Completing the initial round of my publisher’s edits for my forthcoming novel, Sugar and Snails, I’m reminded of the potential for disorientation I’ve built into the story. My narrator, Diana, has a secret she is unable to share with the reader initially; when you get it, you might look back on what she’s previously told you in a new light. I have to hope I’ve hit a reasonable balance between surprise and security, but I know it won’t work for all.
When Charli set her latest flash fiction challenge to write a 99-word story about disorientation, I had almost too many ideas. I could’ve based my response around almost any other novels for the recent review challenge, from the fakery of F, through the mystery of Milly’s missing mother and Rachel’s alcoholic absences, to the enigma of Alice’s imaginary friend. Yet, perhaps perversely, I’ve taken my inspiration from a novel I’ve yet to share on the blog:
Some put their faith in gold, God and governments; I thanked gravity for my anchor in this turbulent world. Friends and lovers might desert me, but Mother Earth was always there. April to October I went barefoot: pounding on asphalt, shuffling through sand or squelching mud between my toes, corporeally connected to solid ground.
I thought I’d gone mad when I heard the rumbling in her bowels. I never imagined the earth would betray me, let her surface crack like an egg. Soil in my mouth, grass in my hair, feet touching only air, I never dreamt I’d survive.
You’ll find a better description of the mental and physical disorientation of living through an earthquake in the novel God Loves Haiti and (big fanfare) one lucky reader will receive a free copy courtesy of the publisher when I post my review in a few days’ time.
Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with links to some more of my attempts to explore disorientation through fiction: The Neck features a young woman who wakes up on the morning of her wedding to find that her neck has grown as long as her arm; Habeas Corpus is about a man struggling to adapt to ordinary life after a terrifying kidnapping; Telling the Parents is about a couple’s attempt to comprehend their son’s shocking news; A Place of Safety concerns a woman unable to adapt to the modern world and No Milk or Sugar is an amusing take on dementia. If I haven’t already exhausted you, you might also be interested in my posts Where’s my mind gone? and Ideas that blow your mind on similar themes.