Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll
stevie_carroll

The Woman Who Hatched a Fairy’s Egg

The first of the novellas in my collection, 'The Woman Who Hatched a Fairy’s Egg' is set in and around the small Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge. Famous in past centuries for weaving and the wool trade, it's now known for writers, artists and lesbians. The writers were definitely there when I was at school in Sheffield, and the artists and lesbians were well established a few years later when I stayed overnight for a job interview.

In my story, Cynthia has moved to the town from London, after inheriting the house that once belonged to her partner's grandmother. After several years of travelling, Cynthia wants to settle down, to indulge her artistic talents, and to help other people find muses of their own. She doesn't expect to find that the area's non-human inhabitants also have an interest in the house, but fortunately they seem to quite like her.

This may be the story I researched most in terms of the mundane aspects of Cynthia's life. Having inhertited a large property in need of renovation, and then found an egg on her doorstep, Cynthia has to interact with local businesses and organisations, not to mention the area's Wildlife Officer. The businesses are all fictional, and while some of the larger organisations exist, I can't guarantee that any advice they gave Cynthia is entirely accurate with respect to any other business proposition.

As for Matthew, the Wildlife Officer and Cynthia's very low-key love interest, I tried to make his career path roughly follow those I read about online, although I may have made him rather multi-talented in order not to clutter the plot with an excess of other characters. Then again, I do know a few characters like him amongst my family and friends.

I thought I'd share a short piece of Matthew and Cynthia's first meeting with you:

Cynthia thought about her good walking boots back at the house, and about the egg all alone in her airing cupboard. There was a bus, of course, but — she checked her watch — the next one wouldn’t be due for a good forty-five minutes yet. Then the bus back, unless she walked part of the way, taking up more of her morning, would mean another wait of almost an hour.

“I’m going that way myself after here.”

Cynthia turned, and her gaze tracked up until she was looking into a pair of dark blue eyes set deep in a weather-beaten face. Few local men were significantly taller than her, but this was a giant, an impression enhanced further by his shaggy beard and hair, both rich brown shot through with grey.

“Matthew Leedham.” He held out a gnarled paw for Cynthia to shake, then nodded to the girl behind the counter. “Iris here can vouch for the fact I’m not dangerous.”

“Cynthia Fairweather.” She let go of his hand, and stepped aside to allow him to pay for his armload of purchases. He was buying an axe. Cynthia idly wondered if that ought to worry her.

“You were Sophie Todd’s partner.” Matthew didn’t seem to expect an answer, but pocketed his change and turned towards the door. “Come on, then.” He hefted the box containing the axe and assorted other tools onto his shoulder, pushing past Cynthia on his way out.

Cynthia followed him to an extensively dented, navy blue Isuzu Trooper, which bore the logo of Calderdale Countryside Service on its doors and sides. Underneath each she read Matthew’s job title: Wildlife Officer.

“Did you know Sophie, then?” she asked as she clicked her seatbelt into place. She had no recollection of his name, either from conversations with Sophie or from her address book.

“Not really.” Matthew started the engine, and backed out of his parking space. “I think she was a couple of years below Sarah at school, so I’d have left before she started. I saw you at her grandma’s funeral.” His accent had sounded familiar from the start, but that first statement confirmed Cynthia’s suspicion that he was a true local.

“Were we introduced? I’m sorry if I sound rude, forgetting you like that.” She didn’t remember a Sarah from the funeral, either. Surely if the two women had been school friends, there would have been introductions at the church or afterwards.

“Like I said, I didn’t know your partner. I just helped the old lady with her garden sometimes.” Matthew dropped down a gear as the hill they were driving up steepened. “It didn’t seem the time or the place to say anything. Not if you weren’t going to be staying.” He
fell silent, and Cynthia wondered if he resented her moving into the house, now that Sophie was gone too. Suddenly he spoke again. “Besides, she looked tired enough already, with all those people crowding round to pay their respects.”

“She was tired.” The funeral had been hard work for Sophie, no longer used to standing for long periods, but determined to deal with people face-to-face on their level.

“I’m sorry for your loss. Was it...” Matthew slowed the truck right down to take the tight turn into the feed merchant’s yard. “Was it sudden?”

Over to you. Some friends of mine are hoping to move to Hebden Bridge next year, and naturally I'm planning to visit once they're settled in. Does anyone have any tips for them or me about the local area? Is there anything you'd like to ask me about the story?

Link to complete story list
Link to the Kickstarter page for the book's launch
Tags: a series of ordinary adventures, my stories, on writing, story extract
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