ShortBookandScribes #BlogTour #GuestPost by Tracey Scott-Townsend @authortrace @Wildpressed #LoveBooksGroupTours
I’m so pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for Sea Babies by Tracey Scott-Townsend today. This is a book that I really like the sound of, the setting in particular appeals to me. Sadly I couldn’t fit in a read of it but I do have a lovely guest post by Tracey about location today. My thanks to Kelly Lacey from Love Books Group Tours for the place on the tour.
Lauren Wilson is travelling by ferry to the Outer Hebrides, about to begin a new job as a social worker. When somebody sits opposite her at the cafeteria table, she refuses to look up, annoyed at having her privacy disturbed. But a hand is pushing a mug of tea towards her, and a livid scar on the back of the hand releases a flood of memories.
Some people believe in the existence of a parallel universe. Does Lauren have a retrospective choice about the outcome of a terrible recent accident, or is it the bearer of that much older scar who has the power to decide what happens to her now?
Location: Sea Babies by Tracey Scott-Townsend
Stornoway to Uig, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides.
From out of town, you keep up a steady fifty miles per hour until you reach a single track road, then you need to drive more slowly. Breathe carefully as you round the tight curves of the mountain roads, playing musical passing places with camper vans, cars and even the occasional foreign coach. The road is too narrow! Concentrate. The sky is impenetrably blue, reflecting in the many lochs which nestle into the curves of the twisting road – sapphire beads threaded through the green, sculpted landscape. Breathe deeply. Breathe in the landscape.
Feel the strength of the wind tugging the car and continue to take the mountain bends slowly. When a car approaches from the opposite direction – sometimes two or three cars or trucks or motorhomes in a row – be the first to pull into a passing-place and let them by. Sometimes when you come around a bend you’ll find a car or van already tucked snugly against the mountainside, waiting for you to crawl past. A long stretch of road follows the curve of a loch, the sky perfectly reflected. Nestled on the banks and spread out along the sweeps of ridged land are the remains of croft houses, broken monuments to the past. Blackhouses. Watch an imagined reel of the lives of people past. Women and men carrying creels of kelp on their backs, nutrients for their ridged potato beds. Peat stacks towering in front of the houses, fuel for the fires. A family huddled together in the smoky darkness of the Blackhouse interior. A life almost of slavery, of early death from overwork – from blackened lungs or from starvation when the potato crop failed. So why do you experience a painful nostalgia? Glancing at the ruined settlements on the banks of the loch you choose to hear the high, fine voices of women singing at their spinning-wheels rather than the pitiful cries of hungry children.
Pass Garrynahine, then Miavaig, then on a downward trajectory around the bottom of Loch Rog.
Look. A heron perched on a rock. There’s another, flying in a straight line towards the opposite bank, legs streaming out behind. Why not pull into a passing place and take it all in? You never knew water could consist of so many colours. The wide-open loch seems alive, jumping with salmon, contained in a grid of enclosures. When you close your eyes for the briefest moment, the inside of your eyelids ripple with those same water-colours.
Start up again and drive through a long, narrow valley. Gleann Bhaltois. The road seems insignificant in this wonder. A peaty burn bubbles alongside the road – a landscape from a folk tale. Open the windows and allow air to tickle your scalp. Fill yourself with oxygen. You feel like a part of Nature.
Out of the valley now, you begin to climb again, up to Timsgarry, (Timsgearraidh) until the single-track road swoops in a downward curve towards the sea. Hold the wheel tightly. This is Ardroil, the place that will become Lauren’s home in Sea Babies. There don’t appear to be any street names, and the houses each bear a plaque showing their number and the name of the township.
Two cottages share a tiny side-road and one of those houses is Lauren’s. The one furthest along, closest to the sea. Tingles shoot up your arms as you steer down the track at crawling pace, feeling like an imposter (in someone else’s novel). You glimpse a face in the window of the first house. Blood roars in your ears.
The cottage is built on a hillock. You need to take a sharp turn into the drive and the gap between the gate posts is narrow. Switch the engine off, double-check the handbrake. Sit in the car a moment, play with the car key in your hand. Smile to yourself. You’re here. Open the car door and feel the fierce breeze tugging at your hair and at your breath. Gulp, taste salt. Stand upright and stretch out your arms. Feel the rush of that same salted air through the sparse scattering of trees that grow close to the cottage. A more insistent roar threads through the intermittent gusts of wind – the voice of the sea.
The sea’s a dim band of silver beyond the sloping fields that curve away from the house. Follow a white track with your eyes and you will pick out another beach-inlet. Sea on two sides. Swivel slightly on your feet, make out a small loch that lies closer to the cottage. Beyond the road winding above you, mountains rise on three sides, blueish in the fading light.
Welcome to Ardroil, Uig, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides: setting for my fifth novel Sea Babies.
Thank you for hosting me on your blog,
No, thank you, Tracey. I love this post. I can imagine those thin, winding roads and that beautiful cottage by the sea. So atmospheric!
Tracey is the author of The Last Time We Saw Marion, Of His Bones, The Eliza Doll and Another Rebecca. Her fifth novel, Sea Babieswill be released on 1stllection, So Fast was published in January 2018.
Tracey is also a visual artist. All her work is inspired by the emotions of her own experiences and perceptions.
Tracey is the mother of four grown-up children and now spends a lot of time travelling in a small camper van with husband Phil and their rescue dogs, Pixie and Luna, gathering her thoughts and writing them down.