Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Sally Gardner Teaser

We are lucky to have the brilliance of the author Sally Gardner in a guest spot today.

Perhaps not so in person, but fittingly, here is a sample of Sally Gardner, a sample of the first chapter of 'The Double Shadow' her haunting, moving and compelling new novel.

Sally will feature in the winter edition of Armadillo, coming to a web page near you in a matter of weeks. For now enjoy this sample of her brilliance and then go on out and get the book for yourself and be enthralled ...


Once there was a girl who asked of her reflection, ‘If all I have is fragments of memories and none of them fit together, tell me then, do I exist?’

There was no answer, only the silence of the room and the hum of the green light that oozed from the television in the corner. She had no idea how long she had been standing there, maybe an eternity. Her name, her age, beyond recall. All she knew was there would be no tomorrow if she couldn’t work out the riddle of yesterday. She wondered often if she was going crazy, but it was hard to remember what crazy looked like. In the apartment, on the windowsill before her, lay a dead butterfly. Its wings and its beauty disturbed her. It was familiar, it had an echo of another time.

Softly, she sang a few words, her breath misty on the cold night-time glass, her reflection the only silent proof of her existence.

If you go down in the woods today

You’re sure of a big surprise.

If you go down in the woods today

You’d better go in disguise.

She was certain there were more verses but, like so much, they twinkled on the brink of things lost.

High up in a dark tenement block, the girl looked out of the window to a wasteland. In the middle stood one building. A picture palace. She imagined that once it must have been fabulous, with its mirrored facade built of thousands of reflective squares. How it came to fall into such decay was a mystery. As so much here was. The girl could see that the movie house had three grand silvered steps leading up to diamond-paned glass doors. Now all smeared with the grime of neglect. The place looked haunted, having scared away every other building that might have kept it company, leaving

it isolated. There, at the very edge of the world, the other buildings formed a protective circle, shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, joining with rows of tall houses and one black tower to make an impenetrable wall, a mix of apartment buildings and tenement blocks whose fronts were laced with a spider’s web of fire escapes, water tanks and balconies. Behind this barricade she could see skyscrapers turning their Venetianblinded eyes away. There was no way out. This was landscape with no colour, no trees to break the endless monotony of grainy black and white, just the ever-present eerie hum of the green light. It was this light that, in the darkness, filled her

nightmares. Perhaps it was the sound of crazy, perhaps it was the end. How was she to know?

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