Wednesday 1 December 2021

The December Story Song: Today's Guest Writer is...Deborah Swift

we are a little different this year:
some contributions are exclusive stories, others are excerpts
 from the authors' novels,
but all have our traditional format of...

Read the Story - Guess the Song

Here's a clue to the song title

Enjoy an excerpt from Pleasing Mr Pepys by Deborah Swift

After the last worshipper had left the church, Deb hovered by the lych gate as Jem threw on a cloak and locked up the hefty wooden door. He thrust the key in his waistcoat pocket, blew on his hands then rubbed them together, and set off purposefully in the direction of the river. ‘Shall we have a stroll?’ he asked.

Deb nodded and they jostled their way past all the other folk trying to pass over. It was a cold damp night, so when her cloak flapped open, he slipped his arm in hers and she was surprised to feel the heat of his arm through her woollen sleeve. It gave her a tingle of excitement. She saw too that his face was turned towards her with look of intense concentration.
She told him about Hollier’s visit and how her mistress Elisabeth was in too much pain to want company. In turn, Jem told her about how he had come up from Cambridge to work with the church on helping the many poor and dispossessed of London.

The way he talked of it made it sound easy and straightforward, the collecting of stale, unsold bread from bakeries all over London, distributing it from a hand barrow. She was amazed he did this. Her aunt had always taught her that the homeless poor were to be avoided at all costs, as if poverty was something you could catch.
About a third of the way across the bridge, burnt-out houses gave way to buildings which had escaped the fire, and Jem led her through an alley between the two blocks of houses. From here they could look down to the ‘starlings’ below, where the water funnelled through in a foaming brown tide. Looking down made her shiver, partly from cold and partly from fear.
Jem put his hand about her shoulders to steady her. ‘I love looking down, don’t you? Especially knowing that we’re safe up here behind these walls.’
They watched the water churn and gush below. Deb’s stomach was churning too, but with a strange anticipation. Suddenly light-headed, she stood up to move away, but he caught her in his arms, looked into her face. 
His breath was warm on her cheek. ‘I’d like to kiss you,’ he said. ‘I’ve wanted to ever since I first set eyes on you, but I think it too soon, so I’ll not presume to ask.’
She pulled away, from some habit of self-preservation, and because she did not know how to answer. Was he asking her, or wasn’t he?

‘Oh, I’ve offended you,’ he said.
‘No, no you haven’t.’ She was suddenly and unaccountably tearful. She wanted him to kiss her. If he did, it might be like a charm, a touch of holiness that would ward off Mr Pepys. She swallowed, looked away. She did not want to feel so affected by – no, confused by – this man.
‘It’s my fault,’ he said. ‘I shouldn’t open my big mouth before I’ve had time to think. I do beg your pardon. I’m not used to female company. Too much sitting in church meetings. I’ll walk you back to Seething Lane now, and I promise I won’t mention it again.’
The trouble was, she really wanted him to mention it again. She didn’t want to go home to Mr Pepys, nor did she want to carry out Abigail’s instructions of copying his diary for the King. She wanted to stay out here on the bridge where she didn’t have to make any decisions.
And all the while they were walking back, she walked stiffly, Jem’s every touch on her arm like a fire burning through the cloth of her sleeve, through her chemise, to make the hairs on her arms stand up as if they too wanted to be noticed. She did not want him to take his arm away – she was alight with the touch of him and how it might feel to have her first kiss.

 Song: Bridge Over Troubled Water
by: Simon and Garfunkel

Twitter @swiftstory 

Read Our Reviews
Pleasing Mr Pepys
A Plague on Mr Pepys
Entertaining Mr Pepys

As you read this I'll probably be writing from my tall stone house which was once a school and built in 1902. This is a house that is "new" in English terms, as many of our local villages date back to the 1630's or even earlier.

I write historical fiction, a genre I love. I loved the Victorian classics such as Jane Eyre, Little Women, Lorna Doone and Wuthering Heights. As I child I loved to read and when I had read my own library books, I used to borrow my mother's library copies of Anya Seton and Daphne du Maurier. I have loved reading historical novels ever since; though I'm a bookaholic and I read widely - contemporary and classic fiction as well as historicals.

In the past I used to work as a set and costume designer for theatre and TV, so I enjoy the research aspect of creating historical fiction, something I loved doing as a scenographer. Each book takes about six months of research before I am ready to begin writing. More details of my research and writing process can be found on my website. I like to write about extraordinary characters set against the background of real historical events.

I live in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District, a beautiful area made famous by the Romantic Poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge. I love exploring the mountainous landscapes and interesting coastline near my home.

Images: Church Mist & Couple Photos by cottonbro from Pexels
Others from Wikicommons Public Domain
& © Deborah Swift
other images via: Pixabay unless otherwise stated
Note: it is illegal to copy lyrics but there is no © for ideas

our stories or excerpts to enjoy

1st Deborah Swift  an excerpt from Pleasing Mr Pepys
2nd Graham BrackThe Clock Struck One
3rd Cindy VallarRumble the Dragon
4th Barbara Gaskell DenvilThe Great Forest
5th Nicky GalliersTwo Stories
6th Annie Whiteheadexcerpt from To Be A Queen
7th Judith Arnopp - an excerpt from The Winchester Goose
8th Paul Marriner - First Love
9th Loretta LivingstoneLabour of Love
10th Marian L. Thorpeexcerpt from Empire’s Heir
11th J G Harlond - excerpt from A Turning Wind
12th Amy Maroney - excerpt from Island of Gold
13th Richard Tearle - excerpt from the North Finchley Writer's Group
14th Inge H BorgExcerpt from After the Cataclysm
15th Juhi Ray the movie Jodha Akbar
16th Clare FlynnExcerpt from The Green Ribbons 
17th Anna Belfrage - A Light So Bright
18th Elizabeth St Johnexcerpt from Written in Their Stars
19th Nicky GalliersDuty
20th Erica LainĂ© - La Belle Russe
21st Anna Belfrage  - Excerpt from A Rip In The Veil
22nd Kathryn Gauci - Excerpt from The Poseidon Network
23rd Cryssa Bazos - Excerpt from Rebel's Knot

* * * 
you might also enjoy books by Helen Hollick
or direct to an Amazon near you

* King Arthur Trilogy
* the events that led to the Battle Of Hastings 1066
(includes US The Forever Queen USA Today Bestseller)
* the Sea Witch Nautical adventure series
* Cosy Mysteries

* Pirates
* Smugglers


  1. Lovely excerpt and from one of my favourite series!

  2. Thank you Helen for hosting me, and Cryssa for your lovely comment. I am actually old enough to remember 'my' song being a hit --- aargh!

  3. It might be that one day Deborah writes something which I don't enjoy, but it is not this day! A great excerpt and a cracking start to this year's series.

  4. Certainly makes me want to keep reading! And I didn't guess the song :(

  5. One of my favourite songs!
    Hooray for Pleasing Mr Pepys!

  6. Hi Deborah, enjoyed reading this intriguing excerpt (not a genre I know at all well) and I'm wondering about the tie-in to Pepys. I didn't guess the song but it's a great choice. Nicely done. Paul

  7. Exactly as Annie says. A super novel and lovely song.

  8. Great start to the December stories. I didn't guess the song but what a fab choice it is to kick start the series. Thanks Deborah,

  9. Did you compost my post Helen! I know I left one. Really enjoyed this, I should have guessed the song because it’s one of my favourites but I didn’t!

  10. My internet is finally back - thank you everyone for leavinbg such nice comments for Deborah's story excerpt!


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