July 2018


LettersFromElsewhereDark

Letters from Elsewhere will not appear today, but it will be back next Friday, and before that, on Tuesday, there will be a special post. So, keep tuning in and have a great weekend!

And remember:

WeNeedToTalkAboutSocialAnxiety

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Letters from Elsewhere

Well, this is a first for Letters from Elsewhere. There have been letters to the dead before, but never one that crosses millennia – seventy-four of them! Here’s the letter from today’s visitor, Dr Eloise Kluft, who has joined me from the pages of Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton.

Dear Sarah

I believe it’s high time to give poor old Charles Darwin a break and address one of my heartfelt epistles to you instead. But how does one begin to compose a prehistoric ‘thank you’ note? Perhaps in your time this would have taken the form of a gesture, or maybe a chant or a song? But as one of our own contemporary songs goes, I’m afraid that all I have are words. While it’s difficult to know how to thank you, I am nevertheless compelled to do so, and this feels not only appropriate but natural… instinctive. I cannot know what form of communication, verbal or otherwise, you may have used, but I feel that even 74,000 years ago the concept of thankfulness, and the ability to express it, would have been an inherent quality – a vital aspect of what made us human. Gratitude is a universal language, after all?

I will never forget the day I heard the rumours, the whispers that something very special, something that might add another crucial piece to the human puzzle, had been found in the ice on Mt Kenya. I still count my blessings every day that you came my way. Into my laboratory, into my care, under my gaze. Oh but you made us work so hard to unravel your secrets, my girl! And as much as you were celebrated and cherished, you were feared by those who could never accept such a challenge to their own cherished beliefs.

But for everything you carried with you on this last stage of your journey, all the revelations, all challenges and, yes, even the dangers, I thank you, Sarah. (I hope you do not mind the name we’ve given you in our time?) Who knows how, or why, you fell into that glacier, but I thank you for falling into my life, in your rare, fractured, mysterious and ancient form. By allowing me to flesh out your life using both science and imagination, you have brought me back so thrillingly into mine. To all its wonders and to a new appreciation of everything I have to be grateful for.

Whatever your struggles, whatever your joys, I sense that you met them with courage and curiosity. You may have gone hungry too often in your lifetime, but I wonder, did you also stay hungry for life itself? Did you love, did you lose, did your heart break? And, if so, how did you pick yourself up again? What did you learn in your walk upon this planet – and perhaps more importantly, what did you teach, what did you pass on?

You have taught me so much. Much that I hope to share with the wider world – and with any of your surviving ‘children’ –  if they walk among us yet today. But above all, I have read your message from the past as a reminder that I should live my own life as fully as I can, right here and in the consciousness of the present moment. With a mind open to every possibility but also with a heart that’s brave enough to open up once more … to whatever may come.

Thank you, thank you, my dearest Sarah.

Yours

Dr Eloise Kluft

About Bone Lines

StephanieBrethertonBoneLines

A young woman walks alone through a barren landscape in a time before history, a time of cataclysmic natural change. She is cold, hungry and with child but not without hope or resources. A skilful hunter, she draws on her intuitive understanding of how to stay alive… and knows that she must survive.

In present-day London, geneticist Dr Eloise Kluft wrestles with an ancient conundrum as she unravels the secrets of a momentous archaeological find. She is working at the forefront of contemporary science but is caught in the lonely time-lock of her own emotional past.

Bone Lines is the story of two women, separated by millennia yet bound by the web of life.  A tale of love and survival – of courage and the quest for wisdom – it explores the nature of our species and asks what lies at the heart of being human.

Bone Lines is the debut novel from Stephanie Bretherton, out from Unbound in September. A genre-fluid dual narrative, it spans the space between literary, speculative-fiction, ‘present day’ sci-fi, historical fantasy and ‘women’s interest’ with its pair of fascinating female heroines.

Although partly set during a crucial era of human history 74,000 years ago, Bones Lines is very much a book for our times. Dealing with themes from genetics, climate change and migration to the yearning for meaning and the clash between faith and reason, it also paints an intimate portrait of who we are as a species. The book tackles some of the big questions but requires no special knowledge of any of the subjects to enjoy.

You can find more information or pre-order special editions here.

About Stephanie Bretherton

Stephanie BrethertonWho do you think you are? A daunting question for the debut author… but also one to inspire a genre-fluid novel based on the writer’s fascination for what makes humanity tick. Born in Hong Kong to expats from Liverpool (and something of a nomad ever since) Stephanie is now based in London, but manages her sanity by escaping to any kind of coast.

Before returning to her first love of creative writing, Stephanie spent much of her youth pursuing alternative forms of storytelling, from stage to screen and media to marketing. For the past fifteen years Stephanie has run her own communications and copywriting company specialised in design, architecture and building. In the meantime an enduring love affair with words and the world of fiction has led her down many a wormhole on the written page, even if the day job confined such adventures to the weekends.

Drawn to what connects rather than separates, Stephanie is intrigued by the spaces between absolutes and opposites, between science and spirituality, nature and culture. This lifelong curiosity has been channelled most recently into her debut novel, Bone Lines. When not bothering Siri with note-taking for her next books and short stories, Stephanie can be found pottering about with poetry, or working out what worries/amuses her most in an opinion piece or an unwise social media post. Although, if she had more sense or opportunity she would be beachcombing, sailing, meditating or making a well-disguised cameo in the screen version of one of her stories. (Wishful thinking sometimes has its rewards?)

You can find Stephanie on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Letters from Elsewhere

I’m visited today by an anxious character, who longs to be like the rest but needs to hold back. No, this isn’t social anxiety. Skye has a troubled past and is trained to leave nothing behind. Writing a letter isn’t something she would be able to do very often and she’d have to be under a lot of stress to write one.

Skye is the main character in Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree. Here’s her letter:

Reece, my love.

You left me. You made me stay behind. Your actions saved our son, but we’ve had to hide ever since you died. Why can’t you have found a way out?

I move around a lot. I don’t make friends and they probably don’t even notice when I’m gone. Each new town brings a new name, a new career, but Leo is tiring of the game. He wants to settle in one place, for us to stop running. It’s been years, but I’m scared that if they found you, they could find us. I’m lonely. I miss you.

I’m trying to be a good mum but it’s hard on my own. You’ll remember that my cooking is really bad, but our son never complains. He’s a good boy. You’d love him… if only you were here.

I’m going to try and stop scowling at the parents at Leo’s new school, for his sake not mine. He wants us to stay here in the cottage I’ve found. Maybe I can become the mum you always said I could be, before this, before you were gone. The fire in the hearth is warm tonight and I’ll send this letter up to you in the flames, as I can’t leave it here. Something has got to change. I need to change. I’m tired of being alone. I’m sorry. I love you.

Skye.

I hope Skye succeeds in changing, for her sake as well as for her son.

About Ninja School Mum

Ninja School Mum by Lizzie ChantreeObsessive-compulsive school mum, Skye, is a lonely elite spy, who is running from her past whilst trying to protect the future of her child. She tries hard to fit in with the other parents at her son’s new school, but the only person who accepts her unconventional way of life is new mother, Thea.

Thea is feeling harassed by her sister and bored with her life, but she suspects that there is something strange about the new school mum, Skye. Thea has secrets of her own and, although the two become unlikely friends, she hesitates to tell Skye about the father of her own child.

Zack’s new business is growing faster than he could have dreamed but, suddenly, he finds himself the owner of a crumbling estate on the edge of a pretty village, and a single parent to a very demanding child. Could he make a go of things and give his daughter the life she deserved?

When three lives collide, it appears that only one of them is who they seem to be, and you never know who the person next to you in the school playground really is.

About Lizzie Chantree

Lizzie ChantreeLizzie is an award winning author, inventor and businesswoman. She founded her first company at the age of 17 and has been creating products and driving her family mad ever since!

Lizzie appeared on Sky News, ITV Lunchtime News, This Morning, The Big Breakfast, BBC’s Worldwide Radio Service, amongst others for becoming one of Fair Play London’s Female Innovators and inventing a ‘ladder’ stop spray for hosiery.

Lizzie lives with her gorgeous family and a very unusual dog in the English countryside. In between the school run and baking cakes (or burning them!), she sits in her rooftop studio writing contemporary romance novels and daydreaming about new product designs. Lizzie’s books often feature unusual businesses and entice you in to the romantic life of the slightly eccentric entrepreneurs that run them!