As I’ve mentioned before, I was lucky enough to have one of my short stories, Ascension, selected by Sacchi Green for inclusion in Cleis Press’s BLE 2016 anthology, which is now available for pre-order and purchase. This post is my stop on the blog tour for this release. Check out Sacchi’s introduction post for links to the other stops.
Comment on any of these posts for a chance to win a free copy of Best Lesbian Erotica 20th Anniversary Edition. The drawing will be held by February 28th and the winner announced by March 5th.
My writing tends to reflect whatever I’m interested in at the time, and that’s definitely true of this one. Ascension is set in Liverpool in the early 1960s, when the Mersey Beat scene was just taking off. That was the scene that produced The Beatles, but this story was the result of my contemplating a different question: what might have happened if The Beatles hadn’t existed — or rather, if they hadn’t been four lads from Liverpool? How would things have been different if the big emerging talent in Liverpool had been girls instead?
I really enjoyed playing with the vivid, gritty setting of the north of England in the early 60s. Anyone familiar with the Beatles mythology will know that they were once what were called “Teddy Boys” — sort of a British answer to the American greaser movement. What sparked this story in the first place was something I read about how Teddy Boys were matched by gangs of Teddy Girls, an amazing subculture that’s been unfairly forgotten when it’s so damn interesting. Cat, in my story, is a hardcore Teddy Girl. Annie is quite her opposite, a hardworking schoolgirl who mostly does what she’s told, but there’s a core of steel in her that calls to Cat. There’s definitely a bit of a Lennon-McCartney tribute in them. Here’s an excerpt.
It wasn’t safe around those parts for a girl on her own, Cat said. Annie, trotting to keep pace in her buckled school shoes and pleated skirt, refrained from pointing out the obvious. It was quite clear what Cat meant.
She said her name was Catherine, but she said it with a sneer that made the word stupid, ill-fitting to this slim-hipped creature with her fine long nose and russet-coloured hair, her man’s shirt and imposing boots. Her long eyes were an exact match to her hair, and carefully lined. Annie’s fingers ached to draw her.
“What were you doing there?” Annie asked, feeling daring.
Cat laughed and said, “Waiting for my band.”
“Your band?” Despite herself, Annie slowed, watching Cat carefully.
Cat shrugged, a loose jerk of her shoulder. “Aye, but they never showed, did they?” She snorted. “Crap, really, the lot of ’em. I’ve got half a mind to ditch them for someone who can actually bleedin’ play a guitar.”
The words made their way out of Annie’s mouth unbidden, on the back of a strange clenching in her chest, an unfamiliar rush of eagerness. “I can play a guitar,” she said. “I’m good,” she added. Her mother had always warned against false modesty.
Cat snorted, not even a pause for thought. “You’re kidding, aren’t you?”
Annie frowned. “Why?” A moment ago, she had been wondering what had possessed her, but Cat’s immediate dismissal stirred a defensive contrariness in her.
“Well,” Cat said, and stopped walking, one corner of her mouth quirking up in a smile. Her hands were in her pockets, where her jeans were stretched so tight over her hips that the lines of her individual fingers showed through the fabric.
“You’re like a bleedin’ choirgirl, love. What’s your name?”
Annie frowned. “Anne-Marie. But just Annie, really.”
“Well, ‘just Annie, really’,” said Cat, in an infuriatingly reasonable tone, “You’re hardly the sort, are you? Even if you can play the guitar, what’ll the lads make of this? You’ll be crying over your poor virgin honor, darling.” Cat reached out, caught at the hem of Annie’s skirt with finger and thumb. Annie jerked, and Cat grinned as if validated, taking her hand back. Her fingers brushed the soft skin on the inside of Annie’s knee as she withdrew, and a shiver skittered strangely across the base of Annie’s back.
“I know girls like you,” Cat said. “Bet you do everything mummy says, don’t you?”
“Me mum’s dead,” Annie shot back, snapping, and it was worth it for the look on Cat’s face, the sudden shocked slackness. “And I can play the — the f-fucking guitar, better than you, I bet.”
She turned, primed to leave this strange rude person where she’d found her, but Cat’s arm shot out, hand closing around Annie’s shoulder.
“Show me,” Cat said, soft now.
For some reason it seemed that refusing was not an option.
You can buy Best Lesbian Erotica now from Amazon and other places. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour posts; there are some fantastic stories in this collection. And have a look around my blog, too, if you’re interested! My novella, In Balance With This Life, is released on February 17th.
My recent novel Moonshine is also now available in ebook format.