The Mesmerist’s Daughter has been shortlisted for the Saboteur Novella Award! If you liked what you read and are so inclined, you can vote here: http://www.saboteurawards.org/
It’s a fantastic shortlist, with some brilliant books so a privilege to be included. Fingers crossed!
First, there is the push from the bank, feet flat against the mud, slipping, wrong-footed, legs braced, toes curling around stones, fixing in place, hands gripping the vessel, body flexed, shove and counter shove, eyes fixed on the the direction of travel, the false start, half-in, half-out, sliding back into the dark, before trying again. The rough surface confirms our presence. Another try, the pulling back to reset, regaining our grasp, this time the boat moves forward, accepted by the lake, one final heave and we are in, sitting firm in the balance.
Words determine our direction like waves. The words move us along, tied to the current, a tide of language that unsettles the horizon, the landing spot. Birds call in an unknown tongue; light deciphers what we see, and what we see we pin to the page with the sharp point of black type. The slip slap of fish, the cradle rock of the boat lulls and sickens and our hands, rough-edged and smooth-tipped make signs that ask for an answer. Mapping the journey we take, over land and sea, through synapses and memory, accompanied always by the words, fixed, breathed words precise but diaphanous; made of air and ink.
We cast messages in bottles over the side; materials merge, ink, water, flesh and air. Answers come and go. Words return like ghosts.