• Katrina Jack Author

How to expand your writing horizons (An author's Journey)

My journey as a writer, although I didn’t realise it at the time, began when I was very young. I was about five-years-old and had not long attained the art of being able to read. A whole new and wonderful world was opened up to me, in the form of books! I read, read, read, beginning with the usual children’s books of my time, in the form of Enid Blyton and her “Famous Five” series. I then moved onto C.S. Lewis’s, The Chronicles of Narnia. As my reading skills grew, I also soaked up Lewis Carol’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass.” These, and many more, formed my reading tastes.

When I wasn’t reading, or otherwise engaged, I would be forming stories in my head, often when I was sitting by our coal fire and staring into the flames, or even when I was in bed and should’ve been asleep. I would mentally plot out all kinds of stories in my mind, a habit I’ve retained even now in my old age. However, it wasn’t until I turned fourteen that I began to put pen to paper. I began by writing short stories, which I found a little tedious. One has to be far more disciplined when composing short fiction, than when writing a full length novel, as you can let your imagination run wild! The upshot was that I moved onto books, the first of which was called “Hockworthy Hall”, a dreadful overwritten piece of work, which makes me blush when I think about it.

However, just recently, when I was doing a long overdue cleanout of my computer files, I stumbled across a short story I wrote several years ago, called “The Shopkeeper and his daughters.” I must’ve been in a whimsical mood, when I wrote it, as it’s not in my usual style. I’ve reproduced it here and should you, dear reader, be in a whimsical mood too, peruse it at your leisure and see what you think.

The Shopkeeper and his daughters

Once upon a time, there was a shopkeeper who owned a small greengrocers. He and his three daughters lived above the shop. Their lives were very dull and ordinary, apart from their weekly visit to the library. The eldest daughter loved romance, the middle sister adored adventure and the youngest craved fairytales. Dad read ponderous tomes on history and politics.

Whenever they entered the library, they each headed for their particular sections, looking neither to the left or the right. So it was they remained unaware of the dark narrow passage, containing shelves full of books that were never read – not even by the librarians.

Entrance to this forbidding place was through an arch, above which crouched a gargoyle. Its features were screwed up in puzzlement as if it didn’t understand life at all. Apart from being permanently baffled, it was also an ill-mannered creature; perhaps being draped in cobwebs put it in a bad temper.

One day, after a particularly dull week, the eldest sister entered the library behind the rest of her family, face set in an expression that almost rivalled the gargoyle. She was sick and tired of helping to keep shop; she wanted to think about something else. Normally the prospect of taking out a new romance immediately cheered her up, but she was fed up with that too. Maybe she should take a leaf out of her middle sister’s book, as it were, and try an adventure story for a change. Little did she know that the others all felt the same, they yearned for something different.

Just then the gargoyle chose to blow a loud raspberry; they all stared up at it.

‘How very rude,’ they all chorused and were immediately shushed by the head librarian.

Not sure what to do next, they muttered amongst themselves, until Dad came to a decision. He squared his shoulders, glared at the gargoyle, who winked back, then led his daughters into the fusty darkness that lay beyond the arch.

As they shuffled along, the light from the library became fainter until it almost disappeared. Their feet left prints in the thick dust that covered the floor. The only sounds to be heard were their breathing and the faint chatter from the books on the shelves to either side. The tomes rustled their paged and nudged each other’s bindings, excited for the first time in years; it was easy to tell they weren’t used to visitors. The little family did their best to ignore them until the youngest sister stopped and pointed.

Ahead lay a faint glimmer of golden light. Dad and his offspring looked at each other, shrugged and then walked on. The glow became stronger and they were able to see it came from a large book, lying on a lectern at the further-most of end of the passage. Although it only looked a few feet away, no matter how the man and his girls hurried, it seemed an age before they reached it.

They gathered around and stared in wonder at the parchment pages, illuminated with the most glorious letters and pictures, in red, blue and gold ink. As they gazed in awe, the little family somehow knew that whatever this magnificent volume contained, it would change their lives forever.

‘Once upon a time...’ the shopkeeper began.

The End

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