The Cottage on Winter Moss
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*Silver Medal Winner in the Readers' Favorite Competition, and shortlisted by Wind Dancer Films*
Burned-out author Dee needs fresh inspiration. Impetuously, she abandons London and her good-for-nothing boyfriend to go wherever her literary quest takes her. Journey’s end is a remote village on the shores of a wild estuary, overshadowed by a ruined pele tower. She rents Winter Cottage and waits for a story to emerge.
The bleak beauty of the whispering dunes, the jacquard of colour and texture of the marsh and a romantic tree in a secluded glade—The Trysting Tree—all seduce Dee. Nevertheless, the secretive behaviour of a handsome neighbour, lights across the marsh, a spurious squire and a bizarre, moonlit encounter all suggest there is something odd afoot.
Local gossip and crumbling graveyard inscriptions give Dee the opening she needs. She begins to weave hints about the tragic history of a local family, feuding brothers and a fatal fire into a sweeping historical saga. Her characters clamour for a voice as the tale spools effortlessly onto the page—demanding to be told. Dee feels more like its instrument than its instigator.
As she becomes enmeshed in the local community, Dee is startled to find her fiction unnervingly confirmed by fact, her history still resonating in the present-day.
Is she being guided by echoes of the past?
Awards and Recognition
A tree stood in the middle of the copse—a much older tree than those around it, with gnarly silver branches and slender leaves. It was a silver birch, but a very unusual one, far more like an oak in its shape and size than the normally tall and willowy habit of silver birches. One of the lower branches had grown out horizontally, long enough, and at just the right height and thickness to make a private seat for lovers. I immediately named it the trysting tree. Its privacy—screened from the world by the surrounding willows—and the provision of a branch where two could snuggle close together, made it the ideal spot for a clandestine assignation. I stood in the clearing and looked at the tree. Stray beams of late afternoon light illuminated its bark so that it glowed with an eerie luminescence. There was something enthralling about it—its age, its shape, its potential—and I found myself mesmerised as though caught in some enchantment. Story threads seemed entwined like gossamer in its very branches, and I let my mind pursue the delicate skeins—of tragic lovers, lovelorn men and ruined women, lost children …