Peeps! The Corpselight paperback is out on May 17! The day *after* my birthday, so it’s almost like my birthday!
So, if you require the paperback size to match the Vigil on your shelf (those who care about such things), then now is the time to put in your orders at your favourite bookshop …
Also, the paperback contains a new, unpublished story called “Swan Girls” … it’s a Sister Bridget origin story …
by Angela Slatter
Sister Bridget Hazelton is twelve when she sees her first angel.
Of course she’s not a Sister then, just a sister – to Eleanor, who’s half her age, with twice her capacity to get into trouble – but she sees the angel nonetheless. Eleanor, of course, does not.
Bridget is walking home from school, her sister dancing along in front, singing the national anthem – in 1964, it’s still ‘God Save the Queen’ and they have to sing it every morning at assembly, standing to attention on the burnt red parade ground. But at this very moment Eleanor is chanting it to the same tune as the Gilligan’s Island theme song. It sounds wrong, but Eleanor doesn’t care.
There are a lot of things Ellie doesn’t care about; Bridget is the one with a thing for rules. She’s the eldest, so all their parents’ expectations and hopes, terrors and fears have been vested in her. Ellie reaps the benefits of Megan and Will’s exhaustion with making and enforcing their own decrees; it’s a known fact that as long as the first-born isn’t obviously broken by the time the second comes along, parental units tend to relax/collapse on the whole ‘boundaries’ front. They inevitably try to make up for this is by handing a degree of responsibility to Child Number One.
Bridget is aware of the weight of these expectations and it has affected her posture: she doesn’t slouch, but stands straight, feet always braced a little bit apart so that anything trying to knock her down will have to work extra-hard. Her shoulders are held back with the discipline of a soldier, which makes her look taller. It’s a stance that will stay with her for ever, that, and the way she juts her chin forward, daring the world to have a go and see what happens.
Bridget knows, courtesy of her parents, that she is Responsible. She is Responsible for her own good grades. She is Responsible for collecting the mail when she comes home from school. She is Responsible for laying the table and for drying the dishes her mother has washed up. She is Responsible, most of all, for her little sister.
Ellie makes that particular task so much harder by being a thorough-going little brat. If there is a means to get into trouble, she will find it. It is invariably Eleanor who locate the hidden wasps’ nest and stirs it up; expensive electrical equipment will either short out when she touches it, or, curiosity will overwhelm her and she will take it apart, and even if she does put it back together (which is not guaranteed), it will never work again, for some critical component will have gone mysteriously missing. If she so much as looks sideways at a piece of their mother’s jewellery, it (or part of it at least) will disappear. Megan Hazleton has long ago accepted that she’s destined to have more unmatched earrings than anyone else on the planet. She continues to hope that one day it might become fashionable.