It’s Friday and time for my Guest Writer Spot, which gives writers the opportunity for their work to be seen and read by others. I accept stories, poems, articles – in fact, anything and everything. All you have to do is make sure your prose is no longer than 2000 words and your poems no more than 40 lines. If you would like some of your writing to be featured on my blog, please contact me here or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
My guest writer this week is the very talented Barbara Henderson. Here is a little bit about her:
Barbara Henderson has lived in Scotland since 1991, somehow acquiring an MA in English Language and Literature, a husband, three children and a shaggy dog along the way. Having tried her hand at working as a puppeteer, relief librarian and receptionist, she now teaches Drama part-time at secondary school. Her historical children’s novel Fir for Luck was published by Cranachan in 2016.
Writing predominantly for children, Barbara has won the Nairn Festival Short Story Competition, the Creative Scotland Easter Monologue Competition Pockets Magazine Fiction Contest and the Ballantrae Smuggler’s Story Competition. She was one of three writers shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize 2013.
The following is the opening flashback of Fir for Luck, Barbara’s children’s novel about the 19th Century Highland Clearances in Scotland.
Strathnaver, 1814: The Inferno
‘They’re going to begin further down the hill.’ Anna’s breaths came fast now, but nothing prepared her for what she was to witness next.
The first rider didn’t greet the tenant. He didn’t dismount, or reason or plead or argue. He looked at Sellar. Sellar gave the smallest hint of a nod.
And the rider hurled his torch at the dry thatch of the house. Within seconds, the roof was ablaze.
Anna’s brain whirled. John leant against the wall for support – the home he had built with his own hands. Scenes of horror continued to play out hundreds of yards beneath them in the valley: children and an old man stumbling from the burning building, stooped with the effort to breathe.
Distant neighbours running in to retrieve what they could, twice, three times, and then no more as the burning roof collapsed inwards. Furious flames licking the grey stones charcoal-black.
‘Help me, John!’ Anna suddenly shouted. ‘Help me; HELP ME!’
Wee Johnnie played among the bracken while his desperate parents pulled out chests and box beds and dresser and cloth, stacking it all against the rock face a little way off, while more and more houses went the way of the first and the sky darkened with the putrid smell of hell.