...Christine Hornsby who is here today to interview her character, Bethany, from her wonderful story Kindred Spirits
CH Bethany, I followed your teenage love affair with interest but, from an early age, you clearly loathed, Daniel with a vengeance.
Bethany I did. I thought he was arrogant and patronising. In short, a schmuck! To my shame, I remember referring to him as having been spawned by something that crawled out of a swamp. A spawned geek with half a brain.
CH So why a complete change of heart? Was there a seismic, earth shattering moment when you saw him in a different light or did he grow on you?
Bethany The former. It was when the whale beached. We met purely by chance. I think. We both stood there feeling something akin to grief. It was heart-wrenching seeing the whale dying and then there was nothing we could do about it. Daniel was looking out to sea. I pretended it was the cold wind that made my eyes water, but I knew he was hurting too. In a strange way, we connected. His good looks, his physique and all that has always made him popular with the girls but, call me weird, I’d never been particularly impressed with those. His arrogance had always put me off but, at that moment, I realised that was a sort of mask. I suppose I saw his sensitivity and vulnerability. I liked that. Suddenly he seemed human.
CH You come across as being a sporty type, not interested in girly things – and, I might add – too straight talking for your own good. Would that be a fair assessment of your character?
Bethany Absolutely! I suppose I had to learn, didn’t I? And my poor mother bore the brunt of it really. Our relationship was fraught to say the least. Still, many teenage girls don’t get on with their mothers. It’s normal. I used to think we could do with a psychiatrist, a counsellor or someone to unravel the problems, though.
CH Hmm. But you could just as easily have fallen out with Veronica! Now there was a feisty character if ever there was one! Your tantrums didn’t wash with her, did they?
Bethany You can say that again! She always told me top wake up and smell the coffee, as they say! And I did!
CH And what about, Daniel? I felt for him when you ‘went off on one’ after you told him about your ghost! I mean, how did you expect him to react? If you’ll excuse the pun, you didn’t give him a ghost of a chance!
Bethany Ah yes, my ghost. Wasn’t that something? And yes, like I said, ‘I had a lot to learn.’ It was difficult. I was obsessed, I suppose. It was a lonely journey. There was a kind of force working in and outside of me if you know what I mean? Something or someone else was in the driving seat. I was left wondering about the possibility of an alternative world only seen and understood by a select few – and I was one of them. I had no choice but to go along with it.
CH Deceiving your mother in the bargain!
Bethany Yes, especially my mother. And that taught me how important it is for people to feel they can talk to one another openly without stress. I could never talk to her, so guilt came into it, big time, and I hated that.
CH Yes, I remember when you came downstairs to put the barrel back in the cabinet, hoping your mother wouldn’t notice that you had taken it.
Bethany I do. It was the cauliflower that got me. I saw it out of the corner of my eye. Its shape took on the image of a face. Sitting there on the kitchen table with its high cheek bones, it was sort of accusing me. I had never felt so guilty.
CH Yes, and I think that guilt came out in your writing. At least you could be honest with yourself there.
Bethany That’s true. Especially when I tried to express my romantic and sexual feelings towards. Daniel. I felt son confused, so alone. I wanted to shout my love from the rooftops and yet, like the old song says, ‘they try to tell you you’re too young, too young to really be in love.’ I suppose you think that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Well, it was my reality.
|The east coast, where Kindred Spirits is set|
CH And how about fear? Did you ever have an adrenalin rush when you were scared?
Bethany You bet I did. On the headland in the make-shift lean to. Daniel told me about the Alphonse wandering about the moors with his eyes torn out by the hawks and the sockets full of maggots. And then in the real world, two legs emerged out of the sea fret and a bunch of dead rabbits were dumped in my lap. Oh yes, I was scared all right!
CH Finally, Bethany, was there ever a moment, a poignant moment, that spoke to you in a very special way?
Bethany There was. My mother had been so worried and I knew she was concerned about me and Daniel spending the night on the moors together. I knew I would have some explaining to do. For most of the journey home neither of us had spoken. Even so, I was sitting in the backseat of the car with my ankle resting across her knee. She suddenly started fingering the travel rug. The years melted away. Mum was tucking me in just as I remembered her doing when I was a little girl. I seemed to have a Eureka moment. Suddenly, I understood the real meaning of unconditional love and I knew everything was going to be OK.