Here Casts No Shadow is published by Matador. It is available in bookshops, through Troubador or as an e-book/paperback through Amazon.
‘Beautifully and powerfully written, the story captures the unique and yet ubiquitous experience of displaced people – the sense of tragedy of a country lost to madness, the aching for home.’
(Ingenue Magazine, Autumn 2018)
Here Casts No Shadow explores the impact of war, exile and trauma on a family and the devastating result of a single act of revenge.
Fifteen-year old Mira has grown up in Lyrian. The country has been under the grip of a dictator for many years but when everything explodes around her, she and her family are forced to flee to a refugee camp across the border. Eventually they settle in Neeland, thousands of miles from home, but now, in adult life, as Mira’s father begins to fail in hospital, her past secrets threaten to destroy the life she has built for herself. Will her older brother Kaz reveal everything and if he does, will Mira be outcast for ever?
More on Here Casts No Shadow below.
My other published books are: A Bird in the House, 2014
And Not Here Not Us – stories of Syria, 2016
Extracts from Here Casts No Shadow
“I’m in my apartment overlooking the square, watching the snow fall. The snow is like stars, you once said. Not stars, but birds, I argued; tiny flying birds. You were so impatient that day. Do you remember? You kept asking me when the snow would come. ‘Will it be like a fairy tale? How many days will it snow?’ You wouldn’t stop. You were like that. A chatterer. Always asking questions. I never imagined a time when you wouldn’t talk at all.”
“A sudden blast. The ground shaking under our feet. A woman screamed and the crowd surged forward. Instinctively I crouched, taking Pearl with me. It had been a mistake coming here. The president would never allow something like this. Now it was too late. ‘Look at the monster, Mira, the fire coming out of it.’ The tank had gained on us. It was less than fifty metres away, cutting us off from the road that led back to our house. Staying where we were wasn’t an option but I couldn’t decide which way to go: towards the breaking crowd or to the right where a row of thin trees stood out against the white snow. We had nothing to fear. We were just two girls.”
“I stare out of the window willing clouds to gather, flakes of snow to fall. This city is happier in the snow. The hard edges of the buildings soften and children in bright jackets rush out with their sledges.
‘Do you remember the day it snowed, the day we went to the square? The sky was silver and grey, the edges yellow like old paper. You were so excited when the first flakes came down.’ I pause. ‘Oh, I’m talking about the past again. Like an old woman.’
Pearl smiles, her anger at Kaz already gone. ‘There’s a lot I don’t remember. Maybe I avoid it. But I do remember that day. How could I forget? The flakes looked like tiny white stars.’ She takes a bite of the biscuit. More crumbs fall onto the table. She wipes them up and drops them onto the tin. ‘We should never have gone to the square,’ I say. ‘I shouldn’t have allowed you to come. It was reckless.’
‘No one blames you, least of all me. I don’t know why you should think that. You were the one who suffered most that day. Kaz and Tam were just as much to blame …’
‘Kaz blames himself.’
‘We all make mistakes.’ Pearl’s voice falters, then she frowns and runs her hands through her hair again.
The church clock in the square chimes the half hour. ‘I don’t think you really understand quite how much the war broke him.’
‘There’s no need to labour the point, Mira. It’s the same for every man who goes to war. War is what it is, and men are always at war somewhere.’”