Man With No Face– Jenny Twist
All her life Deborah has been haunted by the memory of a couple locked in a deadly embrace. She thinks the woman may be the mother that abandoned her but she cannot see the man's face. Who is he?
All That Remains – Tara Fox Hall
This thrilling sequel to The Origin of Fear (Spellbound 2011) takes us back to Latham's Landing. Will Tina and Sandra survive their encounter with the ghosts that inhabit the haunted isle?
The Children of Hope – Jenny Twist
It is 1963 and Ginny is unmarried and pregnant. Her parents consign her to one of the infamous Mother and Baby Homes which are little more than prisons and workhouses. Will she be able to escape before they come to take her baby away?
The Bull-Dancer – Jenny Twist
The twelve chosen bull-dancers are sailing out of the harbour under a black sail, bound for Crete and the deadly Minotaur, while a mother looks on in anger.
Take the Chance– Tara Fox Hall
A young girl growing up in post-apocalyptic America is determined that she and her sister will survive – whatever it takes!
A Victorian Dolls' House– Jenny Twist
When Violet sees the dolls' house in the antique shop she has to have it. But the Delacorte House is no ordinary dolls' house – and it is definitely not a toy!
Heart's Bells– Tara Fox Hall
Theo and Casey are in love, but so many things stand in their way. They suffer separation and heartbreak but still remain true – until something happens to Theo that changes everything.
Doppelganger– Jenny Twis
When Christine wakes up in a sumptuous white room with silken hangings, she assumes she is in heaven. But she soon finds out she is not in heaven. And before too long she begins to wonder if she is even still Christine.
Voices– Jenny Twis
Olivia and Aidan are telepathic twins. Olivia is used to hearing Aidan in her head, but she is terrified when she hears a new and sinister voice.
Return to Me – Tara Fox Hall
Determined to find the source of the nightly creaking she alone can hear, Sam Reading discovers Harrison Benning, a ghost who becomes corporeal for one night of the year; the summer solstice. Their warm friendship soon becomes powerful love that lasts through decades, tragedies, and even beyond death.
Catch Me If You Can– Jenny Twis
Willy prowls the streets at night, listening to all the sounds of the old town. But does he have a more sinister purpose?
Shades of Grey– Tara Fox Hall
Throughout history there has always been a Seer making sure that the world follows its proper course, keeping the world in balance. Yet when the old Seer prepares to hand over the burden to his apprentice Tim, he realizes too late that Tim has his own ideas of how things should go
BEDTIME SHADOWS will be released by Melange Books in September 2012
Tara Fox Hall
Tara's Blog: http://www.goodreads.com/author/sho...a_Fox_Hall/blog
Tara's Facebook Page:
For info on my recently published work, Lash, click here: http://www.amazon.com/Lash-ebook/dp/B007UJ6KGC
For info on my recently published work, Just Shadows, click here: http://www.amazon.com/Just-Shadows-...k/dp/B006V4HB2Y