Susan Haigh

Finalist 2016

Excerpt from As Long As it Takes

‘For Mireille, grief seems like an impossible dream.

 ‘Mireille Marie Maupeu knows about planes. If you were to ask her, she’d say she doesn’t love planes, or even like them. Not at all. She has a passion for them; that’s not the same; not the same at all. Planes fill her head, like swarming bees burrowing into her brain – that bit of her brain. Then there’s the smell; aviation fuel.  That never leaves her, either.’

As Long as It Takes, a dark tale of grief and longing was inspired by a woman I observed at Orly Airport whilst waiting for my grandson, anxious because he’d never travelled alone before.  The woman appeared to be expecting someone, too, but I noticed she had all her worldly goods in a shopping trolley … as if she’d been waiting for a very long time, perhaps for someone who was never going to arrive.

About Susan Haigh

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I live on an ancient hill fort in Fife for half the year. The other half I spend in my cave house on a river bank in the Loire Valley … an ongoing project my husband and I began in 2002, developing plans on the backs of envelopes. Grand Designs hasn’t caught up with us yet! Both locations inspire my writing. Linguist, aromatherapist, poet, artist, I’ve been writing and publishing fiction for twenty years. In 2015, I completed an MLitt in Creative Writing. I practised aromatherapy in a clinic on the slopes of the Dundee Law, famous since medieval times for its cure-wives. I review novels and poetry collections and have interviewed many well-known figures in the literary world. In 2016, I was on a short-list of six for a Scottish Book Trust Writers Award.

My next literary adventure will be as fiction editor (Europe and Africa) for a new journal to launch in India soon. RAE STORIES is the brainchild of editor-in-chief and film-maker Ramesh Advhani.

 other short stories

Looking for Nathalie

 A winner in the Willesden Herald Competition, 2016 (Willesden Herald 9 Anthology) A Scottish student arrives at her lodgings in Paris, unaware of the life-changing events about to overwhelm her.

‘Gazing disconsolately at the alien roomscape, shoulders hunched against the penetrating chill of the place, I pulled my coat around me and slumped onto the  only seat, an upright dining chair, which, like everything else in that rat-hole, was fit only for the flea-market.

The Dream-Weaver’s Son

Winner of the Dundee International Women’s Short Story Prize and the Sunpenny Publishing Short Story prize. Set in a troubled India at the time of the 1947 partition, when Dundee mill workers were sent out to work in the jute industry. Muhesh, a street-dweller, tries to protect Eenoo McLennan from the mob waiting at the station, but the police set upon him and drag him away.

‘… Muhesh disappears into the crowd which has gathered to see the action. The Viceroy has not yet reached the gate when the barrier gives way and the chanting hoard spills out onto the red carpet. From nowhere, police with batons […] charge onto the platform and two shots ring out.’

 Poem printed on handmade paper

Poem printed on handmade paper

POETRY

On Kinshaldy Beach in Winter

‘We are alone,

except, of course,

for miles of frosted shore;

and cormorants on distant banks,

a benediction of wings’

Northwords Now and Keeping Poetry Alive

Novels

My novel The Galinski Diaries, is out to publishers. A young German girl is abandoned on a train in 1939. As an adult she returns to look for the jazz musician who rescued her.

 “Martha McEwan” is a modern psychological crime novel, set in 2020. Europe is in a state of turmoil. A woman has been missing for three decades. George Morrison, a Scottish Guardian journalist is trying to get permission from his editor, Gina Exley, to interview a woman in Russia he suspects to be … well, not who she says she is....here is an excerpt

 Gina Exley, editor-in-chief of the Guardian, sat behind a massive desk, inherited from her deceased predecessor, and pushed her glasses up into her hair, only slightly less blond than George’s,

“George, I’ve had one of your-er-women-friends on my phone again this morning. I don’t know what she expects me to do, but would you please try to keep your private life just that – private. She could go to the tabloids – or worse, to the social media. I wouldn’t be surprised if she already had.”

Cambridge and a degree in English literature had not quite managed to sort out Gina Exley’s flattened Yorkshire vowels. George thought she had a rather attractive voice – for an editor who was about to give him a roasting .“I …I…I’ll try, Ma’am.”’

 

The Writing Life

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”                                                                                               Stephen King, On Writing
 At home in France

At home in France

A good proportion of the life of any fiction writer or poet is spent staring out of the window. This  is when the creative part of the brain really begins to kick in. After that comes the other important thing: writing.  Just writing. Every day. Not too much, so that I feel so self-satisfied that I don’t write another word for days. No internet, Nothing to intrude. Some writers play music. Paying attention to two parts of the brain at once is too much for me, so I have silence.  Sometimes inspiration comes; sometimes it doesn’t.  Editing and beautifying can come later, like a sculptor discovering what lies within the stone. The most enjoyable part. I need and enjoy solitude for writing in places a close as I can get to the earth – a hill fort and a cave-house. But I love my writing groups too. A group of professional and semi-professional writers meets every week, some in cafes, some online. We write non-stop for thirty minutes without editing and share our word-count and last lines. A brilliant start to the writing day. The Roseangle Poets meet less frequently but spend time focusing intensely on poems which are to go out to journals, tearing them apart and resurrecting them in a different form, if necessary. We understand that rejection as a part of the writing process. We reckon that one piece in a hundred will be accepted. If you want to know how to handle so many submissions, go to belljarblog.wordpress.com – Submitting to Journals: the Jo Bell method.  I was for many of my formative writing years a member of Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Virtual Studios, based in San Francisco, where I learned the American way of writing and publishing. To this day I remain good friends with many of the inspiring writers I met there.

Inspiration

Apart from looking out of the window...I am often inspired by walks with my dog, who was rescued in Guadeloupe and spent his early years in France...

 My desk...

My desk...

 France...

France...

Coming soon

Our first anthology of short stories from The Scottish Arts Club Short Story Competition 2014-2018