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Monday 9 November 2015

☀ The Near Miss - Fran Cusworth

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for The Near Miss, a Contemporary Fiction novel by (, AUS Impulse, 200 pages).

PREVIEW: Check out the book's synopsis and excerpt below, as well as our Q&A with author Fran Cusworth.   Read the first two chapters with Amazon Look Inside.

Fran Cusworth will be awarding one ecopy of The Near Miss to three randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter during the tour.   Please do take part: comment on our post and follow the tour where you will be able to read other excerpts (☀), interviews (ℚ), reviews (✍) and guest blog posts (✉).

Synopsis | Teaser | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops


A near-death accident throws three very different people together, with far-reaching consequences ... LOVE ACTUALLY meets THE SLAP.

Grace, hardworking and tired, wants another baby. But she's dealing with debt, a manic 4-year-old and a jobless husband determined to make his inventions into reality. Can they both get their way, or will competing dreams tear their marriage apart?

Eddy analyses risk for a living, but his insecurities have brought his own life to a halt. He won't let go of the flighty, unfaithful Romy, but will he ever risk believing in himself?

Melody is trying to raise her son Skip in the city while holding true to her hippie lifestyle. But will past mistakes and judgement from other parents force her to leave her beliefs behind?

This is a story about real life aspirations, and whether you can chase your dreams at the same time as raising children and paying the bills. It's about friendship, and how the people you meet in a moment can change your life forever.

Teaser: Excerpt

Chapter 1

     One hot day, a young woman rushed her child’s stroller through spotlights of glaring sun, and lingered in rectangles of shade cast by the butcher, the baker, and the two-dollar shop. The woman’s four-year-old daughter was too large, really, to be strapped into the flimsy stroller — if the child had thought to stand up and walk, she could have carried the contraption on her back, like Atlas bearing the world. The girl pressed the backs of her sandals onto the stroller wheels, making them shudder to a halt, and Grace stumbled.
      ‘Lotte, please.’
      Lotte narrowed her green eyes. ‘I want to walk.’
      Grace stopped outside the newsagent to stare at the caged news headlines: Wildfires Rage. Ten Homes Lost. Train Rails Buckle in Heat. Nothing more about the recent mortgage rate rise. Maybe they should give up Lotte’s kindy gym classes. Or eat less. Or rent out a room to a student, a nice quiet girl who liked housework. Maybe Grace should work more. Or Tom should work more. Later, going over the events of that afternoon, she would see that her hot exhaustion, and her worry about money, had distracted her from the child.
      ‘When are we getting an ice cream?’ Lotte twisted in the stroller, which creaked at the joints. Please make it through one more trip home, oh piece of junk. It was like so many things these days: cheap, and bound to break. They passed a billboard ad for the local university: You Weren’t Born To Wait. As if some people might be born into some waiting caste, but not you — you had scored the lucky non-waiting card.
      ‘I want to get out.’
      ‘Just . . . wait.’
      At the ice-cream shop, people with sweating faces and glazed eyes spilled out of the doorway. Grace parked the stroller and unbuckled Lotte. She lifted her daughter, and held her on her hip.
      Nearby, a woman in a green tie-dye dress shared a tub of ice cream with her son. She raised a spoon to his mouth, revealing blonde armpit hair, slick with sweat. The little boy wore a shirt open over his milk-white chest, and a tattered straw hat. Check the woman’s dreadlocks, almost to her waist! Such commitment to a life less ordinary, probably spent in sharehouses traced with fragrant smoke, littered with motorbike helmets and half-painted canvases, where nobody had mortgages. Grace momentarily ached for such a life.
      She sighed. Maybe she should have done more in her twenties, taken a few more risks. She should have travelled to the Incas, even though there might have been bandits; she should have taken that Contiki tour of eastern Europe with her uni friends. Her back hurt; Lotte was too big to be carried. She lowered her daughter to the path. The red Subaru, somewhere to the north, speeding towards them, could not yet be seen.


      Melody watched the woman and the little girl, who was about Skipper’s age. The girl’s mother let one handle of her shoulder bag drop and she pawed through the bag, looking for something. She tsked, and sighed, and glanced around herself, catching Melody’s eye for a second. She hastily looked back to the bottomless bag; the answer to her problem was obviously in there. She frowned. Maybe infrastructure shares had plummeted, or the nanny had taken the day off? Maybe her Master of the Universe husband was having an affair with his life coach? Melody looked away. Oh, if she was going to survive back here in the big city she would have to learn to stop watching them all, and judging, or her head would fill up with stupid thoughts.
      Melody crouched in front of Skip, and fed him the final spoon of pistachio and chocolate ice cream, bought with the very last of their money. The universe would provide. A passing fat man walked across the hem of her green dress as it pooled on the pavement.
      She carried on her back a day-pack stuffed with groceries from the small supermarket next door. She had paid for the rice, but the cans of chick peas, the tofu, the olive oil and the curry paste had been slipped in when no one was looking. She didn’t shoplift much anymore. It was bad karma. But they had to live.
      Around them, ice cream melted over knuckles, and faces tilted this way and that, tongues protruding to catch drips. Old Italian mommas stood back-to-back with men in suits, and young women leaned on prams. City people all, their synthetic fabrics rustling, a different species from those Melody and Skipper had left behind on the commune. Here in the south, they were fatter. Whiter. Shinier, from their walnut-gloss heads to their coloured nails, their thin threads of overplucked eyebrows and their bald, shaven legs. Love yourselves, people! You are all beautiful blossoms of Nature. Even you, spotty teenage boys showing your underpant tops, and you, fat Greek men in belted pants.
      She checked her drawstring purse again for cash. Nothing. Just the stubs of two Greyhound bus tickets from Byron Bay to Melbourne. She sighed. There would be no going back. The commune had been heaven, until the druggies got in, with their money-belts of plastic baggies. The woman’s fatal overdose could have been predicted; but the death of the woman’s six-month-old baby through neglect had defeated all imagination. Melody had not known the woman well, but everything good died with the baby. The mangoes rotted on the trees, the waterfall ran dry, the lantana seized its chance to strangle veggie patches. Melody had packed her and Skipper’s backpacks, hitchhiked into Lismore and left on a bus heading south.
      Now, licking the bare ice-cream spoon, she glanced over at the small supermarket. An aproned man stood in the door, and raised a hand. Melody looked around, but it was at herself he was waving. He appeared to be wielding a phone. Her backpack of stolen goods grew heavy on her shoulder. Oh, please don’t let him have filmed her stealing. Anything that could land her in court, that could separate her from Skipper, could not be risked. She moved, and the cans of chick peas clunked in her pack. They had fallen to the bottom, and their metal corners stuck into her lower back. Her skin burned.

The Near Miss - available NOW!

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About the Author

Fran is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia.

She worked as a newspaper journalist for twenty years, and recently had a midlife career crisis and retrained as a nurse.

She won the Guy Morrison Prize for Literary Journalism in 2013.

She is married with two children and she once lived in a commune, like Melody, and at another time she desperately wanted a second child, like Grace. Like Tom, she has pursued a few foolish dreams, and like Eddy, her courage has at times failed her. This is her fourth novel.

Follow Fran Cusworth:

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Giveaway and Tour Stops

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