I’m very excited about my new book, published next week by the lovely people at Hobeck Books. It’s set in my old home town, Glasgow, so today we’ll have a look at some of the places in the book, and I’ll share the first chapter with you too.
Glasgow is a green and leafy place, as you can see from the photo below. Every time I visit, it strikes me how wide the sky feels in Scotland. My main characters, Daria, Liane and Margie all live on the south side of the city, where I grew up.
Below is the kind of street where the dress shop Liane worked in might be found. It could also be where Margie goes searching at the end of the book, desperate to find her little Bridie.
Like many buildings in Glasgow, the Art Gallery and Museum is built in lovely warm red sandstone. Liane and her daughter Frith always enjoy a visit here; as well as the paintings, the gallery has plenty of child-friendly animal and dinosaur exhibits.
And just a few miles outside the city, you find scenery like this. Daria came here to plant a memory tree for little Evie.
Three little girls: Frith loved life. Evie was going to Spain.
And Bridie – Bridie belonged to the past…
(Apologies for the somewhat gappy appearance of the text. If anyone knows how to indent paragraphs easily in WordPress, do let me know.)
They would miss their flight if the taxi didn’t come in the next five minutes. Daria stood at her first-floor living room window, peering up the street. And oh, glory, as if there wasn’t enough to worry about – the thunder that had growled in the distance for the past hour was rumbling ever louder, and look at those clouds. Her shoulders slumped as the sun vanished abruptly and fat raindrops spattered across the window, transforming the street below from Glasgow dustiness into a slick dark stripe, punctuated by blobs of hailstones that melted to join the torrents scudding along in the gutters. Daria leaned her head on the window. A spring storm when she had to get her daughter, along with everything the two of them would need over the next couple of weeks, into a taxi, out again at the airport, into the terminal building and through departures – it was exactly what she didn’t need.
‘Where’s Daddy?’ Four-year-old Evie pushed in front of Daria’s legs to see outside, her pink ‘ready for the taxi’ jacket matching her hot little face.
Daria held out her hand. ‘Come on, we’ll wait downstairs. Daddy’s at a conference in Stirling – remember he said bye-bye yesterday? Got your rucksack?’
Evie ran to fetch the pink elephant rucksack she’d left on the sofa. ‘Daddy’s in Stirling?’
They’d been through it a million times, but what did Stirling mean to a child who’d never been there? Daria dredged up a calm-Mummy smile.
‘That’s right. And today we’re going to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Spain, and Daddy’s coming to join us next week.’
Case, daughter, handbag, travel bag. Daria pulled out her compact and checked her make up. She would do. Come on, Daria, you can do this.
Downstairs, they stood in the shelter of the doorway, Evie leaning out to catch stray raindrops with her tongue while Daria fumbled for her phone. She was still scrolling down her contacts for the minicab company when a blue and white taxi screeched around the corner and pulled up by the gate. At last.
Thank heavens the airport was a mere fifteen minutes away; they would make it. Daria pulled Evie’s hood over her head and wheeled the case down the path to meet the taxi driver, who was standing beside his vehicle glowering at them. He heaved their case into the boot, and Daria opened the back door.
‘In we get, Evie-love.’ She fastened Evie’s seat belt, then her own. Her daughter was a slight little thing and it was never a good feeling in a cab, when Evie had no child seat. Another reason to be thankful the airport was so near. Daria sat tapping her fingertips together as the driver organised his meter and turned on the engine. Come on, come on, we have to go.
The rain intensified as they crawled along to the main road and joined a column of blurry red lights as every commuter in the city headed homewards for the weekend. A band of tension tightened around Daria’s head. They had less than twenty minutes now and they were inching along at a speed she could have matched on foot.
‘We’ll take the back road.’ The driver pulled into a side street, and Daria breathed out. Traffic was flowing here, albeit slowly, but they were on their way at last. She put an arm around Evie and the little girl beamed up at her, then reached across to take Daria’s hand and oh, it was so lovely, travelling with her daughter. They were picking up speed all the time; it was going to be all right. They cut round the back of the cemetery and picked up speed again. This was better.
Daria leaned over to kiss Evie’s damp little forehead, then jerked back in horror as a deep horn blared and headlights from an approaching lorry swept through the cab. A single, sickening scream left Daria’s soul as Evie’s rucksack scratched across her forehead and the taxi skewed sideways, only to be hit from behind and flipped skywards. Her arms opened in search of her child, but she was pitched across the car, twisting in the air as metal tore around her, and–
She was flying. Daria clutched at empty air, then crashed down, rolling over and over, more screams coming from a distance. Hers? Her leg, her arm, oh please, Evie.
Silence. Stillness. Pain. Daria sank into darkness, but far, far away, something was buzzing, irritating. Find Evie, you have to find Evie. Swirling grey shapes replaced the darkness, but breathing was agony and she couldn’t move her leg. Darkness was hovering; God no, she mustn’t die here. A thunderclap above, and stinging rain soaked through her hair, running down her cheeks, down her neck. Far-away voices were screaming behind her, Evie’s high-pitched wail the nearest.
Evie, oh baby, Mummy’s here.
Daria fought to call to her child, but black pain was all around now, no, no, she was going to pass out. Her fingers splayed and met wet plastic: Evie’s rucksack. Wailing sirens swooped closer as Daria fought to stay awake. Please, somebody come…
The background shouts were still too far away to help when the choking smell of petrol reached Daria’s nose. And everything went black.
The book comes out on Tuesday, and if you haven’t read my novella The Clarice Cliff Vase yet, you can get it free right now by subscribing to Hobeck Books on their website.
I’ll leave you with another Glasgow photo.