Wednesday 2 December 2015

Day 2: Undertow by Clare Weze

What gave you the idea for your Snowflakes story?
The idea has been swilling in my mind since travelling across the States on a Greyhound at the age of nineteen. There was something about that California setting that sparked those characters, and the events in the story played in my mind very visually, like a slow film. I often take places or events from my own life and people them with different characters.

How would you describe your normal style of writing?
Literary. I try to build characters subtly, and I like to use sharp, succinct detail. I often start with odds and ends of situations or snippets of conversation, then work them together, like a patchwork quilt.

Have you published other material?
I’ve published stories in three other anthologies.
Two can be found here:
and one is in press. I’m working on a novel and a children’s book, but there are always short stories on the go.

Do you have a writing routine?
At the end of each writing bout I leave continuity notes for myself, including a list of easy jobs to do to get started next time. These might entail editing a paragraph that’s fresh in my mind from the previous day, or researching something online.

Do you have a favourite place for writing?
Train journeys bear most fruit, but at home, it’s the dining-room table.

Tell something quirky about you.
I love hares. A large one visited our garden the night before my (milestone) birthday last year. It came right up to the sitting-room window, stared at us, then loped away. I like to think it was just saying ‘happy birthday’ - a once-in-a-lifetime event.

An extract from Undertow 

“Dead, huh?” As opening lines went, Huey’s surely couldn’t be beaten, and as she turned around his hunch was proved right; she was Japanese: the slight frame, the jet waterfall hair, the exquisite neatness of the foot next to the two fish.

“Yup. Poor things.” The wind took the end of her words—with their British accent—as if what was about to happen to him came in a squall from the sea, was already known deep under that water.
Huey always came to the shore at this bearable hour with families gone and the barbecue hardcore not yet begun. He’d found her watching the waves break out of the black water in just the place where he liked to stand and do the same thing. He wanted to laugh.
Instead, he focused on the fish: jellied around the gills but no sign of bloat yet. “A pair. Makes you think they must be family.”
She smiled at him. Her long hair coiled around itself in the wind, and with her skirt clinging to her legs, the mermaid silhouette was right there. If not for the fish, those might even have been his first words to her: You look like a mermaid. His mermaid. And then the small talk he’d prepared surged out automatically, no problem, smooth as chocolate and no mention of mermaids.
She listened and laughed in all the right places. Then she said, in her beautiful voice, “You really live here?”
Huey nodded slowly, squinting at the headland.
Oh, it’s so beautiful.” Her smile was wide open, couldn’t fail to reassure, but it toppled his nerve. He filled his lungs, seeking calm, and for the first time caught the smell of the fish. Tar, too, from somewhere close by.
He took her for a coffee at Carido’s on the boardwalk. They chatted easily. There were always music interests, but he didn’t need to fall back on those; they just got along. Josh, her traveling companion, had gone on to Vegas, but Rina, almost out of money, was headed back to New York on the Greyhound, then home to England. Rina. He ran her name around his mind, feeling its angles, relishing the shapes it would make of his lips when he spoke it.


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