It’s been a busy week for writing. The highlight was the release of the #VSS365 Anthology: Volume One, edited by Mark King and with around 400 contributions by members of the Twitter writing community, including a couple of pieces by myself. Royalties from the charity go to The Book Bus, a children’s literacy charity. If you enjoy tiny stories, I hope you’ll consider buying the book.
I’ve also released A Friendly Rivalry, a short story set in the world of my A Quiet Rebellion books. It features Emily and Martha, two domestic staff who have minor appearances throughout the trilogy, and it’s set a couple of decades before A Quiet Rebellion: Guilt. A Friendly Rivalry is so short that I’m not going to post an extract, but here are a few snippets from the novels, so you can see the roles the two women play.
In A Quiet Rebellion: Guilt we meet Emily for the first time when Jonathan (who has been on convoy duties) finally returns to his barracks quarters.
A short, skinny woman in the dark grey dress of the housekeeping staff entered, a ring of keys on a chain at her waist.
“Nice to see you back, Captain.” Her weathered face bore a smile. She started to pick up his laundry and toss it into a trolley in the corridor. “I’ve been airing out your room once a week and keeping the spiders away.” She paused to examine a pair of trousers. “What have you been sitting on? No, don’t tell me, you’ll put me off my tea. I’ll see if I can take that stain out.”
In A Quiet Rebellion: Restitution, Jonathan’s in a spot of bother. After he flees the city, his enemy (Silvers) orders his belongings to be impounded. Emily’s not so convinced.
Emily, neat in her housekeepers’ dress, stood with hands on hips. She glared at a guard who held a pair of dark grey trousers. “I don’t care what Scientist Silvers says about it. Uniforms are Crown property. If you disagree with me, young man, feel free to do your own laundry from now on!”
We meet Martha for the first time in A Quiet Rebellion: Restitution. Even after Artur returns from a disastrous blimp trip with Eleanor (the queen), Martha acts with her usual aplomb.
Further along the hallway, the housekeeper snoozed in a comfy chair, her stockinged feet on a footstool.
“Martha,” called Eleanor as they approached. “We’re back.”
The woman’s eyes popped open, and she beamed at them. “I do hope you had a nice time with your young man.” She stood and pushed her feet into slippers. “What would you like first? Bath? Supper?”
Artur found himself led into a bathing room, disrobed, and whisked into a hot bath, though thankfully Eleanor had disappeared in some other direction. His skin reddened as the elderly housekeeper poured jugs of water over his head. Was this how royalty lived? Always attended, even while performing ablutions? Not to mention during more intimate—
When she advanced on him with a sponge, he grabbed her hand. “I can manage that myself. Thank you. Could you wait outside, please?”
In A Quiet Rebellion: Posterity, inexperienced captain Lester is jittery enough about meeting the queen without Martha contributing to his anxiety.
At the top of the second flight, Martha halted and wagged a finger at him. “Ah! I knew I’d seen you somewhere before. I’d recognise that cheeky smile anywhere.”
“Sure, I visited just a couple of days—”
“No, it was several years ago.” She tapped her chin. “Weren’t you working in… The King’s Pleasure?”
Martha winked. “But we won’t mention that to Eleanor. She’s such an innocent.”
That’s all from me for the moment—now off to work out how to get someone out of jail 😉