Hi, B. Snow here, with an excerpt from “A Cunning Plan”.
Full disclosure – I’m not British, Irish or Scottish. I’ve visited the UK twice, probably for less than two weeks total, and yet I have the audacity to write a Regency novella. English (and Irish and Scottish, no doubt) writers have something in their writing; some way of using language that I don’t, and see, I can’t even explain why that is, either because I’m American or, more likely, because I just don’t write that nicely.
(view towards Peterborough, from the web)
So I’m very happy that Carrying the Torch is open to everyone. My story is a Work In Progress, and I’ve set it near Peterborough simply because that was one of the days still available for CtT. Quite honestly, this story could be set anywhere in England that is a few hours away from London and has some woods, a lake, and a fox.
I’m sure I’m over-romanticizing the English countryside – blame it on reading “The Secret Garden” as a child. And blame my fondness for England on Agatha Christie and Monty Python during my formative years. (Note: author is not responsible for heads exploding from seeing those two names in the same sentence.) Other culprits were Fawlty Towers, AbFab, PG Wodehouse, and of course, the big one, Harry Potter, whose
seekrit lover arch-nemesis Snape is probably the whole reason I got into writing in the first place.
“A Cunning Plan” isn’t going to have that indescribable “Britishness”, but I hope you still like the following excerpt, in which our hero, Alec, has drunkenly stumbled down to the lake and has been reminiscing about simpler times.
Now, as Alec leaned against the trunk of a tree, he could almost pretend that he was ten again, at the lake with Hugh on a summer night. He kept still, watching deer approach the water, their delicate hooves making almost no sound. Brown rabbits hopped forward to drink, then chased each other away. And finally, a fox arrived.
Just like the foxes of his childhood, the creature moved as if it knew Alec was there, looking left and right until it found him. It couldn’t possibly have been the same animal that had frightened the boys so long ago, but just like that fox, this one sat, keeping its eyes on Alec, who had the feeling that the animal disapproved of his obviously drunken state.
Alec couldn’t blame the fox. He wasn’t a ten year-old boy, he was a twenty eight year-old man, sitting under a tree at night in the middle of winter, shivering, pouring bad sherry down his throat, feeling his trousers becoming more damp and cold by the minute. He realized that a frightening fox and rumours of a wild boy, both of which had given him nightmares as a child, would be bliss compared to the muddle that his life had become.
If he had to be mad, why couldn’t it be the sort of madness that usually ran in titled families? Nearly every boy at Alec’s school had had a story of an aunt who spoke to the paintings on the walls or a grandfather who ran naked through their village at regular intervals. But Alec knew that his madness was darker and more dangerous, and not just to himself. The only way he had found to contain it was to avoid people and to drink copious amounts of liquor.
He had started with a glass of brandy before bed to quiet the demons that crawled through his mind in the darkness. Then two glasses of wine with supper, a sherry in the afternoon, ale at dinner. After his father died and he became the new Earl of Whittlesey, he gave up everything but the occasional brandy, but only until Hugh had finished his schooling. From that point on, Alec transferred more and more of his responsibilities to his younger brother and no longer limited his drinking to mealtimes.
On the one hand, the mildly drunken haze he had lived in for the past four years acted as a shield from the madness that threatened to take him over. On the other hand, he hated himself for abandoning his responsibilities, for taking the coward’s way out by withdrawing from the world and crawling into a bottle. If he had any honour at all, one ounce of courage, he would have dealt with the matter long ago.
Well. Better late than never.
You can find B. Snow’s insane rantings, vocabulary words used in a serial, and a contemporary free read at