Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday's Special Is...The Woman in the Wall!

THE WOMAN IN THE WALL by Shona Snowden

Shona Snowden lives with her husband and children in Sydney, Australia. She works as a freelance copywriter, squeezing writing essays and fiction into the gaps between her client work. Her short stories have been published in several national magazines in Australia and 'The People's Friend' in the UK, and her humour has appeared in 'The Sydney Morning Herald'.

The Book Roast tapped into her most awesome marketing and publicity talents to put together a vibrant community of authors! She has truly been a driving force behind the energy of the Book Roast blog, and we are happy to share her novel, THE WOMAN IN THE WALL –
a mystery with elements of horror.


Jac Thompson is the perfect tax accountant: diligent, meticulous and devoid of personal dramas. Nobody knows she is concealing a harrowing Glasgow childhood as the child of an alcoholic and a drug addict behind her columns of obedient numbers and endless 'To Do' lists.

That's until Jac loses her job and is forced to retreat to her isolated cottage on Scotland's east coast. Her estranged father reappears, claiming to be sober, repentant and ready to help her pick up the pieces. However, when he reveals a skeleton in the wall of the cottage while renovating, his 'perfect dad' persona collapses. The discovery of a baby's corpse back on their home estate in Glasgow unnerves him even further and he hides himself in the wall cavity alongside the skeleton.

With her new life in ruins, Jac delves reluctantly into the shabby secrets of her old one to track down the identity of the baby and release her father from his self-imposed prison.

At first she's not sure why she's trying so hard to release somebody she's spent her whole life trying to escape. But soon she understands. Neglect is only the start of it. Like her cottage, Jac's life is built on bones.


Visit Shona here


Excerpt from WOMAN IN THE WALL

I perch the ring on the windowsill in front of me while I'm doing the washing up. It's a hollow moon of curved yellow-gold, with tiny scratches all around the outside. From this angle I can glimpse the indentation of the inscription inside, but the words are too tiny to read. It doesn't matter. The words are as engraved on my memory as they are on the ring. 'DB & RB' and the date: '12/7/21.' The date they got married, the date they started a life together. DB and RB and this little ring. Now the little ring is all that's left. Why am I keeping it? It's not mine. This is no family of mine.

Mum had a wedding ring. A plain gold band, like this one. Towards the end it got loose. It would slide up and down her bony fingers. 'You'll lose that,' Dad would say and she'd just shrug. I think he might have been afraid she would sell it; he'd rather it were in a wee velvet box in his bedside table than spinning around her finger.

She never did sell it, although she sold everything else – the silver teapot Dad inherited from his Gran, the video recorder, even the china, so we had to eat off plastic picnic plates from Woolworths – but not her wedding ring. When it came back from the crematorium with the rest of her stuff, it had a speck of dried blood on it. I don't know what Dad did with the ring. Maybe he threw it away.

Like I should throw this one away. I pick it up with my dripping hands and drop it smartly into the pedal bin. The lid closes with a snap and I turn back to the sink.

Suddenly I'm breathing in cold air. I look down at the washing up. The bubbles on the surface of the water are popping, melting away into grey scum. I touch the surface of the water. It's greasy and cold, even though when I lifted my hands out to pick up the ring my skin glowed red from the heat of the water.

The door slams as Dad comes in, blowing away the silence with clapping hands and heaving breaths. 'It's dead cold out there the night. No' much better in here, either.' He strides across the room and snaps on the electric bar heater, standing in front of it, rubbing his hands together as if it were an open fire. 'Wish we had a telly, eh, lass? That's the thing for a cold night.'

I'm not sure how a telly can drive away the cold. Or the misery. Because it's not just cold in here. It's misery. The air in the cottage is full of misery. Not a hard thing for me to recognise.

Before I sit down I take the ring out of the bin and put it back in my pocket.
******************************************************************

Answer the following question for a chance to win a $15 gift certificate to Amazon.

Describe a typical family dinner at the Snowden residence.

37 comments:

Chris Eldin said...

Good Morning Everyone!!

It has been a pleasure and an honor to know Shona through the blogging community. She is one of those writers who you just know will make it big one day.

I hope you enjoy the excerpt...it's just one example of her fantastic ability to capture mood.

Mary Witzl said...

Yay, I'm practically the first!

I'm guessing a typical meal at the Snowden residence is...um...I have absolutely no idea so I'll guess pot pies, boiled peas, maybe a salad (Australia, after all) -- all washed down with good strong tea. That's close to what we're having tonight...

laughingwolf said...

welcome shona... love the excerpt, chris :)

a snowden family dinner must consist of mutton chops, saltwater croc steaks, eucalyptus salad, mashed spuds, shrimp from the barbie, 'roo shiskebob, julienned carrots, and rabbit stew, all washed down with gallons of tea and/or foster's ;) lol

Chris Eldin said...

Hi Mary!

Hi LW!

Yum! *Some* of that sounds delicious. heheheh

:-)

laughingwolf said...

hiya chris... which parts? :O lol

Danette Haworth said...

Just wanted to say the excerpt has a haunting, foreboding quality--love it!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Hey Shona,

Love that the WIW is now a novel. Awesome work. What time is it in Oz? Middle of the night?

Aerin said...

Shona, my dearest! How fun that you're here! I think typically your family is restricted to eating whatever the zombie cow can catch.

sylvia said...

Wow, this is the first time I've seen Shona's novel described and it sounds awesome!

I love the excerpt and the ring ending up back in her hand.

I'm trying to envision her family dinner.

I think there are pretty pictures on the plates, in bright colours. Most evenings, dinner consists of meat and two veg, but lots of interesting, fresh veg, not mushy peas and stewed carrots! Food is placed in the centre of the table for everyone to serve themselves and they do - amidst much shouting and talking and laughing. There's something sweet bought from the shops for afters, but only if you try a bit of everything and clear your plate.

Chris Eldin said...

Hi All,

Thanks for dropping in! I think Shona is whipping up a dinner for her guest who resides in the dining room wall...
;-)

She'll be here shortly.

JaneyV said...

Does the ring belong to the skeleton of the woman in the wall? I love how this is shaping up Shona. Last time I checked in Jac was still at death's door and her Dad was doing the shopping. The mystery deepens...

Typical breakfast at the Snowden's is chaotic with children not getting ready and Mr Snowden leaving early. The dog is begging under the table and homework has yet to find its way into book-bags. Shona has fruit, yoghurt and bran flakes while the children change their minds about their favourite breakfast cereal as soon as a new box is bought. Shona issues reminders about football gear and flute practice whist stuffing sandwiches and fruit into lunch boxes. Reminders are issued at 5 minute intervals about the time until everyone is in the car.

jason evans said...

The title really gets me. And the notion of a skeleton in the wall!! I've kicked around a similar plot element in the past. Something poignant, mysterious, and weirdly romantic to such a story. I also like the overlay of the dead with the living.

I wish you all success with it!

bridget3420 said...

A typical family dinner at the Snowden residence would consist of baked grasshopper, fried ants and the main course, a human thigh.

jjdebenedictis said...

I've read bits of this story before, but not this bit. My impression is the same, however: This is a hell of a good writer.

Robin S. said...

Hi Shona,

I don't know what your typical dinner would be, but I'd love me and mine to hang out with you and yours in Oz and find out. Maybe someday...

Anyway, I'm betting that whatever the Snowden's have, it's cooked a lot on the barbie. Or the Scottish variation thereof.

Chris Eldin said...

I want to thank everyone for dropping in and taking a moment to say hi.

This isn't like Shona to be absent so long, so I hope everything is okay. We'll stay open past nine for this one.

Thanks again!!
:-)

McKoala said...
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McKoala said...
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McKoala said...

Mmm, aussie stuff.

Shona Snowden said...

I'm here, I'm here! Sorry it took a while; Mini Me needs prevented me from an early morning log-on today. Responses coming... (I have an interesting diet, don't I?)

Shona Snowden said...

Mary, meat pies are supposed to be Aussie's national food - that and vegemite. My son loves them and peas, and weirdly, cucumber; so that would be his dream meal!

LW, very clever, except for the fact that DH won't touch Fosters, says it tastes like cats'...well, this is a family blog, so insert word of choice...

Thank you Danette, thank you Sarah - yes, it probably was the middle of the night, then.

LOL Aerin. Sadly it only catches other zombies and we find them rather rank on the palate.

Thank you, Sylvia! That would be my ideal dinner and it's pretty much what we do on weekends - during the week DH is never home for kid dinner. (And how did you know that I never make desserts?!)

Hi Janey and thank you - yes, it's that ring. Your breakfast scenario is frighteningly close to reality - except, no flutes. Piano.

Thank you, Jason! Wow, Bridget - have you been peeking through windows at dinner time?!

Thanks JJ! Robin, book your flight and I'll find a haggis for you.

Chris, thanks for everything.

Chris Eldin said...

YAY! The Aussie is here!!

I'm going to sign off and let Shona keep this open for as long as she can!! You late-nighters are in for a treat!!
:-)

Shona Snowden said...

That's if anyone is still up, apart from me... West coasters, where are you?!

I should be writing a brochure about steel products, but I'd rather be chatting with you.

laughingwolf said...

hey shona, the winter blast keep you away? :O lol

about the beer, sorry, it's the only oz brand i know of up here :(

Shona Snowden said...

Hi LW! The kidlings and their many requests kept me busy this morning!

DH recommends VB - Victoria Bitter - or Carlton. Never Fosters!

laughingwolf said...

k, thx... not sure if those brands are available in canada?

not seen in halifax liquor stores, at any rate....

Shona Snowden said...

No idea. I tend to wash down my barbecues with a bucket of white wine.

laughingwolf said...

ooops! forgot... my youngest kidlet turned 24 today :D

so i know all about those younger ones ;) lol

laughingwolf said...

white wine's good, though i only have red atm, and some brandy ;)

laughingwolf said...

are you related to that pom, tony snowden?

Phoenix said...

So, the DH has direct experience with what cats' whatever tastes like, eh? Yes, meals at Shona's must be very interesting!

Quite an evocative, moody piece, SS. Damn fine writing indeed!

But I just have to know: Is 12/7/21 Dec 7 or July 12 in Aussieland? Or am I spoiling the mystery by asking?

Shona Snowden said...

LW, I hope you remembered to call! An no, no royal relations here.

Thanks Phoenix! We usually do our dates the UK way here - day, month, year.

What DH chose to eat/drink as a child was not my responsibility...

laughingwolf said...

no prob there, shona... he still lives with me ;) lol

i was able to give him his card and present before he went to work

i prefer to use it day/month/year too, the rebel in me against the american standard, though in other things i follow their lead lol

Sarah Laurenson said...

Hey Shona,

Still hanging in there? So what do you guys eat? And do the kids eat something completely different than you and your hubby?

Shona Snowden said...

Hi Sarah, just in time for the closing!

We eat...normal food, really! I do cook almost everything myself, from basic ingredients, although I often make enough for two nights, so I don't have to go the whole hog every night! We do eat the same. There's a lot of reheating going on around here, but that's ideal for working around soccer practices etc.

I'm a fresh food policeman, to the kids disgust, and my friends know it, so we practically have to go to Macdonalds in masks on the rare occasions we go, and I have never got over the shame I felt when caught with a box of chicken nuggets in my supermarket trolley (they were for a kids' party, really they were!)...

However, having said all that, the winner is...Bridget! Because her gruesome suggestion fitted the tone of The Woman in the Wall (although there is no actual cannibalism in it, honest!).

Bridget, email me via my website and I will send you your voucher.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Reheat is my favorite button on the microwave. ;-)

Actually my wife is an amazing cook and feeds me wonderful and healthy dinners (which we then reheat the leftovers for lunch).

laughingwolf said...

grats bridget, and thx shona :)