Some Other Traveller
by Lyn McConchie
When the world’s civilizations collapse from a lethal pandemic, being old can mean you have the experience and wisdom to survive and to see that friends and family do as well. Donal and Sheila McArn are seventy when most of the world is dying, and they must hold the line for everything they know. They may not have long, but so long as they live, they’re going to do their best – and anyone against them had better step back. NOW!
Kaylie died an hour later. Ricky had all his things packed by then, Donal had dug a small grave, and we placed her in that, the teddy bear – a bright pink one that Ricky said she still loved – tucked in beside her. After that, he clung to my hand.
I drove home, and when I would have left the lad with Janet, he clung to me like a limpet, his eyes wide in fear of losing someone else. I put him to bed in the spare room, slept in the bed opposite, and took him with me the next morning. Janet took the accumulated cash, along with a list and several friends, utes, and her car with a trailer. We removed the Black and McMallan animals, several small portable sheds, and salvaged useful items from houses and outbuildings. During which time Ricky was never out of eyeshot, and when my hands weren’t employed, he clung to one of them.
We drove home to eat dinner, I put him to bed, and when he asked, I answered, “Yes, this is your room now. You’ll go to school here once it opens again. The place is called Glen Mhairi. It’ll be your home.” And then the tentative question that almost broke my heart. “Aye, you can call us Grandma and Grandpa if you want. We’d like that.” He fell asleep still trustfully holding my hand, and as I looked at that peaceful face, I knew the truth.
After all those years and with never a child of our own, we finally had a grandson.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Lyn McConchie started writing in 1990 and within a year had short stories and poems published. In 1993, her first book – a humorous true-life work (Farming Daze) about her farm, friends, and animals appeared – this was followed by six others in that series. As a joke between them, a long-time friend of Lyn’s, Andre Norton, was given a book Lyn had written set in one of Andre’s worlds. Andre was impressed with the work and took it to her agents who sold it to Warner books. This led in turn to Lyn writing another six books in Andre’s worlds, which were published either by Warner or TOR. Lyn has won seven short story Muse Medallions from the (International) Cat Writer’s Association, and six Sir Julius Vogel Awards for her books. Since the original book, Lyn has seen almost fifty more books appear plus over three hundred short stories, and says she has no intention of stopping so long as she is able to write.
Article By Lyn McConchie
I write – books, stories, articles, and opinion pieces. I have an imagination like the energizer bunny that assists with the first two. In fact it’s very rare if I’m writing a book, that I don’t get ideas for one … two … three… more as I write. With stories, I usually think of one more at least. This explains why many of my books even if standalones, can fall into a similar package.
Another useful thing is that I’m 76. I’m done a very long list of work types, from stallion groom, to model, to running a government department with an annual budget of a quarter of a million dollars that I brought in every year to within $5. And in 1989, I bought a small farm, and started farming – never having done so before, without the faintest idea of what I was doing, and with no experience with farm animals. I also started writing – ditto the first two.
A third useful thing, is that as Friedrich Nietzsche said, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. By the time I was sixteen, I’d had seven legal parents, and my seven years with the last pair were a close approximation of hell. However, when I settle down as a writer to write, all that gives me massive resources to draw on, helped by the habit of remembering odd, peculiar or interesting facts I’ve read somewhere in the past 70 years.
In New Zealand, we have what has long been referred to as “the number 8 wire mentality.” It’s a joke that goes, give me a coil of number 8 wire, and I can make you anything short of a tractor; give me the wheels and I’ll make that too. It was because originally in the era of sailing ships, buying something could mean sending an order to England – three months to arrive. It wouldn’t be available; the supplier would send a letter to say so and offer alternatives – three months to arrive. The buyer would choose one and send a letter – three months to arrive, and then, if what they’d ordered was still in stock – another three months to get to New Zealand. So we got into the habit of building what was wanted out of odds and ends, or being flexible.
And we have a small population. So someone who plays a trumpet here may not be able to find full time work. That’s okay. They can play part-time in an orchestra, be the fanfare for an ice-cream ad, appear in Shakespeare plays. And if all else fails, go and busk on the corner. And here it applies to writers. Very few of whom make a living at a single thing. That’s okay. Many teach, some start courses, and others do as I do, and write – just about anything.
Mysteries, I write Sherlock Holmes pastiches – eight published, four more sold. A humorous true-life series about my farm, animals and friends – seven books. Children’s picture books (about a local troll) – six. YA books about a couple of kids who live on adjacent farms – my Four Seasons quartet. Post-apocalyptic novels – four published to date, two more completed. SF/F, and a serious non-fiction book, a study looking at local fires. For a total thus far, of fifty published books … and counting. It’s surprising who says to me, but I can’t find a publisher, I can’t think of a subject, my publisher only wants the same as they’re been buying from me. In order – keep looking and don’t quit. Open the dictionary at random and write. So? Start writing a new series under a pen name and offer it elsewhere. But writing is great, it’s absorbing, involving, fascinating, and I plan to keep doing it until I fall off the twig.
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