I’m currently working on a Young Adult set in a city loosely inspired by early twentieth century Glasgow. I won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award 2015 for this, and you can see a short extract from early on in the story below.
You can see full details of my academic publications over on my staff profile page at the University of Stirling. There’s also an overview of my research here. I also write Central Belt Shuffle, a blog about commuting.
The rope came slithering down, and jumped once, twice, three times.
‘All clear. Aly, on ye go.’ The man tied the rope around her middle. He nodded at her. ‘Keep movin. Yer eye will ken where yer next hold is.’
Aly set off up the building, following Murdo’s route through the dark night to the top. She found footholds in the ironwork, and crannies for her fingers on the ears and lips of the statues. Her body warmed to this new movement, as she stretched and levered herself upward.
After five minutes, she reached the final plinth. Murdo was waiting, sitting astride the statue, his hand extended to her. ‘Naw bad for a beginner,’ he said as he pulled her up. ‘And how do ye like ma hippocamp?’
‘Hippocamp. A sea horse. Look.’ From inside his tunic, he took out a small metal tube. ‘Ah’ll show ye wi ma flashlight.’ He pressed a switch on the tube. A dull beam of light came out of one end.
‘What’s that?’ asked Aly.
‘Electricity in a tube. Very useful for explorin the heights.’
‘Aye, right enough. Show me this sea horse then.’
Murdo shone the flashlight on the statue. A horse’s head, proudly pointing westwards. The body of a fish, with a long tail of a thousand scales. Wings of a dragon. The rope she had climbed up with was looped around its neck.
‘Naw bad. What’s it for?’
‘This is the fish merchants’ buildin. Ye can smell it, naw?’
‘Aye. It’s makin me hungry. Let’s get on wi the metallin then.’
With the flashlight, they soon found their way to the metals, and pulled off all the strips they could carry. ‘There’s good pickin here,’ said Aly, her eyes large with their findings, and her stomach with the fish suppers they would equal once they’d sold it.
‘That’s enough,’ said Murdo. We should get down now. It’s best not to take too much at once.’
They tied their findings to the rope, and gently lowered them to the men waiting below. ‘Right, Aly, get down sharpish. Ah’ll just stable my hippocamp. Gi the rope a tug when yer done and ah’ll follow.’
Aly began her climb down, feeling more than seeing her way to the top of the ladder. She glanced back up at the boy above her, balanced on the hippocamp’s back, his white face distinct against his black hair and the dark sky.