A great book and I love this interview
Today’s interview is with one of my oldest writing acquaintances, Mr E O Higgins! His novel, Conversations with Spirits, has made the Amazon Bestseller list, and was nominated for The Guardian / Edinburgh Book Festival ‘First Book Award’ 2014.
Mr Higgins, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about your novel.
Conversations with Spirits is a comic mystery book set during the Great War.
It’s about a rather washed-up ponce, called Trelawney Hart, who is recruited by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – the author of Sherlock Holmes – to investigate a psychic, who is doing strange, magical things in a small seaside town on the South Coast of England.
What made you want to write a novel like Conversations with Spirits?
I used to go out with a girl that liked to visit psychic fares and such things. I tended to go with…
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I’m sitting on a bench surrounded by children climbing, swinging, digging and sliding as the sun peeps out through a cloudy sky. A peaceful calm settles over me despite the occasional child’s excited scream, I smile as my son waves from the sand-pit. Trees stand around me like old men in a bar and the horizon drops below the hill to reveal the city skyline. A rustle beneath my feet causes me to glance down and I take in the litter protuding from under bench like creeping ivy. I look again to notice dirty wet wipes strewn across the play ground, dented beer cans tossed beneath trees whilst sweet and crisp wrappers lay throughout like ugly flower-beds. The more I look the more I see, a human trail of litter covers the newly installed children’s play area like a tsunami.
Before the facts of what I see begin to weigh me down like flagstones a bird song so clear and tender causes me to turn around. A grey-faced dog daintly skips towards the neon hoop his master has thrown and a cool breeze chills my arms, I stand and reach for my jacket, preparing to leave I wonder how can we take care of the planet if we can’t even take care of the children’s park.
Inspired by Writing 101’s Challange, day 8 – Death to Adverbs.
Prompt: Go to a local cafe, park etc and write a piece inspired by something you see.
Twist – write an adverb-free post.
He stared back at me and said nothing.
I pressed “The things I’ve read about you and the more I learn the less I understand, it doesn’t add up anymore, I just don’t get it.”
He sighed heavily
“I don’t know why you’re looking at me like that, I was given this bloody fairy tale notion of who you are and now I’m all grown up things are not exactly what they were made out to be are they?”
“You pushed me away” he finally said.
“I didn’t!” I shouted, “when I was little I looked up to you, I tried to contact you I even sent you invitations but you never showed!”
“I was there Millie but you just didn’t see me” his voice steady as mine was rising.
“Don’t give me some bullshit story that you were there in the audience as I graduated, this is not a movie this is real life.” I was losing control.
“When I tried to speak to you, you wouldn’t listen, you were always busy rushing about, did you ever stop to think why I couldn’t get through?” he asked
“You’re kidding me right?”
“I can’t give you all the answer’s Millie, it doesn’t work like that. Your jumping to a lot of conclusions. I’m sorry you don’t understand the why’s and wherefores but that’s just life. In the end you have to make your own choice.”
“Your asking me to choose?” my throat closing with emotion
“No Millie but in the end that’s what it come’s down to.”
Choking back the tears I whispered “People are hurting and I wonder if it’s because of you?”
He looked at me wearily, “I guess it sometimes appears that way ”
“Too right it does! Why can’t you just lay it all out and tell everyone the truth, it would fix everything.”
“Because you can’t handle the truth” he said chuckling to himself at the movie reference.
“Look” he said “Back then I came here to do a job but I was a man too you know? I had vulnerabilities and believe it or not imperfections. There can be a lot of beauty in imperfection Millie and lessons too.”
“Is that your excuse?” I said
“If you will just shut up for a minute and listen, I know your Dad let you down they all did. But why do you carry that same perception when you look at me?”
Suddenly I was lost for words
“I’m right aren’t I” he pressed
“Maybe” I said begrudgingly
There was a huge clatter as the door flung open, Father Yates stumbled in struggling with boxes, he kicked the door shut and dropped them down on the back pew.
As he straightened up I caught his surprise “I’m sorry” he said “I thought there was no one here”
“It’s OK I was about to leave anyway.”
“Please don’t leave on my account” he said “I don’t want to disturb your prayer time”
“It’s OK” I said “I’ve finished now”
Father Yates smiled , “Well” he said “I hope you get the answers you are looking for”
“I think I did” I nodded “I think I did”
*Inspired by Writing 101’s Challenge* Give and Take – Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else. Twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue.
He arrived in June the heat was intense and when I looked at him I felt as if I already knew him that I had always known him. Do you remember the first time you fell in love, well for me getting to know my child was just this, only the feeling never fades and grows stronger each passing moment. It’s a different kind of love, instinctual, constant, you just connect with your child like no other human being. I used to think surely as parents we help form their personalities but he arrived with one of his own. The only thing we impart is a feeling of security and being loved (or the opposite if parenting is not your forte). His small arms around my neck with fingers holding my hair as his head lay asleep on my shoulder, from the way he clutched my long hair in his tiny fists as he breast-fed, to developing his own language, my life became a consuming adventure of watching this little person grow and impart his wisdom upon me. I observed his fresh joyful view of the ordinary and how he tried to converse with me regarding this by any means nessecary, blowing rasberries was a sign of contentment, strawberries was pronounced bourberries, a drink was “baygor”, then when he formed his first sentance he would repeat it over and over like a soft echo till it was a whisper, just to feel how it sounded. Eventually his hair grew into soft golden curls which bobbed up and down like a water buoy in the ocean. Then walking became running, constant running, he just couldn’t take it all in fast enough there was so much to see. I was left exhausted on the sidelines but so happy to be reliving childhood all over again. Having a child gives you unwritten permission to roll around ball pits, climb giant slides, play on the swings and trust me the second time round is just as much fun. It used to annoy me when random people said “enjoy it, it won’t last long” but in a way they were right, these precious moments fly by and the passing of time trudges brutally on; you want to shout stop, wait just give me a little longer but it goes on with or without you As children we think we will be young forever, it’s as if time has slowed down and childhood drags on and on whilst grown-ups are viewed as another species. But when you are the grown-up and have the privilage of watching your child grow it’s the opposite, time speeds up and you’re allowed just a few snapshots before it’s over and they are adults.
So.. my advice? Try your best not to screw it up.
WordPress’s Writing 101 Challange – day Six: A Character-Building Experience. Prompt: Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year? Twist: Turn your post into a character study.
In Accident & Emergency the man huddled beside her twitched in his sleep, she was given a leaflet and told to wait. After treatment she returned to collect her coat, the twitching man was awake. She smiled, he didn’t reciprocate, she turned “you forgot this” he said handing her the leaflet she had discarded. On the bus her wrist throbbed, rain obliterated the view, her eyes fell on words scrawled across the back “I will not die alone – suffering is all we have.” Traffic stood still as police cars screeched by, sirens deafened the passengers, she looked at the words again .
WordPress’s Writing 101 challange Day 5 – Be Brief – Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter. Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible
I think the only reason I was with him was my own low self esteem, I was lonely, I didn’t think I was worthy of anyone, hell I think I even secretly looked down on him myself. My friend nodded, I could tell she wasn’t listening, she was already thinking of the next thing she could tell me about herself and the loser she’d attached herself too this time, but I knew it made her feel better hearing about my humiliation. Yes she said, we all used to wonder when you walked into a room what the hell you two were doing together? Did you never pick up on how Neil looked at him, he loathed him! Yes I said, stirring my coffee, I did notice.
I tuned out from her observations of my life and secretly wondered why I was having to yet again tell of my devastation at finding out the man I had shared my life with for 5 years had left me for someone else? It had been over for 6 months but our conversation never seemed to move on from this subject. I was also surprised how long she had lasted in this coffee bar. She usually feigned anxiety or agoraphobia (or which ever disorder she was suffering from that week) in order to make you return to her neighbourhood which was generally frequented by unemployed drunks propping up their local bar.
Later as I sat on the tram heading home I accidently overheard the lady infront of me having a conversation on her mobile-phone. “She’s one of those people who only loves misery Carla, she cannot be happy for you when you find happiness, she’ll be your best friend when your miserable but if things start going well don’t ask her to be happy for you, she just can’t”. It was like the universe was speaking to me, as if this conversation was being played out for me in that moment. The urge to tap the lady on the shoulder and tell her that I knew exactly what she meant was overwhelming, but I managed to hold my tongue and quietly exited at my stop to trudge home.
On the way I tried to remember the last time we’d really laughed or even got together without our arrangements being cancelled on the day at least six times before we ever met up. Things seemed such hard work lately, I was tired of sharing my life with people who didn’t seem to be there for me. Or maybe I just felt tired and that was warping my view on things? I needed a hot bath and I hurried home as the sky darkened and the first drips of rain started to fall.
Inspired by WordPress’s Writing 101 challange. Day Four: Serially Lost: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more. Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.