Carla J

Junior Writer | Exeter

Carla is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing and working on her second novel. Her first novel is due for publication in May 2024. She has a Masters (distinction) in Creative Writing and has been placed in several international competitions. Carla loves teaching and has several years of experience. She is passionate about how creative writing can be used for therapeutic purposes and to improve mental health. When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her in the forest or the yoga studio.
As a StoryTerrace writer, Carla interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below

The trees are black feathery lines against a violet sky and there is no wind. The deer tilts her head, listens. Dad raises the rifle to his shoulder and aims. Fires. The deer falls and her eyes close. An elegant slump, she drops on the spot unaware. Venison for dinner. That’s how I pictured it, but when I call Mum she says, your Dad didn’t shoot the deer; he used a pitchfork.

Last month, I attended my maternal grandmother’s funeral. Aunt Janet stood up and shared some memories. I thought I should get some down about Dad – not to read at his funeral, that was a long time ago – more as a record. If I don’t write them, the memories will be lost and disappear like words that slip out of the dictionary without anyone noticing.

‘Why did I think he shot it?’ I say to Mum.

‘He was pulled over a couple of days later for driving without tax; the policeman saw the blood on the back seats of the car and found a sawn-off shotgun in the boot,’ she says. The story must have gotten mixed up in my child's brain. Now I wonder if it happened more like this...

June 1973, around ten in the evening. Dad, Uncle Graham and Dougie Sands drive to Bedfords Park in Romford, home to a herd of captive red deer. They make roll-ups from their packs of Golden Virginia and they joke and laugh. Dougie purses his lips and blows smoke through the hole where a front tooth is missing. They park up. Dad opens the boot and takes the pitchfork out, Uncle Graham takes the bolt cutters out, Dougie closes the boot. Teamwork. Eight hundred metres on, they get to the fence that cordons off the Deer Enclosure and throw the tools over, then they climb over. Deer are naturally wary of humans, have a sharp sense of vision, an excellent sense of smell, so I’m not sure how Dad, Uncle Graham and Dougie manage to close in on one, but they do.

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