“She’d never had any truck with the supernatural, but now and again she did sense something in the air around the dead … a faint fizzing. The last trace of the energy that had animated them for a lifetime, perhaps, hanging there like unspent static.”
Cassie Raven is a mortuary attendant with a sense of vocation. The people in her care may be dead but they are still people, and Cassie is their dedicated custodian. She prepares them for post-mortem analysis as carefully as a nurse tends the living on a hospital ward. She helps the pathologist, as she puts it, to “try to give [their families] some answers.” And Cassie sometimes comes up with answers of her own.Cassie is the protagonist of Cut And Paste, a short crime story by Anya Lipska, which goes out on Radio 4 this afternoon.
I’ve been increasingly drawn to crime lately. For another project, I’ve been trying to source published crime stories that might fit, or could be made to fit, the strict parameters of the ‘radio short’. They are out there, but – given that even short crime works tend to rely on the twist and turn – finding them is harder than you think. Far better, then, to commission a bespoke tale: easier for me but still a real challenge for the writer. Anya Lipska has risen to it. Cut And Paste a rounded tale driven less by detection than the need to find evidence. This would be impressive enough. But she has also created a vibrant character and an entire ‘precinct’ – all in just 13 minutes.Ellie Kendrick is probably best-known for her role as Anne in a BBC adaptation of The Diary Of Anne Frank some years ago, and recently as Meera Reed in Game Of Thrones. Cut And Paste is written, mostly, from Cassie’s point of view, but it isn’t a first person narrative. Some radio readers ‘read’ their stories, others ‘inhabit’ them – both these approaches can yield fine results. But Ellie seems to go beyond this, not so much reading this story as becoming it, to the extent that it was difficult not to call her Cassie while we were recording – and at one point someone did just that. She is a special talent.
Anya Lipska is the author of the ‘Kiszka and Kershaw’ trilogy, crime novels set in the Polish community in London’s East End: Where The Devil Can’t Go; Death Can’t Take A Joke and A Devil Under The Skin. We produced a Kiszka ‘prequel’ – Another Kind Of Man – as part of our Angielski season for Radio 4 in 2015.
Cassie is leading her by the hand into new and beguiling territory …
Cut And Paste by Anya Lipska will TX at 3.45 pm on Friday 18 August 2017 on BBC Radio 4. It will available for 30 days thereafter on BBCiPlayer.
See also: http://www.sweettalkproductions.co.uk; Angielski; and an interview with Ellie Kendrick in the Daily Telegraph education pages this week: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/university-checklist/ellie-kendrick-interview/