Read an extract from one of Jane’s latest writing projects here.
I Stopped Time
Turn of the century Brighton. A wide-eyed girl enters Mr Parker’s photographic studio and receives her first lesson about the rising medium that is to shape her life: “Can you think of a really good memory? Perhaps you can see it when you close your eyes. Now think how much better it would be if you could take it out and look at whenever you wanted to!”
2009: Disgraced politician Sir James Hastings has resigned himself to living out his retirement in a secluded Surrey village. He doesn’t react when he learns that the mother who had abandoned him dies at the age of 108: he imagined she had died many years ago. Brought up by his father, a charismatic war-hero turned racing driver, the young James, torn between blaming himself and longing, eventually dismissed her as the ‘villain’ of his childhood. But, when he inherits her life’s work – a photography collection spanning over six decades – he is forced to both confront his past and re-evaluate what he wants from his old age. Assisted by student Jenny Jones, who has recently lost her own mother to cancer, Sir James is persuaded to look at the photographs as if he is seeing through his mother’s eyes, only to discover an extraordinary tale of courage and sacrifice.
“Three. I have three stories,” Lottie Parker tells her solicitor while putting her affairs in order. “But it was Oscar Wilde who said that a story is almost certainly a lie.”
I grew up motherless. That is not to say my mother was dead. ‘Conspicuous by her absence’
was the phrase I heard my father use, as I listened at keyholes in hope of answers. Theirs
was a lengthy marriage. The fact that she chose to take no part in it didn’t detract from his
sense that she was his wife. Yes, he had frequent lady friends, perfumed and interchangeable,
but none that replaced her. My mother remained the love of his life – except, that is, for his
racing cars, an open stretch of road and, of course, the lure of speed.
These Fragile Things
The Eighties was proving a fertile decade for Marian visionaries.
Between 1981 and 1982, Our Lady appeared to a number of college students in Kibeho, south-western Rwanda, showing them rivers of blood later recognised as the foretelling of genocide.
At the same time, she was making daily appearances to six Herzegovinian Croat children, drawing thousands of pilgrims to Medugorje, a place barely on the map.
Although attracting devotees from fifty countries, reports of Our Lady of Surbiton appearing daily to Mrs de Menezes and declaring all aborted babies martyrs were flatly rejected by the Vatican as fraud.
And close by, in Streatham – still reeling from the Brixton Riots – a series of events is about to be set in motion that will change the lives of fourteen-year old Judy Jones and her family forever.
Delusion, deception, diabolic…or is it possible that her apparitions are authentic? You decide.
With growing unease, Elaine put the telephone receiver back in its cradle. Opening the front door, she stepped into the porch, absorbing the wail of sirens that passes for birdsong in a London suburb. It had only been a small white lie: something to put her husband’s mind at rest.
“Oh, you know. Buried in her homework.”
Their daughter had been doing her homework – would have finished it by now – but for the small matter of the postage stamps. And, together with toilet roll, stamps were one of the few things Elaine hated to run out of.
A Funeral for an Owl
Things have changed since Jim Stevens first chose to teach. Rules designed for the protection of children now make all relationships outside the classroom, even those that might benefit a student, taboo. So, what kind of boy might be the one to cause Jim and his colleague Ayisha to put everything on the line? And where will it end?
Hands sliding down the gun-grey stair rail, Ayisha – known to her pupils as Miss Emmanuel – is cursing her choice of footwear, when the thunder of surging bodies drowns their staccato clipping.
“Slow down, Nathan!” she raises her voice, naming the first face that spins into view. Referred to in the staff room as ‘But Nathan’, this boy has a pre-prepared excuse for everything. “There’s no need to cause a stampede. I don’t care if it is the last day of term.”