Click on the arrow above to listen (In emails: click on the title above)
“Hi, I’m Sheryl Gwyther and I’m reading from my Junior Fiction work-in-progress, FANGUS FEARBOTTOM.”
I crouch on my window sill above the twilight garden. The mango tree branch is a long way off, the garden path a drop below.
Doubt sends a shiver up my spine. I don’t know anyone else who’s tested the Fourth law of the Great Vampyre Reformation of 1812.
Who am I kidding? I’m not testing, I’m about to break the fourth law.
I wriggle the fear from my toes and stare at the rising moon. If the vampyres of old could leap across space, why can’t we?
My puny leg muscles tighten, ready for the launch.
Five … four … three … two … one …
The bedroom door flies open.
‘Stop!’ Mum shrieks.
‘No!’ Dad yells.
I wobble in fright. Then tip forward, clutching at the air. Dad grabs my pyjama shirt and hauls me back inside.
My hearts slides back into place as I straighten my shirt. ‘Phew! Thanks, Dad. I was trying to fly, well, not exactly fly, more like leap. Like the ancient vampyres.’
‘Fan-gus Fear-bottom!’ Dad’s voice wobbles. His face is grey, his moustache droops on either side of his mouth. ‘I’m … I’m … lost for words!’
Mum, unfortunately, has plenty of them. ‘How could you do such a stupid, dangerous thing, Fangus? You know the Fourth Law … You shall not shape-shift nor leap across space. What if the others saw you? They’d report us.’ She’s not talking about our human neighbours. ‘What possessed you to even want to break one of the laws?’
Granny Fearbottom shuffles through the door in her fluffy, bat-face slippers and dressing gown. Batty Bat perches on top of her silver hair. I think Granny must’ve been eavesdropping from the corridor.
She signs out a message with her fingers.
‘What’s she saying, Fangus?’ Dad asks. ‘It’s too fast for us.’
I translate Granny Fearbottom’s flickering fingers. ‘She says I can do it if I really believe in myself. Fly, I think she means. Or leap across space.’
Mum’s face turns red. Granny Fearbottom scuttles back to her bedroom.”
ABOUT SHERYL GWYTHER:
Childhood experiences in north-west Queensland’s dinosaur fossil country inspired my first Junior Fiction adventure novel. Since its publication, I’ve written short stories, magazine articles and plays, and visit schools and libraries promoting writing and books. In 2002, and again in 2009, I received ASA Mentorships and have also benefited from a May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Fellowship.
“My week at a Varuna Masterclass (under Peter Bishop’s direction) rates up there with them. Brilliant experiences!
It was a fantastic opportunity and I learned so much from Peter’s insightful input. He also inspired me to keep going. I’ve never forgotten his wise words about the difference between ‘the writer’s copy’ and the ‘reader’s’. It’s why I’m very happy to continue to support Varuna House.”
‘Secrets of Eromanga’ – Lothian Books/Hachette 2006
‘Princess Clown’ – Blake Publishing 2010
‘Charlie and the Red Hot Chilli Pepper’ – Pearson Australia 2010
‘Corn Dolly Dead’ – Black Dog’s Short & Scary Anthology 2010
‘Anansi and the Sky God’s Stories’ – school play, The Schools Magazine 2011
‘Scaredy Crow’ – short story, New Zealand’s schools’ Junior Journal #42 2011
Varuna has been funded by the Australia Council to produce a Varuna Writer-a-Day “app”. When we have recorded 365 writers the app will be made available via the iTunes store. In the meantime, if you subscribe to this free blog, you can receive a daily reading delivered to your email inbox which can also be directed to your mobile phone. To find out more about Varuna’s programs, residencies, events and support services for writers click here.
If you would like to be part of Writer-a-Day submit your application via our online form