Leila has done me the honour of choosing one of my scribbles – Thank you.
I have selected this piece because it is a fine example of subtly setting person, place, conflict and pace in an even manner. So often, when the climax is O.Henry-esque, you can almost sense the author rushing in the twist-ending, failing to show restraint and trust in his or her story. Ms. Dickson shows a steady hand here. So, instead of blue-skying further, I’ll ask her about it.
Q: Is there a personal connection between you and the event described?
Q: The piece is a master tapestry of subtle details that places the reader on the beach without over elaboration. Did you have any difficulty sifting through all the possible descriptions for just the right thing? And were there items that you were loathe to omit but did because they didn’t serve the story?
Q1. There is only a personal connection in the actual event in that we regularly travel between France and the UK and pass the Normandy beaches and the War Cemeteries. I find those places haunting and when I look down on the stretches of beautiful sand I am always aware of the carnage that is – for me – just below the surface.
I have many spiritualists in my family and am drawn to much of the spiritualist beliefs. I heard lots of stories as I grew up about contact with ‘Spirit’. One thing that is commonly acknowledged is that if a person dies suddenly they often are unaware that they have moved on from this world and that fascinates me and I think that did a lot to inform this story.
Q2. I think my previous answer sort of covers this as well because when I look down on those beaches, which I do several times a year and as we drive through the countryside I am aware always of the things that have happened there. So, basically I just described what I see but peopled it with ghosts.
I didn’t want to put in too much of the gore because of course my soldier had already gone past that even though he didn’t realise it at the time of narration and there have already been plenty of other accounts of all of that.