Sky Light Rain – Woman and Birds

3_Woman and BirdsOver the coming weeks, I’ll share a few insights into the stories that make up my collection Sky Light Rain. I’ll explore them in the order in which they appear in the book. My third story in the collection is ‘Woman and Birds’.

This story was inspired by two journeys – one to Barcelona, where the story is set, and an overnight train ride from Sacramento to Portland. In the latter, I sat next to a woman travelling to retrieve her child from her ex-partner who’d had the child in their custody for the summer, and now refused to give them up. The challenges of that scenario stuck with me for more than a decade before surfacing in this tale.

‘Woman and Birds’ takes the form of a treasure hunt through Barcelona as my protagonist follows clues to track down her ex, Eulàlia, and their daughter Ocell. The title is an homage to Catalan artist Joan Miro and his sculptures, most of which seemed to be titled something along the lines of Woman and Bird.

The story begins:

Eulàlia doesn’t meet me at Barcelona Airport as promised. I tell myself that she must be busy with our daughter Ocell, and catch a taxi into the city instead. The driver has a kind face; I tip him more generously than I normally would and feel a stab of something like self-righteousness. See, I’m being good even when Eulàlia is not.

Sky Light Rain is published by Valley Press and is available to purchase here.

Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Two Pools of Water.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Moth Room‘.

Sky Light Rain – Weaving Wings

Weaving Wings by Judy DarleyOver the coming weeks, I will share a few insights into the stories that make up my collection Sky Light Rain. I’ll explore them in the order in which they appear in the book. My second story in the collection, and in section one Sky, is ‘Weaving Wings’.

This flash fiction story is only half a page long, but it was inspired by a huge true tale. I’d read articles about Mexican migrant children separated from their parents by the US government, and the idea haunted me. It seemed so barbaric. Two details about this really got to me – the fact that some of the children were writing letters they weren’t even sure would be sent to their parents, and the heaps of yarn brought out to keep them occupied during leisure time.

According to this news story published in October 2019, 5,460 children were separated from their parents due to the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy.

In my flash fiction I try to examine this ludicrous behaviour from the point of view of a child trying to make the best of an appalling situation.

My version of this story begins:

The best time is when we have an hour outside and can run and race like we’re still on our way. I pretend that I’m running to my mama and that this is all a game.

I’ve recorded myself reading ‘Weaving Wings’, which you can watch here. It also featured in National Flash Fiction Day’s #FlashFlood on 6th June 2020.

Sky Light Rain is published by Valley Press and is available to purchase here.

Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Two Pools of Water.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Moth Room‘.

Sky Light Rain – Untrue Blue

1_Untrue Blue by Judy Darley
Over the next few weeks, I will share a few insights into the stories that make up my collection Sky Light Rain. I’ll explore them in the order in which they appear in the book, so will begin with the tale ‘Untrue Blue’.

This story examines a relationship between a brother and sister, from the point of view of the sister Tia. Themes include trust and betrayal, and when the truth can be the greatest cruelty of all.

You might notice if you’ve read my stories that sibling relationships and rivalries are recurring topics. A brother or sister might be the first person you come to know on an equal footing – your earliest memories are likely entwined with theirs, and there’s a high possibility that they know all the versions of you. It gives them a rare power. If anyone can derail you, I bet it’s them!

Bristol’s Cabot Tower, which I can see in the distance from my home and spent many childhood days climbing, is a key location for the pair in ‘Untrue Blue’.

The story begins:

As children we would go flying at night. You were always the instigator, shaking me awake then unlatching the window to let the night creep cool and bright beneath our pyjamas, under our skin. I’d edge out first, blinking in the sweep of orange-tarnished sky, beneath the faint stinging stars.

The story contains hints of fairytales and a touch of magic realism. For me, there’s a bit of wish fulfilment too – as a child I believed there was no more enviable superpower than the ability to fly!

I started writing it with the image the tale opens with, and then wanted to know why Tia seemed so wary of her brother. A lot of my fiction unfurls that way – with a scene I glimpse in my head like something from a film, and a question that leads me to what happens next. In fact, a lot of my writing is a journey of discovery.

Sky Light Rain is published by Valley Press and is available to purchase here.

Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Two Pools of Water.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Moth Room‘.

 

A short story – Wild Times

Bees_MIR_darleyI’ve really been relishing the wildlife in my garden and surrounding area over the difficult months of lockdown. My short tale ‘Wild Times‘ takes this thought, exaggerates it and blends in a splash of curiosity about human nature,

I’m thrilled to share the news that ‘Wild Times‘ has been published as part of MIR’s Stories in the Time of Covid 19 project. A meditation on nature, both human and other…

You can read ‘Wild Times‘ in full here: http://mironline.org/wildtimes/

Two tales – The Rules of Contagion and Sanctuary

Elephant, Thailand. By Judy DarleyI’m so happy to have two stories in issue 34 of the wonderful The Cabinet Of Heed literary journal.

Firstly, a lockdown inspired story titled ‘The Rules of Contagion’ at https://cabinetofheed.com/2020/06/10/one-word-prompts

Secondly, a story inspired by a visit to Thai elephant sanctuary, titled ‘Sanctuary’, under https://cabinetofheed.com/2020/06/10/photo-prompts/… (scroll down to the elephant).

There are drawers full of fabulous tales to distract you in this fine issue!

A short story – the ebb and flow of tides

The Ebb and Flow of Tides by Judy DarleyI’m delighted that my short story ‘The ebb and flow of tides‘, in which a couple separated by lockdown enjoy a two-person remote carnival, has been published in issue 1 of Perhappened Magazine.

In solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement currently rocking the Globe, Perhappened’s excellent editors are password-protecting the first issue upon its release and asking you to either show evidence of a donation of ANY AMOUNT to a BLM/bail fund-related cause, or  proof of signed petition(s), and/or email templates for justice.

Here’s how The ebb and flow of tides begins:

For my lover’s lockdown birthday, we devise carnival costumes to cheer ourselves up.
My mask will be the sun, to represent my fiery temperament. Hers will be the moon:
calm, cool, reflective.

We live in different households, so there’s no chance of holding hands.

I must have water on the brain at the moment, as on Saturday 6th June, National Flash Fiction Day, I wrote a short tale prompted by the photo of a stormy sea. My story is called ‘Why rivers run to the sea‘, and explains exactly that in the words of the River Frome which  rushes through Bristol. Happily, this story is now live at The Write-In.

Here’s a taste of the tale:

I hunger for salt. I call to the gulls to follow me. I ripple with the anticipation of
spider crabs, squat lobsters, cuttlefish, cup coral and squirts.

I crave the North Atlantic.
My spine shivers with the instinct to surge in peaks.

This story has since been played on BBC Radio Bristol.

My teeny story ‘Ruby‘ is now live at https://thedrabble.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/ruby/ Interestingly, in my head the characters are both female, but the pic they chose seems to show a man and a woman. What do you think?

A Flash Flood of Fiction

Weaving Wings by Judy DarleyTomorrow, Saturday 6th June 2020, marks National Flash Fiction Day UK, and I’m thrilled to have one of my stories take part. All day long, flash fiction stories will be published in the Flash Flood, and my tale Weaving Wings, a favourite of mine from my collection Sky Light Rain, will appear at around 8.40am BST.

I’m particularly thrilled as this year, thanks to lockdown, the hard-working team at NFFD headquarters received an unprecedented number of high quality submissions – 1,650 in total!

You can pop in at any time from 00:01 BST on 6th June to dip a toe in the torrent. From the chatter on Twitter it looks like there will be some shining examples of the flash fiction form to sweep you along.

You’re also invited to take part in the The Write-In this year. Throughout Saturday 6th June, the team will publish 24 flash prompts — one every hour from 00:01 to 23:59 BST.

“Submit your responses by 23:59 BST on Sunday 7th June for a chance to be published at The Write-In.  Writers of all levels of experience welcome!”

A short story – Shadows and Shine

The BeautifullestI’m thrilled that my flash fiction story ‘Shadows and Shine’ has been published in The Beautifullest: Pure Slush Vol. 17. It’s a slightly twisted tale of sibling rivalry between two brothers.

Here’s a line from my story:

‘A spare key to the woman’s house hangs in their hallway. He wants to see what happens if he enters while she’s out.’

The publication features flash fiction, poetry and essays by 89.
Various other eBook formats will follow in the coming weeks.

A short story – The Go-Get-Gone

The Go-Get-Gone by Judy Darley
My short story The Go-Get-Gone, about a teen trying to enjoy a night out despite the best efforts of her dissociative identity disorder symptoms, has been published on the Lucy Writers’ Platform. I’m thrilled!

I’m delighted to see Amanda and her so-called friends coaxed out of the shadows!

This story has taken a long while to grow strong enough to fumble its way into the light. I believed in it from the start but needed to translate the story in my mind from its nebulae state into something other people could understand. Somehow that seems really apt, given the topic, and now I’m cheering for Amanda and Bim for remaining resolute throughout.

My editor Hannah at the Lucy Writers’ Platform introduces my story with the following words:

Amanda is out for the night with her new school mate, Lea. But when her so-called friends – an assortment of symptoms from her Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) – turn up, she finds it hard to determine who and what is real.

You can read the story in full here.

A short story – Rocked Awake

Earthworm by Judy Darley
I’m chuffed to bits that my mini myth Rocked Awake has been published as part of Dear Damsels‘ nature theme.

In the story, a mother attempts to solve the riddle of why her baby daughter is usurped in her crib by wild flora and fauna. Nature’s clues lead her to a fresh interpretation of the changeling myth. 
Here’s a fragment from the centre of the tale:

This morning, it was an earthworm, fleshy and pale, curled into a shape like a shepherd’s crook.Sometimes it wasn’t even a creature that breathed – last week my daughter had been usurped by an acorn.

You can read my full story, and the other fabulous words published by Dear Damsels, here.