As the fourth book in the Hope series, Footsteps aims to deal with hope as opposed to the themes of hopelessness present in the former three novels. It focuses on the life of a feral child called Crab who lives on the beach where his parents left him many years previous, waiting patiently for them to return home. He exists through the items that the tourists, or ‘brights’ as he calls them, leave behind at the end of the day and he fishes in the water to provide for himself and the crabs that he keeps as pets, crabs which he affectionately refers to as Tickers.
The quiet life that the young boy has established for himself is ripped apart by politics in the local village. The people here, ‘non-brights’, aren’t fans of Crab and want to get rid of him. In an attempt to fight this behaviour one of the councillors sends his daughter Skye to befriend the Crab and make him seem more human. Crab and Skye, or Smile as he calls her, become close and rather than fulfilling the original brief she begins to fall in love with his simple existence. This doesn’t go down well in the village.
To me however, this story isn’t the point of the book. I wrote it after being inspired by Chapel St Leonard’s beach which is just down the coast from Skegness. It’s a nice cheap holiday considering it’s only about an hour away from where I live. The beach isn’t pretty in the conventional sense but it has a real charm to it, particularly during the storm that happens every time I go there.
Footsteps attempts to capture the life cycle of the beach, the way that the water swells in response to the prevailing weather and the way that it always looks the same at the end of a day when the water washes everything clean. Essentially it’s based on something which I consider a very large part of me, something which pops into my head first when I consider the word beauty and so for me Footsteps is much more important than just the story of my favourite character from my books. That’s probably why I developed it into a story about hope, something which in my opinion is very much linked to the cleansing nature of the ocean.
If this is your first introduction to the Hope series, the books have a thematic relationship rather than a story one and as such have no particular intended order. The other three each deal with one issue each: Cancer, low latent inhibition and political equality which are also things that mean a lot to me. All of these books are available on the Blippop’s books tab. Currently they’re all only available for kindle or the free kindle programme for the computer.
To round off the post there’s an extract from Footsteps below. Enjoy :D
“Somewhere far in the distance a dog barked frightening a flock of seagulls into the air. The laugher of the small girl accompanying the animal echoed across the sand attracting the attention of the young couple that were walking close to the sea just a few metres away. Uncaring of the cause the woman looked down at her manicured hand laced with the man’s and smiled as she caught the glint of a silver band on her finger. It felt cold when her digits moved, glittering constantly wherever the light struck. With the side of her middle finger she rubbed it and beamed even more. The man, who was still staring at their loud companions turned back to see his fiancé’s hair whipped up in the breeze beginning to whirl around the sands and he held back a laugh as she angrily pawed at it in an attempt to force it back from her eyes. He lifted his hand to help but changed his mind at the last moment overcome by a sudden attack of nerves. Cold refreshing air tinted with moisture splashed the woman’s face and she looked up suddenly. He pretended nothing had happened, the only indication a small sigh escaping his lips. Three small words followed, taken away into the dehydration the weather was causing and rendered increasingly inaudible by the noise of the beach as everyone else rushed for shade.
The wind started to die down, caught and defeated by the bright sun with its accompanying fluffy white clouds that bordered on invisible against a piercing blue background. It was nearing midday and the temperature was increasing to the point where no-one could bear to be outside on the beach. Both looked up at the intense blueness and shielded their eyes. It was so bright the woman had a moment after where everything ahead of her seemed fuzzy. It made the couple laugh slightly, another noise stolen by the dryness of their throats brought on by the strong heat as they ran for the steps leading away from nature and back to civilisation, hands clasped together all the way.
On the same beach some time later a little boy called Crab wiped the wet hair from his eyes and threw a stone into the air, watching it spin over and over itself until it landed in a self created crater by his feet. The next flew only briefly landing on the sand in a similar indentation. Each one sent a few tiny grains into the air where the slightest breeze caught them and carried them away into the skies. Sadness flickered in his stomach. It was difficult to ignore but he resisted running after them to gather them safely with the rest, instead accepting that it was just one of life’s processes and not his fault. Many dark-times ago he had realised that he couldn’t take blame for every piece of sand that went on an adventure; it was just a shame the realisation had taken so long. Too large a number of little ceremonies had taken place when one a day would suffice. One little section of each light-time to remember that each one lost was for a greater cause and he could watch them go with a happy feeling inside. While they flew into the wind he no longer felt responsible and that meant that he could finally appreciate the nature of the sand he loved. “
Pop (signature reference)