This week I am delighted to have a slice of cake with author Matilda Scotney.
Matilda is a former professional classical singer, musical director and actor. She wasted part of her youth as a stand-up comic and folk singer trolling the London Underground stations with her guitar and singing Irish folk songs. When she finished her music studies with the Royal College of Music, she took up acting. Matilda knew she was getting too old to continue in the theatre when she started getting cast in parts such as Granny in the stage version of The Addams Family. Instead, she took up scriptwriting for local amateur theatres and also offered her services as a voice coach and director which was huge fun. Now Matilda is a happily retired Star Wars nerd who lives life with very little seriousness in a house ruled by a five-inch high chihuahua. Her home is in the mid-west of Western Australia. And she likes to write.
What kind of books do you write?
I love the idea of Time Travel and a utopian future. My first two books were on those themes. My second series was more interdimensional, multiverse, galactic empire but I love all my characters to be on some sort of mission of self-discovery. I always add in a touch of the metaphysical as well. And I like to write.
Can you describe your writing why?
It started with Star Wars in 1977! I wanted to build worlds too! And now I do. Simply being able to imagine worlds and universes and bringing people to life in my stories is my motivation. I also draw on events in the news, from history and people I see in my everyday routines. Changing the context of a life, an event, a location in my imagination; it’s very compelling.
Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most
Oh crumbs. This is a really hard question. I love all of my first two books, The Afterlife of Alice Watkins Books One and Two. But I think the prologue for The Soul Monger Book One is nicely chilling, particularly as it is a tale of intergalactic slavery. I hope it’s not too long.
Scotland Yard: Missing Persons Files (Cold Cases–Overseas Agencies) Summary research only.
Christmas Eve, 2008: A family of five headed home after a pre-Christmas get-together with friends. Travelling along the M25 motorway near Junction 20 at Hemel Hempstead, their car collided with a speeding drunk driver who’d strayed into their lane. The force of the impact lifted the family’s car into the air before it plunged to the ground and rolled several times before landing on its roof. Horrified witnesses rushed to help, but the car was already a fireball, and flames beat back any would-be rescuers. Emergency services recovered four bodies from the burnt-out wreck of the family’s car. Anxious friends later told police a teenaged girl accompanied her parents and two
brothers on the journey; a fact corroborated by a service station attendant who spoke to the family less than ten minutes before the accident. Witnesses testified no-one could have walked away from such carnage. The girl was never found.
This and other strange, unsolved cases of missing persons are listed on several government databases. The files date back more than a century and make extraordinary reading although the very early accounts are poorly documented, often recording the attending police officer’s mistrust in the witness’s descriptions and making personal observations about intoxication and “seeking notoriety”. Later incidents, those which occurred within living memory, are profiled more efficiently and without bias; such as the 1964 disappearance of a young man from a locked, virtually windowless cell in a South African prison; or the nurse who left a Chicago hospital very early one January morning in 2018, and was witnessed by a cab driver vanishing into “thin air”. (The cabbie’s blood alcohol reading accompanied the report).
An intriguing entry, from 2017, reported the disappearance of an Australian woman in Bali. Her departure was reported to police by a Balinese masseuse who described her missing client as, “Gone! Poof! Just like that!”
Equally compelling is the 2012 account of a German woman, witnessed by several of her colleagues getting into her car in an underground car park when she was due at an important meeting. Three of the witnesses went to speak to her, but the car was empty, the keys in the ignition and the woman’s shoes kicked off in the driver’s seat well.
But perhaps the most bizarre? In a small Sicilian town in the spring of 1991, a woman and her child went to chat with their elderly neighbour, whom they’d known for years. As they approached, the man, “walked into the scenery, out of sight”. Why was this more bizarre than the others? According to the report, the man stepped purposefully, and as he vanished, he looked at the mother and child, and waved.
Police enquiries found homes left as if the occupant planned to return; food in the fridge, open bank accounts (which went untouched), and in the case of the Sicilian man, the washing machine in mid-cycle. Mystified workmates and employers were unable to shed light on their colleague’s disappearance and in every event, no doctors’ records documented any psychiatric disorders.
In time, these and the mystery of the teenaged girl were packaged together and marked as cold cases. A scribbled memo sticky-taped to the lid of the archive box lends a poignant epitaph:
“Bill, (Archivist) These are the foreign ones. I put the English kid in as well. Scan ‘em and shove the physical files in the archives. Don’t waste resources. They’re gone.”
Tell us about your latest project
I’m currently writing the third and final book in The Soul Monger series. The series starts with an intergalactic war and deals with slavery, war and intrigue and focuses on the main character’s quest to find the origins of humankind. It has a strong metaphysical and visionary theme throughout and as in my other books, deals with the ordinary human finding themselves facing the extraordinary.
What is your favourite cake?
Join me next week when I'll be having a slice of cake with Eithne Cullen.
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