Less than two weeks from today, Walker Books will be publishing Celine Kiernan's new novel, Into the Grey: a ghost story about two twins who spend a spine-tingling winter in a cottage on the coast after their nan burns the family home down to the ground.
I'll be reviewing Into the Grey in due course, of course. For now, it gives me great pleasure to begin a big ol' blog tour in support of the book.
If the truth be told, I don't often participate in such things, but this is a blog tour with a difference. I'm going to let Celine tell you why:
"The book has quite a few chills, there's quite a bit of political history in it, much exploration of death and loss—but there’s also a lot of love and kindness in it, a fair few laughs and a lot of bravery. I thought I’d have a bit of fun with that side of the book on this blog tour, so these posts will be all about music! Why certain songs feature in the story, what they mean to me, what memories are associated with them, etc. Into the Grey is set in the Irish seaside town of Skerries in 1974, all the songs featured are evocative to me of both that time and that (very real) place. As you will see, they all speak very much to the story, too, and to the characters and the rather desperate situation with which they find themselves entwined."
Now not only do I have a sneak peek at a scene from the book for you: it's a scene you won't find anywhere else. A deleted scene, indeed!
First, an introduction to the passage:
There’s a lot about family in this book. About how they can support you, about how they can let you down. About how sometimes you have to survive without them, and sometimes they’re the only thing that gets you through. In the original version there was a chapter which detailed Dom & Pat’s brief stay at their cousins’ house—this section is from that chapter. Just for the record, I do have a cousin Stella. In our teen-hood I worshipped and adored her (still do!) and I could not resist giving her this little cameo. The cameo may well be gone, but Stella is still very much ‘my fantastic, gorgeous, smart and funny cousin.’ There seems no better song in the world to describe her than The Doors’ ‘Love Her Madly.’And a lovely song it is:
Without further ado, then, here's the scene itself:
‘Pat?’ She crouched down, and placed a steaming mug of tea by my nose. Just the embroidered hems of her flares and her Indian sandals were visible from the smelly cave of the sleeping bag, but I’d have know that smiling, smoke-husky voice anywhere: Stella, my fantastic, gorgeous, smart and funny cousin. I loved her to bits. She was just the best thing since sliced bread.
I heaved myself into a sitting position, my head still wrapped in the sleeping bag. ‘Where’s Dom?’ I managed.
Stella laughed her throaty laugh. ‘He’s in the bath. Everyone else is gone to school or work.’
She disappeared into the kitchen and began pottering about. Soon I smelled batch bread toasting and eggs frying. The radio was playing low and tinny on the kitchen windowsill. The Doors were asking, did we love her madly? Stella called through the door, ‘Your Mam and Dad will be running around for most of the day. Everyone thought you two’d be better off having a sleep-in.’
Short... but sweet, wouldn't you agree?
Thank you kindly for sharing, Celine.
Before I say good day, more neat news: I've gotten my grubby Scotch paws on a single finished edition of Into the Grey to give away. If you're based in the UK and you can tell me which seaside town the story's set in—you should already know if you've read this post—tweet your answers @niallalot or email them to thespeculativescotsman [at] gmail [dot] com, and I'll pick a winner next week.
Meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend under the summer sun!