Felicity Fair Thompson is a writer and film maker and lives on the Isle of Wight. Her documentary Carisbrooke Castle was broadcast on SKY TV and three of her other fourteen independently made travel films for the retail market, were shown on Australian television. She has taught Creative Writing for Screen South, Connexions, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight College, and alongside Sir Andrew Motion for the Bi-centenary celebrations for Alfred, Lord Tennyson, as well as guiding young writers with learning difficulties, and teaching independently. Her published writing includes three children’s stories, an EU funded community play, theatre reviews, personality profiles, award winning poetry, scenic travel features, and three novels: Cutting In was one of three top finalists in the People’s Book Prize 2014. The Kid on Slapton Beach has received rave reviews. Hold Tight is her latest novel.
Exit the King, performed at the 2017 Ventnor Isle of Wight Fringe Festival, and in January 2018 at Carisbrooke Castle, was her first stage play.Now she and the writer and historian Tim Wander have combined their writing talents to produce this first of two stage play: Voices Over Passchendaele.
As World War One begins, twenty-two year old Peter Pendleton Eckersley is aiming at refining the hopelessly inadequate radio sets being tested in the planes of the Royal Flying Corps. Grounded and sent back to England by his C.O to the Brooklands Wireless Testing Development School in Surrey, Eckersley’s ideas work. In July 1917 with the Royal Flying Corps equipped with Eckersley’s ground to air voice radio supporting the artillery, the battle of Passchendaele is coming.
After seeing a Covent Garden production of Sleeping Beauty by chance on TV one Christmas, 13 year old Elaine Higham has a revelation. Suddenly she knows that classical ballet is her future. Absolutely nothing less would do. Starting so late in life Elaine would have to work harder than any of her peers and fight tooth and claw to realise her ambition. Exacting and unforgiving, her new career path would test her to the very limits.
After four intense years at dance school, she wins a coveted place at a top dance academy – hungry and calculating she channels her fierce desire in order to succeed. Modelling herself on the academy’s star pupil – a girl with innate grace, beauty and style – becomes an obsession. An obsession that takes her beyond the bounds of propriety. And as the passionate dancer in her emerges, so awakens the young woman, and suddenly there is so much more at stake.
Written from Elaine’s view-point, Cutting In whisks you away to another world. A world of pointe shoes, of stinging tendons, of pushing nerves, sinews, muscles, bones to the extremes of endurance. But most of all to the world of an unselfconfident yet ferociously driven teenager, single minded about her objective and ruthless in her pursuit of it.
If you’re expecting frilly pink tutus you’ll be disappointed. This is a gutsy book. With her customary skills of observation and perception Felicity Fair Thompson achieves something in this novel that other writers might baulk at – to get inside the head of a complex teenager on the cusp of womanhood, to see the world through her eyes. Peopled with recognisable characters and set in the familiar landscapr of London and Sussex, it is yet the interior world of the novel’s protagonist, achingly vulnerable and scheming by turns and shot through with irresistible darkness, which intrigues.
Well paced and holding the tension like a perfect arabesque, Cutting In will have you guessing right up until the last page.