The Near Miss
by Fran Cusworth
Fran will be awarding an eCopy of The Near Miss to 3 randomly drawn winners during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. Those locations may be found here.
Crystal: Today I have the pleasure of hosting Fran Cusworth. Welcome Fran! I'm so happy to have you here today. Would you share a little bit about yourself with us today?
Fran: I’m a mother of two, a newly qualified nurse, a writer.
Crystal: Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share with us?
He should be more careful. Someone could take advantage of that.
And where was the woman? Melody had not seen her since they had arrived at the hospital. Melody herself had been crouching down to Skip’s level when the mother put the little girl down on the ground. The child had rubbed her hands with satisfaction, as if brushing off her mother’s touch. She looked at the road as if it were a great opportunity, and then she ran straight onto it.
Melody was amazed, later, at how much she could fit into a fraction of a second. She had dropped Skipper’s hand and turned into the wake carved through the hot air by the little girl. She took giant strides, calculating the exact point at which she would have to stop and centre her weight, to pull them both back from the path of traffic. She squatted slightly amid the blur of wheels moving and the exhaust of cars and she snatched at the white of the child’s dress. She brushed it, then she got a handful of broderie and yanked it back, scrambling with her other hand to get a purchase on more than the cotton fabric; she would not stop until she felt warm flesh. The red car was upon them. She met the man’s eyes, saw their whites. She seized the girl’s upper arm, frail as a chicken bone, and she yanked it hard, knowing she might break it, and that it didn’t matter.
There was a tap as the car hit something, the child’s foot, just the tip of her sandal, and the little girl released a fire-engine scream.
Melody had the whole child now, her arms wrapped around her warm belly, tyres burning and shuddering all around them on the hot bitumen. She whisked the girl up and away. A white car swerved to miss the red car, and hit a parked car; a third car hit the white car. The child screamed, each chainsaw howl ending in a hoo-hoo-hoo! before winding up again.
She was writhing in Melody’s arms, and Melody carried her back to the footpath and the crowd of breathless onlookers, and the ashen-faced mother. On the road, people stood beside smashed fenders and waved their arms, then tapped each other’s insurance details into their mobile phones. Melody had handed the child to her mother and everyone sighed. Death had blown through them like a cinder-laden wind on a bushfire day, but he had missed his chance.
Crystal: Where did you come up with the idea for The Near Miss?
Fran: The Near Miss came from the event in the first chapter: a child running onto the road at our local ice cream shop and nearly being hit by a car. I watched this incident happen and it was over in a moment, but then I started inventing lives for everyone involved, and it all unraveled unwrapped itself from there.
Crystal: What are you currently working on?
Fran: A time travel fairy novel, something totally different!
Crystal: Do you have any special routine that you follow when you are writing?
Fran: I’m a morning person, so I get up and write from about 5-7, two or three times a week. Then I think about it a lot the rest of the week while I’m doing other things.
Crystal: Did you have to do a lot of research for this book or any other? If so do you have a fascinating fact that you have learned you would like to share with us?
Fran: My best research experience was spending a day with a Melbourne Zoo vet, doing things like watching a bird be dissected. Not for this book though!
Crystal: Who are some of your favorite authors that you like to read?
Fran: Jane Austin, Rosalie Ham, Lianne Moriarty, Toni Jordan, Michael Franzen.
Crystal: Is there a genre you haven't written that you would like to try?
Fran: Time travel, which I am having a go at now! I just watched the Back to the Future series, I’m quite captivated by all the story possibilities in time travel.
Grace, hardworking and tired, wants another baby. But she's dealing with debt, a manic 4-year-old and a jobless husband determined to make his inventions into reality. Can they both get their way, or will competing dreams tear their marriage apart?
Eddy analyses risk for a living, but his insecurities have brought his own life to a halt. He won't let go of the flighty, unfaithful Romy, but will he ever risk believing in himself?
Melody is trying to raise her son Skip in the city while holding true to her hippie lifestyle. But will past mistakes and judgement from other parents force her to leave her beliefs behind?
This is a story about real life aspirations, and whether you can chase your dreams at the same time as raising children and paying the bills. It's about friendship, and how the people you meet in a moment can change your life forever.
GENRE: General Fiction
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Grace stood at the door of the waiting room and watched these three strangers, man, woman and child, and breathed a fresher air than the air she had left behind in the ward, where blue face masks and plastic tubing absorbed all the oxygen. Around them here, families gathered in little clumps, some staring at her with surly envy. They wanted in. Children wailed and coughed and grizzled. Grace went over to the man and woman.
‘She’s going to be okay,’ she told them. ‘She’s strained a ligament and bruised her foot.
But it’s relatively minor.’
‘Lucky,’ said the woman. She had extraordinary blue eyes.
‘Lucky you were there,’ said Grace steadily. ‘What’s your name?’
‘Melody. We just moved here last week. From up north.’
‘Where up north?’
‘A commune. Tuntable Falls. Have you heard of Nimbin?’
‘Of course,’ said Grace. Drop-out ’sixties scene, up in the rainforest mountains.
Explained the dreds. ‘I didn’t think there was anyone up there under sixty.’
‘Plenty,’ said Melody. ‘Their kids.’
‘You grew up there?’
‘No, here. Donvale. Most boring suburb in the world. Probably why I fled to Nimbin as soon as I could.’
Grace nodded. ‘Well, I for one am glad you came back! Hey, do you think you could both come for dinner one Saturday night? My husband Tom and I, and Lotte, we live just near the ice-cream shop. We would like to say thank you.’
The man beamed and looked absolutely delighted. ‘Can I bring my girlfriend?’
‘Of course.’ She looked at Melody. ‘Do you want to bring someone? Besides your son?’
‘Is your car alright?’ It was the polite thing to ask, although Grace could not have cared less about the car. I do hope my child’s body didn’t dent your fender?
Eddy blushed. ‘It’s fine. We drove here in it, remember? From the scene of the crime.’
‘Oh, yes. Sorry.’
‘So to speak. Wasn’t really a crime.’ The man spoke hastily, as if sensing Grace’s burning guilt, and the two women turned as one to study him for a moment.
‘I’m so sorry,’ he said, his hand on his heart.
‘It wasn’t your fault,’ Grace said gloomily. It would have been nice to blame something other than her daughter’s lunacy, but in this case it was not possible. ‘She’s always been a runner. I’m just lucky you both have quick reflexes.’ She tore a corner from a magazine and wrote. ‘So here’s my address. I’ll see you.’
At her feet, the boy, who must have been Lotte’s age, shrieked and pointed. A tiny tin train peeled away from his feet and skittered across the floor merrily, over the linoleum, under seats and between feet, carving a straight line through the lives it passed. The hippy looked accusingly at the man.
‘You fixed it.’
He looked sheepishly proud, and crouched by the squealing, delighted child.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Fran is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. She worked as a newspaper journalist for twenty years, and recently had a midlife career crisis and retrained as a nurse. She won the Guy Morrison Prize for Literary Journalism in 2013. She is married with two children and she once lived in a commune, like Melody, and at another time she desperately wanted a second child, like Grace. Like Tom, she has pursued a few foolish dreams, and like Eddy, her courage has at times failed her. This is her fourth novel.
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