The Near Miss
by Fran Cusworth
ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and leave comments.
GENRE: General Fiction
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.
He turned up the air-conditioning. He needed fresh air, the car was stuffy, but the aircon would not be optimised if he opened a window. Romy should have finished her waitressing job by now, and be heading to their modest, three-bedroom brick home in a nice street, in a desirable area. No doubt checking her phone as she did every hour, for a message from the acting agency; the message that never seemed to come. Not a failed actress, as Eddy’s surly father had once called Romy behind her back, to Eddy’s indignation. Just someone who dreamed of a bigger life.
Romy had complained less about her menial job in recent weeks, newly distracted as she was by an event which had shaken both their lives. She had cheated on Eddy and slept with her yoga instructor — just a one-night stand, but still; sex, true, penetrative sex, with another man. It had shocked them both, after five years of monogamy. Romy had confessed to him within days of the act, and then proceeded to confide in all of their friends with an endearing and handwringing honesty, which made people murmur soothing things like ‘Don’t be too hard on yourself’. Advice which Eddy privately thought was well-intentioned, but not, it appeared, desperately called for. There appeared no danger of true, heartfelt self-flagellation on his girlfriend’s part.
For himself, he reflected that, had he seriously contemplated such a possibility in risk analysis terms, he would have dramatically underestimated the likelihood of its occurrence, but probably could have guessed its consequence — the level of his pain — at about right. He was gutted. He would rather have endured a physical beating to his body than the agony of this intimate betrayal. Almost as bad had been her need to share the titillating details with all of their friends, even if it was in a spirit of self-recrimination. But such soul-baring was typical of Romy.
She had even blogged about it.
However, he had survived the infidelity, and the subsequent broadcasting of it to half of Melbourne and general cyberspace. Things were healing. They would get through. And maybe, just maybe, moving to the next level of commitment would help.
Driving now along the main street, Eddy slowed. He was drawing near the strip of shops which clustered near the train line, and traffic here was always a stop-start affair. Cars pulled out of parallel parks; pedestrians darted into the centre of the road and quivered on the white line, waiting to dash to the other side. A bus heaved itself out from a stop like some massive, weary beast and blocked his vision. Eddy politely let the bus in, and two more cars took advantage and darted in front of him into the stream of traffic.
‘You’re welcome,’ Eddy told them dryly. He pressed down on the accelerator and set off.
Up ahead was an ice-cream shop; the busiest outlet in the street, of course, on a day like this. The sort of crowd the TAB drew on Melbourne Cup Day. People spilled from the door; others moved towards it. They held cones and tubs with spoons. A little girl emerged at the edge of the crowd and stepped onto the road. Eddy watched her, wondering what he could make for dinner. Maybe something on the barbecue outside, not the stove, so as to keep the house cool— the child darted onto the road, right in front of his moving car. Eddy saw the streak of her white dress like a torn page, and in one frozen moment he saw the child’s laughing face, all mischief and loveliness, at the lower edge of the window. He slammed hard on the brake, the
ABS fluttering beneath his feet to stop the car fishtailing. The child’s dress had scalloped edges, and she held a cone topped with pink ice cream, and her face was too close.
‘Shit!’ he shouted.
But in that last second a woman in a green dress appeared; thin, with golden hair in long ropes, and long brown arms that shot out and snatched at the child. Bystanders’ ice creams fell or melted unseen down their fingers, people’s faces distorted in gothic, open-mouthed denial. No!
Every face was turned towards him. Movement everywhere. There was the plastic crunch of a second car accident somewhere in the traffic behind him. Had he hit the kid?
Eddy flung open his door. The hot air pushed in as he leapt out into the heat.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Fran Cusworth, author of The Near Miss.
Hi Fran, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Please tell us a little about yourself and your background.
What were you like at school?
A bit on the outer, I always felt! Not very hard working, and I got pretty ordinary marks. Unathletic, tall, lanky and awkward.
Were you good at English?
I was always excellent at English and English Lit – I do remember in primary school being the girl who could spell anything. As a totally unsporting person who wore coke bottle glasses, this was my one claim to fame.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
To write books I feel proud of, which connect me to other people, which bring some joy to readers and to myself as a writer.
Which writers inspire you?
Jane Austin, Rosalie Ham, Lianne Moriarty, Toni Jordan, Michael Franzen.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does Grace do that is so special?
Grace is heartbroken when her husband leaves her, and she surprises herself in her moment of desperation by making friends with an unusual stranger almost in spite of herself; a woman who is her complete opposite, who changes her view of the world.
What are you currently working on?
A time travel fairy story! Totally different to anything I’ve written.
Which actress would you like to see playing Grace from The Near Miss?
What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing?
This is my fourth novel, so I am sort of in the habit of it now. It would take more effort to actually stop writing something, although I do consider making myself.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I’m an early morning person, so I write most often about 5am for an hour or so, a couple of times a week. I don’t spend a lot of time writing, although I do revisit it quite frequently when I’ve got something on the go.
Where do your ideas come from?
Moments in ordinary life. 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 from there.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I’ve tried both ways, but I think I’m presently in favour of the more organic seeing where the idea takes me. That said, after a first draft I do need to impose some structure on it in the rewrite.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
It can take a long time from start to finish.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I read constantly, mostly novels, some self help books, some history. It’s hard to pinpoint favourite authors, I have so many I like. I probably favour books by women.
For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I like both but I do really like ebooks at present, as I am a bit of an insomniac, and I can read my ereader at night without waking my husband.
What books are you reading at the present?
Tim Winton’s Eyrie, Di Morrissey’s Rain Music, and Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Effective People. I’m also re-reading my own recent novel, as it’s always new to read it as a published book.
How do you relax?
Reading, reading, reading! Hot baths, watching TV, trawling Facebook, wandering around my lovely house and appreciating every little corner of it.
What is your favorite quote?
“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” — Albert Einstein
What is your favorite movie?
Pride and Prejudice, the BBC teleseries
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
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.
Fran will be awarding an eCopy of The Near Miss to three randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter during the tour.