CJ Flood’s ‘Nightwanderers’ is out today! Rosie and Ti’s adventures are definitely going to inspire some nightwandering – it’s something that CJ and her friend always did as teens.
To nightwander. To wander aimlessly at night.
The quality of a conversation depends on many variables. People are crucial, but setting is important too. Fourth period plus PE kit plus drizzle equals a lacklustre, deflated sort of chat. Biscuits plus soft furnishings plus TV equals a nonsense and jingle-filled background kind of blah. Darkness plus hillside plus moonlight? That makes for something else altogether.
In ‘Nightwanderers’, Rosie and Ti understand the specialness of the night time. They use it to escape the many mundanities and injustices of their lives, to roam together and confide in each other, and feel exceptional and rare. It’s something I miss, having done a lot of it as a teen, and to celebrate the release of my second book I headed out with my friend, Molly, to see if we could tap into the old magic.
Traditionally, nightwandering took place in the dark just before sunrise, but Molly and I headed out at sunset instead. The sky over the Somerset countryside was pink and coral, the long grass dotted with buttercups and daisies and dandelion clocks. At the top of the hill we sat, and I wove Molly a buttercup crown while she invented stories about the boys she had grown up with, and the world tilted into darkness.
The air was warm and smelled of drying grass, and I’d forgotten precisely how peaceful the dusk is, how the dark gets so close to your skin that you feel you are inside it. The night offered things up for us to share, to draw us closer together. An invisible cow, whose harrumph on the other side of a hedge we passed made us squeeze each other with terror, and an unseen deer, whose cloved feet we heard tap the lane up ahead. Bats circled and foxes screeched and we even saw a shooting star.
Walking at night is like raiding the universe’s stock cupboards for its secret stash of time. The rules, regulations and hierarchies of the daytime are tidied away like office shoes and frying pans, not needed now, and your priorities shift. All that matters is this moment, and the night’s prizes; the two of you and now. So take back the night with your friends, I implore you.
Of course it is imperative to stay safe when nightwandering, and so if you are under sixteen, ask an adult to walk with you. Set your alarm for the hour before sunrise, grab a snack, and head outside with your chosen ones. Walk to a beautiful or serene spot near your house (graveyards are often perfect if you’re not easily spooked) and claim it as your own. With all the people tucked in, and the cars silent, the landscape itself seems to dream. Everything is just for you. The world your secret garden.
If you go out nightwandering in June, tag us on Twitter and Instagram with your adventures and use the hashtag #nightwandering!
Have you ever been nightwandering? Tell us about it at @maximumpopbooks!
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