Over the last few weeks I’ve been giving talks for World Book Day and various other occasions (shout out if you were one of the schools I visited! I had some ace questions along the way but do post below if you didn’t get a chance to ask me yours). Anyway I was talking about my books and the process of becoming a writer, and along the way I mentioned that the first story I could remember writing was about witches – only told from the point of view of a factory caretaker called Cardie.
There must have been something serendipitous in the air because a few days later I got a call from my aunt. She was clearing out some boxes from my grandmother’s attic, and she thought that some of them looked like old school books of mine. Could I come and take a look?
I duly went… and among the dusty exercise books and old school reports I found… my original story. The timing is weird because my mum died more than ten years ago, and I thought we had sorted through all the paperwork at the time and thrown most of it away. However this box somehow got moved to my grandparents’ attic and only just surfaced.
So here, for your reading pleasure, is The Witches – a sort of early prequel to A Witch in Winter?!
Points to note:
1) I was 8 years old
2) I clearly don’t know how to spell “rickety”but I DO know how to spell “hysterics”. Odd.
3) My speech punctuation is shaky (I can hear my editor muttering “no change there”)
4) My handwriting is AMAZING – what happened to it? I can barely read my handwriting these days, let alone other people.
5) Please note the artistic swirls to the title font – not dissimilar to A Witch in Winter. I think I may be wasted as a writer and should branch out into being author/illustrator/designer as well.
You can click on it for a larger view, but in case you can’t read the scan (the quality isn’t brilliant) here is the story complete with original spelling – insertions are shown in square brackets.
All the people had gone home from the cooking pot factory and only old Cardie (Mr. Cardinal) the caretaker was left. Up on the gallery he saw a shadowy figure. “Hi” he called gaily thin[k]ing it was a late worker. To his surprise the shadow gave a shrill scream and darted behind the burner. Cardie quickly clambered down the rickity old ladder, forgot about the missing step (about a metre above ground level) and fell giving an agonised yell. He held his breath as the figure crept towards him. Too his surprispise the figure was a young girl…. more frighted of him than he of her. Quickly she bundled him on a trolley and weeled him outside. Once out of the building he gave an unearthly screechowl call and another person… an old one this time [came]. “I have him Mother” she said “Gggood girl” croaked the elder “You did well”…”Bring him to the cave” It was getting late the moon was rising and Cardie was on the point off hysterics. After all it was Hallowe’en.
As soon as he saw the couples cave he new they were wi[t]chs and really did hysterics. The was a fire burning in the middle of the cave and on it was a cauldron. The old witch lifted a ladle off the wall dipped it in the mixture and wafted some steam towards her nose. Cardie saw her back legs turn green and then subside to their normal colour (a mouldy pink). Suddenly she whipped round shrieked “Shorkvadenvoushalae” and forced a ladleful of mixture down Cardies throat. His back legs hunched up and he began to croak.
The cooking pot factory are looking for a new caretaker…. I don’t suppose they know their old one is hopping in the marshes.
Very good *
I am particularly proud of the ending which I think is an artistic triumph in the way it pulls back from Cardie’s point of view to a grimly comic omniscient narrative voice… however I think the witches’ motivation could be worked on a little. It’s not very clear why they want to turn poor Cardie into a frog.
My teacher has written “Very good” and a star on the bottom so it was clearly critically acclaimed.