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“Hi, my name’s Lucie Stevens and I’ll be reading an extract from my novel The Grace Stroke.
The girls drifted from the graveyard to the back of the church. They could hear the soldiers calling, their names sounding alien through the unfamiliar accent. They crept out onto the sea’s floor where the tide would soon return. The sand was wet. It clung to their shoes, trying to hold them. Rain clouds blocked the moonlight, swallowing the silver pathway.
The girls paused about halfway across the seabed, muscles tense and aching, lungs heaving cold air. Logestille could just make out the mainland’s shore. It still seemed far away. The first few drops of rain began to fall.
The tide came. It was cold and fast and made them hold their breath as it passed over the sand and reached their ankles.
“We’re here!” Alcine shouted to the soldiers. The sea slipped below the tongues of Logestille’s boots.
The men responded within seconds, almost as fast as the tide. They splashed through the gathering sea towards the girls, laughing and cheering as they came.
“Come on!” Alcine cried. The clouds released their rain.
Water came from above and below. Screeching in excitement, in fear, the girls ran as best they could through the weighty sand as the sea reached their knees. Lightning flashed above them and Logestille saw the world shimmer. The edges of the tide glinted like blades. Morgane’s curls caught raindrops as the water stuck them down and Alcine’s satin blue ribbons unfurled like conquering flags. And sometimes, beneath the sound of the tide, churned by the rain and by them as they dragged their way to the shore, Logestille thought she heard yelling that wasn’t their own, shouts coming deep from the chests of men. But she couldn’t be sure. The rain had flattened her hair across her eyes and ears. Her senses were numb. She focused on reaching the beach, ignoring the heaviness of her clothing and the cramp in her ribs. And as the storm grew louder and the shore became closer, the imagined shouts faded entirely.”
ABOUT LUCIE STEVENS:
In 2011, Lucie was awarded both an ASA mentorship and the NSW Writers’ Centre Varuna Fellowship for her work-in-progress ‘The Grace Stroke’. Set in France in 1913 and during the reign of Charlemagne, this magic realism novel follows the journeys of two young women struggling against the forces set to destroy them. Lucie has a BA Communications (Writing and Contemporary Cultures) and a Graduate Certificate in Editing and Publishing, both from UTS.
As winner of the 2011 NSW Writers’ Centre Varuna Fellowship, Lucie spent a week in February 2012 at Varuna restructuring her novel. Its parallel plotlines, set centuries apart before converging at the climax, had been causing mischief for some time. But they were no match for an undisturbed week of writing, during which Lucie was finally able to realign her novel’s bent spine. She would like to thank all at Varuna, the NSW Writers’ Centre and her ASA mentor Laura Bloom for their support and encouragement.
Lucie has contributed articles to a number of print and online magazines. In 2010, her short play ‘Whirlpool’ was performed by the National Youth Theatre Company as part of ‘Growing Up’.
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