Winner of the inaugural Mslexia Novella prize.
Joan Smokes is set in the early 1960s and centres on a woman who attempts to escape the past by travelling to Las Vegas. It tackles themes of reinvention, grief, trauma and love.
She used to be someone else, but now she’s arrived in Vegas, where she can start again. It won’t do to let the past leak in. It’s the Sixties now. She’s going to become … Joan.
She makes a list: Buy a new dress (fitted, floral). Dye her hair (dark). Curl it. Buy red lipstick. Buy cigarettes and a lighter, too: Joan, she decides, is a smoker.
There’s no need to dwell on why she’s here, what went before. She is just moving forward, one foot in front of the other, becoming that new person. Joan.
This city of flashing neon, casinos and shows is full of distractions. Finding a job will be quick and easy. Things to do. New people to meet. A clean sheet.
She’s certainly not thinking about Jack, or … No. Not any more.
Her new life starts right here, right now.
Joan Smokes was released in December 2019.