I touch the brown page I tore from Gran’s old recipe book. Rough yet warm and powdery: like her hand was when she gave it to me. So old, this recipe. How many plates of soup have come from it? How many excellent thoughts?
“One large leek,” the recipe reads. I will find out what a leek is and dice it, so I will.
Helen Fitzgerald, Parts Beyond the Sky
In the second of the 21 Revolutions writers podcasts, Helen Fitzgerald reads her new story, Parts Beyond the Sky, and talks about the inspiration behind the work. Listen to the podcast here.
Inspired by Scottish Women’s Rural Institutes Cookery Book, 1947
The Scottish Women’s Rural Institute was founded in 1917. Their cookbooks aimed to produce healthy, nutritious food for all the family. Memorable recipes include Blaand, an oatmeal based substitute for champagne, and invalid soup.
“Before I went into the library, I’d been reading The Floating Brothel, about women convicts sent as ‘cargo’ to Australia in 1789. I’d also been listening to the debate about the poor conditions in Cornton Vale Prison. It made me wonder how much has changed for women in the criminal justice system in the last 200 years.
“In the GWL archives, I found a weathered cookery book, the kind my Mum passed on to me, with recipes like lentil soup that make you feel safe, happy and at home.
“Combine these ideas and I found myself writing a story about women being transported from Cornton Vale to service workers at an asteroid mine in space. My character takes the recipe book her Gran gave her, hoping the warmth and familiarity of it will help her cope in this bizarre and terrifying new environment.
“Sound weird and awful? Yes. Almost as terrible as what happened to those women 200 years ago.”
About Helen Fitzgerald
Born in Melbourne, Australia and one of thirteen children, Helen FitzGerald moved to Glasgow in 1991. She was a social worker in Glasgow’s notorious Barlinnie Prison before becoming a full-time writer. Her adult thrillers include Dead Lovely, My Last Confession, Bloody Women, The Donor and The Devil’s Staircase. Her books have been translated into numerous languages. Her YA thriller, Deviant, is to be published in 2013 by Sohoteen. Cry (Faber and Faber) is also out in 2013.