For years I have been a writer, an editor and a teacher of creative writing. Now I want to share some of what I have learned along the way. Write On The Fringes is a blog about the dangers, the disappointments and the rewards of writing. It's a record of the writing of a novel, from the tantalising first inklings of an idea, through to the final draft. But above all it's an exploration of the art and the craft of writing and the nature of story, as well as a search for the essence of creativity and the complex nature of truth.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Book Excerpt from Flight

'In the end the only events in my life worth telling are those when the imperishable world irrupted into this transitory one.'
Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

As my new novel is published this week, I'm too unsettled to write a 'proper' post, so have decided to be self-indulgent and post the prologue to Flight. It's a long piece, so I've divided it in two and will post the second part later this week. No doubt by next week I will have settled back into a routine and will be able to focus my thoughts once again. For anyone in Australia and New Zealand who wants to read Flight, it is available as of today in bookshops. For international readers, I'm disappointed to say that I haven't yet found international publishers for Flight, but I believe (depending on geographical copyright restrictions) that you can get it as an ebook from Amazon or Bookdepository. I hope you enjoy the prologue.

Flight - Prologue (Part 1)
I came early, slithering into the outside world and into safety, or so I hoped. But this was to be the first of many hopes, all dashed against the brutally sharp edges of reality. As in all great myths, my birth was accompanied by a prophecy. I, it seemed, would be the death of my father. How this was to come about no one could say. But the prophecy was there, it escaped from the mouth of Simple Simon, the old gardener at the Botanic Gardens in Adelaide where my mother often went to sit in her lunch hour.

On this particular day she was waiting to meet my father. He was late and the pregnant girl felt a persistent nagging worry. There was something big hovering around the edges of things, a sense that life had woken up that morning slightly askew. Nothing she could put her finger on, but it was enough to make her nervous. And then there were the contradictions: worry that he would come, worry that he wouldn't. Fear and love tugging her between them until all she could feel was a tearing anxiety. You see, my father was a strong willed man, older than her, but still too young he said, to be tied down like this. He would have walked away but he was snared by his desire for my mother. She was beautiful and fragile and needy, easy to bully but also detached in a way that he could never put a finger on. This detachment was what kept him there, waiting, wanting her to surrender completely.

It was summer but there was an unexpected chill in the air. The wind was a fresh south easterly, not the usual hot northerly that stirred up dust and discomforts, and the sky was clear enough to make everyone's heart lift. Even my mother's, the seventeen-year-old girl with the rounded belly who sat on a bench chewing a deviled-egg sandwich and watching Simon methodically plant a row of violets, a flurry of chattering birds surrounding him.

When a magpie greedily pecked Simon's finger, perhaps thinking it a fat juicy worm, my mother forgot her troubles for a moment and laughed. Simon looked up, directly at her, and her laughter quickly turned into a shudder. Where one eye should have been there was a socket, dark and deep. One eye looking out, the other inwards – perhaps this was the secret of his second sight. Or then again, it might have been the snakebite all those years ago which left him hovering between life and death for weeks on end. When he finally woke he knew things other people didn't, but he had forgotten how to live in this world. No one knew how old Simple Simon was or how long he'd been working in the Botanic Gardens. He was a fixture, like the giant oak under which my mother sat.

Simon stood up straight, wincing as he stretched, one hand massaging the small of his back, the other leaning on his spade. 'Ah,' he said, shaking his head. 'That one will be the death of her father.' Wincing again at the creaking in his swollen joints, he walked over to my mother and poked his finger into her tight belly. 'Mark my words, the death of him.' While she sat staring at him, open-mouthed, he went back to his planting, still shaking his head, but with a gleam in his eye.

At that moment I moved. Well, bounced really. Did a somersault in a small space, causing my mother to double over in pain and think her time had come. It hadn't. I wasn't going anywhere. Safety, I thought, lay in the warm fluids that contained me. And I didn't want to kill anyone, especially my own father, even though I wasn't exactly fond of him. There'd been words already, white knuckles and fists, sending me curling up into a tighter self-protective ball. My father didn't love me. Even then I knew that. And he didn't love my mother. Like me, she stood between him and his plans. He wanted only to conquer her, in the same way he planned to conquer the world. You see, my father had big ideas swirling inside his head. Even then he loved power more than people. Even then he would let nothing stand in his way.

My mother loved my father but for all the wrong reasons. Love, hate and fear were all bound up together for her. She was young and weak and couldn't distinguish between these things. She wanted me and she didn't. She was afraid. It's not unusual. And Simon's prophecy had filled her throat with the burning need to tell. So when my father arrived a few minutes later, she laughed a kind of brittle nervous laugh and repeated what Simon had said. It was a big mistake, because more than anything my father wanted to live. He was a rational man, or so he claimed, but underneath that rationality lay a deep-rooted superstition. Underneath everything, he knew the power of shadow.

At first he tried to laugh it off but my mother could see the discomfort in his eyes and the tension in his fingers, already bunching up into fists.
'You should have got rid of it,' he hissed. 'I told you.' Then he hit my mother hard in the belly, the shock and pain spreading through her thin skin and into me.

At that moment I decided it was safer out than in. I fled, bursting the bag that contained me, sending the warm liquid pouring down my mother's legs, soaking her pants and forming a puddle on the ground under where she sat, her heart beating in terror from the attack, her breath coming in quick panting bursts. Her fear spread quickly into me. In a panic I bounced my head again and again, pushing at her uterus, sending out waves of contractions. She ran, out of the gardens and onto the footpath, winding her way through other pedestrians, doubling over with the pain as another contraction hit, then running again, away from him, away from the agony that was me and that was tearing her neatly down the middle.

It was lunch hour in the city and there were lots of people about. She could see the concern in their eyes but her terror didn't allow her to respond. Like a panicked horse she bolted, not noticing where she was. It took a Don't Walk sign to bring her to her senses. Perhaps it was some instinct for survival, or the need to protect me. Perhaps it was fate, for the prophecy had been written in the stars and spoken aloud by Simple Simon, setting it in motion. Or perhaps someone reached out their hand and grabbed her arm or dress, yanking her to a halt. It could have been any of these things that made her stop, only a half-second away from the truck that muscled across the intersection, dangerously close to the kerb, making everyone step back and brushing the wind through her hair just as my head burst free of the birth canal, only to find itself imprisoned in her underpants as she slid, moaning, to the ground, hands reaching out to support her. And all the time my father stood back in the crowd, watching me emerge and wanting to stamp the life out of me but unable to come forward. Yet.. . '

(to be continued)

Copyright (c) 2012 by Rosie Dub. All rights reserved. You may translate, link to or quote this article, in its entirety, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website:


  1. A fascinating beginning, Rosie. Best wishes for 'Flight's' success.

  2. Yes, it is indeed a very good beginning. You had me caught, wanting to continue but weary what lay ahead.
    Cheers to you, hope this book becomes a succes.