Welcome Vanessa De Sade to the blog, with her YA book…maybe a first for my blog!
One of the things that I love most about the internet is that no matter what word you’re looking for someone somewhere will have invented it. And, if it actually doesn’t exist, you can invent it yourself and post it in some dictionary, making it official. So, darlings, it seems that I’m a Hasbian. Or, in other words, someone who used to do “it” with girls but doesn’t any more.
Isn’t it good to have a label?
So, why the change I hear you ask, hoping for some smutty revelation from the House of De Sade. Well, there wasn’t really one at all, actually, I was always attracted to the male anatomy, it was just teenage and twenty-something boys I couldn’t stand. (I still can’t!) Blustering, bullying, insensitive morons that they were, I couldn’t believe that the universal force that created us could have put something as exciting as a cock into the charge of such incompetents.
So I turned to girls, starting with a tempestuous affair with my best friend on a caravan holiday and then moving on to pastures new when she dumped me for a rugby player. And it would be many years before I finally let my guard down and allowed myself to trust a man enough to be intimate with him. Then the rest, as they say, was history…
So, bearing all this confessional stuff in mind, this seems like as good a time as any to talk about my first foray into the world of the YA novelette, a tender and bitter-sweet lesbian romance called The House at Ghost Elm Sands.
I set myself a high target for this one, because I wanted to try and capture that all-encompassing feeling of arousal that adolescents experience, coupled with the utter confusion of what’s happening to their bodies whilst trying to cope with day to day emotions at the same time. Plus, of course, because it’s a YA, I couldn’t indulge in overt sexual imagery, actual sex or profanity. And also because my heroine is only thirteen, and she wouldn’t – hopefully – be doing any of those things anyway, so I had to convey all that eroticism with atmosphere and subtext. (Hark at her, thinking she’s up for the Booker Prize!)
Anyway, it’s something very different from me, and I hope it will be the first of many. It’s available in paperback if you’re looking for a gift for a young teen or if you just feel like reliving your own lost youth. (Oh, and even if I do say it myself as what shouldn’t, it has one of the sexiest Lesbian kisses ever written.)
So, here’s a little excerpt as my gift to you all and thanks to the lovely Victoria for having me here. (Not in the biblical sense, you understand, more’s the pity.)
And yet I sensed another human presence, another beating heart calling out to me in the chilly dawn with its soaring sea birds. There was an ancient pair of binoculars on the window sill and I slipped them out of their worn old leather case and scanned the horizon like Jack Hawkins in the old Ealing war movie I had watched with Twinkle and the old ladies downstairs last night, all of us huddled together on the sofa as the sea-caressed strands of driftwood in the tiny fire quickly burnt themselves to ashes in the hearth and crumbled to nothingness. But there was no-one to be seen, not even the distant figures of village boys risking my grandmother’s wrath and digging for sand worms on her foreshore, and I was about to put the old field glasses down when a sudden flash of scarlet caught my gaze.
I wiped my eyes and looked again, thinking that I must be mistaken, but no, there, there on the distant horizon coming up from the retreating ocean like a mermaid becalmed on sea-slicked rocks, was a thin girl in a bright red bathing costume waving to me, her long white legs leaving a silvery trail of footprints in the rippled mud and sand.
And I wanted to call back to her but feared waking the whole household – even Twinkle had not yet risen to riddle out the still-warm ashes from the Aga and pile in the new wood for a fresh day’s fire – so I quickly wrapped my dressing gown around myself and ran barefoot down the stairs and out of the heavy stained-glass-inlayed front door and onto the shimmering beach beyond.
And I couldn’t locate her at first and felt a blind panic sweep over me, but suddenly, just as I was about to dismiss her existence as yet another ghostly apparition, my eye caught a flash of red on the horizon and I ran out to meet her, the wet shore icy under my uncovered feet, quickly turning them a deathly corpse-pallor blue as I splashed across the glistening sand ribs and the sun began to rise and coat the deserted beach with a cautious warmth.
“Hello, you there, hello!” I called, waving frantically and suddenly feeling stupid. “Are you alright, are you lost, do you need help?”
She looked up from studying the swirls at her feet and met my gaze, her eyes at first cloudy blue then milky white, opalescent aquatic gem stones that had seen far too many sad sights for her scant years, astoundingly beautiful and yet so, so melancholy. Her body was tall and thin, skin white as a sea-bleached bone, her hair, probably chestnut when dry, hung wet and slicked to her shoulders, undulating from the inky-black tones of long-dried blood to verdigrised bronze in the cautious early sunlight. And, though she wore the crimson swimsuit boldly, it was as if she was naked standing there on the mud flats, a dead girl from the deeps seeking to lure an unsuspecting traveller to her watery lair like in all those legends of the Hooghly that my ayah used to recount and scare the living daylights out of me as we sat together drinking cups of sweet tea before bed.
The girl looked back at me and smiled.
“No, I’m quite alright, thanks. But I was beginning to think that there was no-one like you left in the whole known universe any more.”
“You know, alive,” she said with a sad laugh, “I’ve been dying of loneliness out here by myself…”
The House at Ghost Elm Sands by Vanessa de Sade. £3.99 in paperback and £1.99