Who’s Your WIP; A Home by the Sea, by Craig Saunders

This month I bring you two excerpts by two wonderful authors. First up, Craig Saunders gives us a taste of his latest novel A HOME BY THE SEA.


new cover 3.3Irene always wanted a home by the sea. Somewhere to call her own, maybe a place with a view of the sea. Somewhere she was able to hear the waves rubbing the sand, or even just to get that fresh salt smell in her washing on a fine day.

She sat on the porch, hands on her belly, smiling.

She was petite and beautiful in a kind of boyish way. She was also young, and frightened. Her belly seemed enormous on her small frame, and so it should, because she was pregnant with twins.

She rubbed her belly and made a noise like the sand rolling in the tide, soothing her babies. One kicked and set the other off and she laughed.

Out here, way out on the point, with nothing to look at but the sea, she could think. She could feel.

Some people called it the spit, but she could never think of it like that. It was the ‘point’ to her, pointing out to sea, telling her to look and never forget, every single day.

She was drawn to the sea. Always had been. When the Blue House came along she fell in love all over again, with that electric, sickening pulse deep within that couldn’t be ignored. She’d had to have it.

Back in her old town, she hadn’t been able to see clearly through the traffic, the Saturday shoppers, the queues at the supermarket and drunks walking past her door from the pubs further on down the street, singing football chants and swearing and fighting. Walking past dead kebabs that littered the streets and hearing the rumble of buses, or the plastic fake glass being smashed in telephone box. It was never the worst place in the country, or even the county, Norfolk, but something never felt right, like she didn’t belong and was just a traveller, passing through.

The Blue House was right. She wasn’t a traveller anymore. She was home.

The point ran slowly curving out to sea from east to west, joining the land in the east and petering out into the sea in the west. Out to the west was a seal sanctuary and on a still day she could hear them barking. The gulls and terns woke her first thing in the morning, as soon as the sky got light. They nested in the dunes that ran down to the beach. There were no trees, just hillocks with tufts of sea grass, lumps of driftwood and broken plastic and squid and broken nets and cages pushed up on the shore.

She could sit out on the sand or in the warm, like now, when it was autumn and that bite was in the breeze that you only got on the chilly Norfolk coasts.

To wake and walk down to the shore first thing in the morning had become a ritual, no matter if it was blustery or warm or wet or cloudy. To look out at the weather way off over the rough North Sea, and know that Holland lay over the horizon in the north, and Norfolk and the whole of southern England at her back.

Every morning she stared with pale blue eyes at the sea, with the pale Blue House at her back and when she went back over the dunes to her home, she was never sad to leave the sea behind, because out on the point she was surrounded by it. From every room in the house she could see it. It was always there, when she woke and when she went to sleep. She could close her windows and shut out the sound of the waves breaking, but she never had.

Maybe the Blue House could save her. Let her be a mother to her children, concentrate on raising a family, and forget.

She smiled again, cooed, and her kicking babies calmed.

She wished Paul could have shared those kicks with her and held his big hands against her belly. She would have loved the chance to share the Blue House and the sea with the only man she’d ever truly loved. But he was gone and her babies were all she had left of him.


 Marc Jones frowned and rubbed a hand through his unruly greying hair, looking at the delivery he’d just received. The offending article stood in the middle of the shop, Beautiful Brides. It wasn’t what he’d ordered at all.

‘What is that?’

The delivery man shrugged.

‘It looks like a mannequin to me.’

‘I know it’s a mannequin. I ordered a mannequin. A dress maker’s mannequin. I did not order that. It’s…’ Marc shook his head. He wanted to say it was a piece of shit, but he didn’t like swearing unnecessarily.

It was a piece of shit, though, he thought.

The delivery man shrugged again. He couldn’t give a shit either way. He had three more jobs on his docket, and he had to go half the way across the county from Blakeney to Yarmouth, out on the east coast of Norfolk, for his final run. He wouldn’t be home ‘til after seven as it was. He just wanted a signature.

‘Sign here,’ he said, holding out his electronic pad.

Marc shook his head. ‘I’m not signing for it.’

‘What am I supposed to do with it?’

‘Take it back,’ said Marc, mentally preparing himself for a battle of words.

‘I can’t take it back. I’m just here to deliver it. I’m the driver. You need to call whoever you ordered it from.’

‘I’m not taking it, and I’m not signing for it,’ said Marc.

The delivery man sighed. He closed his eyes and shook his head, like a man on the edge counting to ten and thinking of balloons or Mickey Mouse, maybe, instead of lashing out with words.

‘Look, Sir…’ he said.

‘No, you look,’ said Marc, through gritted teeth. ‘That thing’s moth eaten. It’s mildewed. It stinks, for Christ’s sake. It smells like dead fish or something.’

‘It’s not up to me, OK?’

‘Just put it back on the van. I wasn’t in, OK?’

The delivery man looked down at his feet. He really did want to be home early. He shook his head once again and picked up the mannequin.

‘Whatever,’ he said, and lumped it back out of the door of Beautiful Brides.

Marc puffed out some air, shook his head.

‘For Christ’s sake,’ he said again.

The delivery driver lugged the heavy thing back out to the van and hefted it into the back, swearing a little under his breath, but not cursing too heavily.

He rolled a tight little cigarette. He wasn’t allowed to smoke in the van, so he stepped round the back of the shop. Took a piss against the rear wall of Beautiful Brides, zipped up and nodded.

He finished his cigarette and returned to the van. The keys weren’t in his pocket. They weren’t in the driver’s seat.

Something stank, stank like rotted meat. He turned his nose up and swore, more heavily this time, because if he’d lost the keys to the van there would be hell to pay from his boss and he’d never make it home for tea.

With a steadily darkening face he walked around to the back of the van and saw the keys swinging in the van’s back door.

The delivery man laughed, shook his head, and took his keys from the lock.

He wound down the window on the drive out and kept it that way for the whole journey to Yarmouth, because he just couldn’t seem to get that stink out.

He never did notice the footsteps leading up to the van.


299888_276237145750766_1196887213_nCraig Saunders lives in Norfolk, England, with his wife and three children, who he pretends to listen to while making up stories in his head.

He has published more than two dozen short stories, and is the author of many novels including Rain (Crowded Quarantine Publications), Spiggot (Grand Mal Press), The Love of the Dead (Evil Jester Press) and A Stranger’s Grave (Grand Mal Press).

He blogs at www.craigsaundersauthor.blogspot.com.

FB facebook.com/craigrsaundersauthor

Twitter @petrifiedtank


About Darke Conteur
Darke Conteur is a writer at the mercy of her Muse. The author of stories in several genres, she prefers to create within the realms Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy. A pagan at heart, her personal goal it to find her balance within nature; exploring the dark through her stories and the light through her beliefs. When not writing or working with crystals, she enjoys knitting, gardening, cooking and very loud music.

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