Publications

16 of February 2009

NOVELS

Here or There - Rebecca Strong's first novel

Here or There - Rebecca Strong's first novel

My first novel, Here or There, was published by Legend Press in July 2007.

Here or There is set around the lives of several characters trying to find the right path in life and deal with the consequences of their decisions.  It is an exploration of something we all struggle with sometimes; the biggest challenge we face is not the quest for happiness, but the quest for that which will keep us happy.  As humans, we are always searching for validation and greater fulfilment in life – this can be a good thing, or a very destructive thing.

The structure, of eleven seemingly unconnected characters whose lives get more and more interlinked throughout the book was a concept I had right from the start – perhaps the only part of the novel I had planned out when I began writing.  I love the mystery it creates, and the challenge of writing from different perspectives, some of them so different to my own.  I don’t like to have a rigid plan when writing; I’d rather focus on the characters and see where they take me.  I also wanted to break conventional stereotypes about age and reason: that teenagers are foolish, that mothers always put their children first, and that those in positions of responsibility are generally wise.  We can make mistakes when we’re young or old and, similarly, we can make good decisions at any age.

‘An excellent read and a treat for book lovers.’ - Amazon.co.uk

‘It’s always good to see a writer striving to be the above the ordinary, and this is something that Rebecca Strong does superlatively well’. - The Society of Young Publishers

You can read more reviews of my novel here:

In The Bookseller

Small Press Review

Woman’s Own - Review Page

Amazon

BUY THE BOOK!

Extract from Here or There

Prologue

Desire can always be split into two. The things you desire, by their very nature, are never the things you have. Although the things you have are still desired, still things you appreciate – when you take the time to remember. Desire will always disappoint you, in the end. For what you want is never as good as the wanting itself.
She had shown him this, in a way. He had to be grateful: without her he would have been lost, even unto himself, and at least for a while everything had had meaning, a purpose. She enlightened him, back then, and he drank her in until he was so intoxicated she controlled all his actions, a feeling he wholeheartedly embraced. Diminished responsibility, he’d like to claim, but he would be laughed at or, worse, despised.
“It was mutual; it was what we both wanted,” she’d argue, “wasn’t it?” she’d add, a little insecurity creeping through. Because, at the end of the day, she’d lost more than he had, sacrificed her whole world in search of one she could control, only to find herself wanting, again.
It had been on the news; he remembered the day she had gone to the front door as usual, picked up that day’s national newspaper and retreated to the kitchen for a routine cup of coffee. He had been in the bedroom when he heard her exclaim and, thinking she had hurt herself, he rushed clumsily into the kitchen, almost tripping over the bags that at that time resided permanently on the bedroom floor. Instead she was seated, one hand over her mouth and the other clutching at the paper sheets, eyes rapidly scanning words that had by then become so familiar to them.
“What did you expect?” he had asked her. “It’s no surprise they’ve covered it – there’s a lot of interest in these sorts of things.”
“‘These sorts of things’?” she had responded defensively, immediately standing him alongside the media fiends and vicious critics. That’s how it became, eventually; at one time the two of them had stood together, but now their own actions only served to pit them against each other.
“These sorts of things, as you refer to them, are our lives, our actions, our circumstances. How can you dismiss them like that? How can you offer them up to the media frenzy and sit back with satisfaction. How can you not care that more and more people are hearing about this? It’s become a farce, not a consequence.”
Her face crumpled and stained with tears, and he went to her and put his arms around her. Though he couldn’t help thinking, yet again, how unattractive she looked when she was crying.
“I didn’t offer anything, and I am not satisfied. It’s just a small part of the course of events, that’s all – one day it will be forgotten.” She sobbed in his arms but was quiet for the rest of the day. He didn’t know if he believed his own words. He wanted to agree with her, but he had to keep up his role as protector, had to sustain the meaning they’d once injected into their relationship in order to make it worthwhile.
Meaning was slipping as fast as time. Any chance of perspective had crumbled a long time ago, perhaps even the day she revealed her proposition, and the day he had complied, eager to please her and longing for an ideal that he foolishly believed was within their grasp. […]
© Rebecca Strong 2007

SHORT STORIES

A Bedtime Story: a little tale of a small boy winding down in preparation for bedtime.

Extract:

The little boy is flagging as the day turns to evening and, outside, streetlamps cast their eerie glow over the icy road.  Still, he wanders a little round the room, thumb persistently in mouth, surveying the familiar faces around him.  Toys, loved and tested, pulled, pushed, hugged, pressed and spun throughout the day lay strewn around the room, anachronistic in the evening light.  He waits expectantly for the familiar call, knowing it must come, but doubting all the same.
But then, there it is, the welcome instruction: “Bathtime!  Let’s go upstairs!”
The thumb promptly drops out, and two eyes shine with glee.  Little legs, suddenly full of energy, propel him towards the stair-gateway to the land of ‘Upstairs’.  He toddles through, pulling the stairgate shut firmly behind him and closing himself off from the day.
On to the stairs, a mountain to climb.  Slowly, then quickly, then slowly again, he crawls up pausing only to entice his followers to chase him.  With a giggle he reaches the summit, pulls himself up against the wall and dashes into the bathroom to peer into the tub.  The water is running, all set to go. […]
© Rebecca Strong 2010
First published in the NCT Magazine, Small Talk, Spring 2010

8 Rooms - features Expecting, a short story by Rebecca Strong

8 Rooms - features Expecting, a short story by Rebecca Strong

Expecting, published in the collection Eight Rooms by Legend Press in April 2009.

The premise of the collection is that each of the eight stories is set within one ‘room’, the definition of which is open to interpretation.
My story, Expecting, follows an unborn child in the womb, right from conception.  The story is fictional, but my imaginings of just how much such a baby might absorb and feel come from a very real place, sitting at home trying to balance my laptop in front of a huge bump with an 8-month old baby prodding my stomach as I wrote.  Feeling a little life inside you - especially one who is almost ready to emerge - is amazing, and I was inspired by the behaviour my baby was already displaying.  He would respond to certain sounds, was comforted by voices, became active when I was in the car etc.  At the time I had no idea who he was - not even that he was a boy - but perhaps during those 9 months he came to know a lot about me.  I wondered just how much he was aware of the world he was about to enter, or, more importantly, the people he was about to entrust his care to.

Reviews of Eight Rooms:

Amazon review

More about Eight Rooms including a blog by me can be found here

Extract from Expecting:

It all started a few months ago.  For a long time - in fact, for all the time that preceded – I had no thoughts at all.  And then, in the darkness, a whisper of a thought sparked and I was moving, on a wave, further into what now seems like eternity.  Something carried me beyond any control I could conceive: air, wind, liquid, and motion, colluded to push me where they wanted me to go.  Aside from these factors, these natural conspirators, nothing, and no one, was aware that I was here.
I heard, and felt, and saw nothing.  No conscious thought had yet invaded me, but from within this nothingness, I knew what I must do.  That has been my mantra: if I am here, ipso facto, I know what to do.  I floated, for a while, deciding what to become, or indeed, whether to become at all.  Never in my fleeting life had I had so much power, and never shall I again.
I was intrigued as to where this was going, so I took the plunge, and before long I was stuck fast, stuck to a surface that in time I came to both love and hate.  I waited, confused and immature, to see what would happen next.  There was, and remains, only me in this environment, this chamber that I am magnificently affecting.  It was dark but expansive, yet I remained bound, and after a while the immobility became a comfort.  I christened myself “I”, for then I became. […]
© Rebecca Strong 2009

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