With chapters headed by names and starting with two time-frames (Now, After), the moment you open The Shadows We Cast by Sarah Tinsley, it’s clear we’re in psychological thriller territory. The first chapter, from Nina’s point of view, crackles with alarm, while the second, from Eric’s viewpoint, is no less gripping.
Tinsley layers in sharp, pithy descriptions that match the tone: “His pulse is a train-click”, “The stretched darkness of winter has always grated on him.” We’re fed settings and circumstances line by atmospheric line, so we’re fumbling with the characters to understand what’s happened and who is in the wrong.
There’s humour too, as Nina navigates the perils of getting a coffee at work while avoiding chat, speeding past “the HR lot, wallowing around the kitchen like it’s a watering hole” and passing Brian in Sales, who, thankfully “seems safely amused by something on his phone, either that or he’s checking up his nostrils.”
Later, a group of ‘office drones are described through Eric’s eyes as having “gel swooping their hair, like a wind has caught each one in a different direction.”
I’m delighted by Sarah Tinsley’s lovely review of my Reflex Press collection The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain and thought-provoking accompanying interview. Thanks Sarah!
Sarah, who is a brilliant author herself, writes:
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be welcoming Judy Darley back to the blog. Last year I featured her collection Sky, Light, Rain, a themed collection that contained beautiful stories and gorgeous writing. This time, we’re talking about The Stairs Are A Snowcapped Mountain, a collection of stories that similarly revolves around the natural world and relationships, but feels a little darker at the edges.
One thing I love about Darley’s writing is the style. There are the odd turns of phrase that just lift the whole story off the page, like ‘mushroom-hued water’ from Tidal Suck and ‘Crumbs drop between us like pollen. Like rain.’ from Wild Times. (…) The way she captures the essence of these lives in sometimes very short pieces is truly astounding. Do take the time to read it, you won’t regret it.”
Sarah asked me some really interesting questions, which gave me the chance to mention some favourite characters and stories, including Hera in Self-Defence Against Yesterday, Pippa in Tunnelled, Zel in Stealing from Windowsills, and the River in Why Rivers Run to the Sea. We also talked about Stretching Out, about a grandfather’s influence on his granddaughter’s love of nature, and one of my favourite stories to read aloud.
Read the full review and interview here.
Find out more about The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain and purchase here.