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Hello, my name is Clare Strahan and I’m working on a historical fiction here at Varuna, and this is a piece from the prologue which I’m not sure will even make it into the final draft, but here we go:
I am long dead and you might think I no longer care if the story is told; a history from which I fell, unnoticed as any drudge, as any old woman or simple left with the goats bleating on the shore; while my husband lived on to make new history with his more famous love, Dido.
Dogs howled, I remember, dragging the burned meat of their masters from the ruins while the ships pulled away, loaded with women, all slaves but one.
Did you mourn, ghosts of Troy? Alone for a thousand years. We failed you, failed, betrayed as we were by the gods themselves.
Women survive but it is the men who are remembered as heroes. If not for Euripides, the women of Troy would long ago have been reduced to handmaidens, victims: but we were the survivors and in that, Helen of Sparta was our champion. She, servant of Aphrodite, who sailed from our shores in luxury while all her company were in chains.
But look, I see her now, the young woman that I was before the Spartan queen kissed the Trojan prince, before the long years of their undoing, before the treacherous horse. She is finding her way through the trees, safe she feels, held in the palm of the goddess Athene; pausing to fit her fine cheek to the mark of a lion’s paw and whisper a prayer to the consecrated earth – an earth that whispers back.
This is her story, that I cannot forget.”
ABOUT CLARE STRAHAN:
Clare Strahan is a short story writer, poet, play-maker, aspiring novelist, editor and nesting ground for the Literary Rats. Her YA novel Cracked was shortlisted for the Varuna/Penguin award in 2010 and she’s hoping 2012 will be its year. Sent to Varuna by the generous Copyright Agency Limited, she has been working on an historical fiction that’s been gnawing away at her since 2006. Clare is a contributing editor at Overland literary magazine and anthology editor for their new ebook Women’s Work (2012). She’s been writing for more than twenty years and you can blame the beautiful lecturers and cohort at RMIT PWE (2008 – 2011) for awakening her serious ambitions.
“Varuna makes being a writer a beautiful thing. The peace, the house itself, the space, the excellent fellow residents, the kindness and support of all the staff, all collude to bring the work to the fore and encourage you to follow it with passion. I am nurtured, nay fattened – literally – and my writing practice is enriched. What a blessing.” Clare Strahan
Finders Keepers, published in Overland, 2011
Unblogger for the Melbourne Writers Festival, 2011
Opinion & reviews, the Overland blog (2010/11)
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