‘First To A Hundred’ published in Tincture 8

I remember years ago an author I knew saying publication was like buses – nothing and then they all arrive at once. The next few weeks are a bit like that.

Today I’m ecstatic to see Tincture Eight go live, with my story ‘First to a Hundred’ in it. It’s almost two years ago now, since I first put pen to paper to write a ‘cricket story’. Only ever intended as a piece of flash fiction and some kind of bent challenge to myself as an up-yours to Australia’s cricket loving summer, it quickly evolved into something all together different.

The first section I wrote in less than an hour after spending several days chewing on the idea of beach cricket and equality for girls. I left it at the end of that first section, expecting that was it, I’d achieved a piece of flash fiction and went to do the weekly shop. Ten minutes later as I was pulling into Garden City Shopping Centre I knew that wasn’t the end of it and what was going to happen next. By the time I’d got a trolley and begun the shop I was choking down tears knowing how it was going to end. I rushed home and poured it all out onto the page in a little over two hours. And it was done.

All in all, it was one of those effortless stories that you are gifted once in a blue moon,  appears fully formed and writes itself. It went out to beta readers that night who tweaked next to nothing in it (except for the alignment with a tissue box and some spelling mistakes) and since then it’s been goodwill hunting for the right home.

I’m so very glad that home is Tincture. Daniel Young, the publishing editor, has been a brilliant support of my non-speculative fiction writing since Tincture first began in 2012.

The 1st December, the start of Summer, is the perfect publication date for a story that drips with the heat and pressure cooker environment of the summer before high school. Think Duran Duran, Reef Oil and Sweet Valley High books. Then think blue cabbage hat, green zinc cream and the spin of a soggy tennis ball on sand. That’s just the start.

Many thanks to Adam Byatt, Paul Phillips and Dan Powell who all beta read it back in 2013, and also to Stacey Larner, who proof read it. And thank you to Daniel.

Congratulations and happy publication day also to Sean Wright and Adam Byatt who both have poems in Tincture Eight and Emily Craven who also shares the Table of Contents with a short story.

Here’s a little snippet of ‘First to a Hundred’.

– – –

Five minutes. Five runs. Six balls to bowl.

It’s going to be over before lunch one way or the other. I look down the churned up pitch to Dougie, wondering how I came to be the one he’s facing down. I look at the battered stumps and imagine putting the tennis ball through them, like I’ve already done three times today. I weigh up the pros and cons of a short bounce or a long bounce on the hard sand left by the retreating tide.

Or bugger it, I could just throw under arm and let him thump it out into the surf for six. Let Dougie claim his moment of glory. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter to me.

They only tolerate me because I can bowl as good as, if not better than, most of them.

“Amazing natural off-leg spin,” Gibbo commentated from the footpath, when he saw me throwing a ball against the garage door two years ago and invited me down to their summer-long game.

So each year my bowling action and the fact I can’t hit to save my life, so I don’t hog the batting order, gain me entrance to the game on the beach. Charlie says it’s really only because the Connors, who had two sons, sold up at the summer before we arrived and they were short bodies in the field. Gibbo tells me Charlie is full of shit.

It’s Jimmy who starts the chant: Dougie—clap clap clap—Dougie. It’s infectious and one by one the others join in. I throw the ball up and down as I’ve seen the other boys do and wait for the chanting to die out.

I’ve no idea what the deal is, with throwing the ball up and down, see no point to it, but I do it anyway. I’ve learned in the last two summers you find your place blending in; everything else is, as Gibbo says, icing on the cake.

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