In Winter 2020, the day I finished the third draft of my first novel – a mother-daughter chronicle based on my Iranian mother’s life and her sudden death in the Indian ocean – I drove out to the setting of the final chapter, Birling Gap, along the Seven Sisters, on the Sussex Coast, to mark the milestone. I walked up onto the chalk cliffs, sat, dreamed .. and found myself scribbling notes for an unexpected epilogue to the book, I See You Now. I then wandered back down the cliff and into the visitor centre. I was immediately struck by a thick, white line painted across the floor in front of me, slicing halfway across the space, marked 2053. I enquired, but no-one working there could tell me what the plan might be for when the cliff edge and sea will have reached this point… and I found myself focusing on our fragility, on edges and on future horizons. And on belonging.
This is the story that emerged. It is also an invitation. If you are able to go outside at the moment, and are in reach of the coast or water’s edge, I invite you to take this track (click on the Soundcloud strip above to play) with you on headphones – and something to write with – for enhanced listening, and perhaps a response. It’s around 16 minutes long.
I have written a blog for New Writing South, read here, on the journey to becoming a writer, where I talk more about how I developed this piece, the genre of speculative fiction and this project as a call to decolonise the histories connected to our coastal lands going forward within this new paradigm we find ourselves in. I am now developing the next stories and a full programme inspired by the themes and setting of this prologue, in partnership with the South Downs National Park and supported by a project grant from Arts Council England (and a cluster of partners) until end of 2022. This will be going public in late June.
Voice: Alinah Azadeh. Sound: Sonic Boom Audio
If you want to hear more as We See You Now develops, join my mailing list, I send occasional updates.
We See You Now (prologue) was funded by an R&D project grant from Arts Council England, with extensive writer support from New Writing South, plus Live Art Development Agency (study residency), Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre, and Writing Our Legacy . R&D Mentors; Lucy Day and Louise Blackwell via an AN Bursary in early 2019. Dramaturgical support: Joanna Rosenfeld, Nimmy March. And my beta listeners /readers – in particular Adam Lowe at Inscribe/ Peepal Tree Press, writer Emily Lassalle and all the Retreat Writers.