Shauna Hegarty is a fictional archaeologist at an equally fictional university. We sent a reporter round to her Dublin flat for an ‘interview’.
I arrive at Shauna Hegarty’s flat with notebook and tape recorder clasped in my right hand, thinking myself lucky to grab the first interview with Scotland’s up-and-coming television presenter.
“Come in,” Shauna says with a smile when she opens the door. After handshakes and introductions she waves me toward a settee. Her grin is genuine and there is a girl-next-door informality in her manner. In fact, she seems ordinary in every way apart from her striking black haired, green-eyed beauty – she looks gorgeous even in her casual navy sweatshirt and jeans. And, unusually, her flat is clean and tidy!
She hands me a coffee and wraps both hands around her own drink as she settles into an armchair opposite me. There’s a brief, slightly uncomfortable silence while she regards me with her head cocked, which indicates she expects me to speak first. It also points to a natural shyness alongside her friendly exterior.
“So, how did you get involved in television?” I ask. “There’s no obvious leap from academia to media work.”
“I solved a riddle historians had been struggling with for years, completely by fluke.” Shauna’s eyes sparkle with enthusiasm. “I had some photos of ancient standing stones lined up in a random order, and a couple of things just stood out. Local telly gave me a brief interview when it made the news. They reckoned I was good in front of the camera, and after a couple of trials I was offered a pilot for a series on Scotland’s history. Contracts and boring stuff are being sorted at the moment.” She shrugs and her eyes lose that excitement.
“So, it’s the history driving you, not the fame and fortune.”
“I’ve only ever wanted to be an archaeologist. I can’t see the telly stuff taking over from that. Now I’ve finished my PhD I want to do research, not report on other people’s research. So, yes, it’s the history.”
“Ah.” I lean forward. “Look, an interviewer’s job is to find the real person behind the presenter. Tell me about the Shauna Hegarty that isn’t in the public domain.”
She sips coffee while giving a thoughtful frown. “I don’t think there is much. I’m pretty ordinary. I was brought up in Glasgow, moved to Dublin with Mum when my parents split, loved archaeology and wanted to make a career of it.” She shrugs. “That’s about it.”
“Is there no scandal? Is there anything I can excite the readers with?” I ask with mock sadness.
“Not really. I loathe spiders, if that’s any help. They petrify me.”
We laugh. “I’m thinking more along the lines of significant others. Boyfriend?”
Shauna flushes, and I think sips coffee to hide behind the mug she still clasps in both hands. “No.
There’s no boyfriend,” she says at last.
I’m surprised someone with Shauna’s looks and easy-going personality isn’t taken, but I don’t want to lose her trust so I don’t push it. I change the subject instead, and my gaze rests on the hammer lying on the coffee table. “D. I. Y.?” I ask.
Shauna looks at it. “A girl on her own, in this area of Glasgow. It’s in case of break-ins.” She places her coffee on the table and picks up the hammer. It seems to fit snugly in her right hand.
“Could you use it?” I ask. “If there was an intruder.”
She looks at the hammer nestling in her fist. “Yes, I think I probably could,” she says with a confidence that surprises me. A small part of me gets the impression she would almost like to try it out.
I change the subject again, away from dark thoughts. “So, I know you’ve got television work lined up, but you want to stay in archaeology. What are your shorter-term plans?
Her green eyes sparkle again. “It’s the end of summer term. Digging season has started, so I’m meeting a mate – Tessa, who I’ve known since our first day at university – for a working holiday.”
She glances away at the mention of Tessa’s name, but again I’d prefer not to lose the interview by pushing. Instead, I say, with my tongue firmly in my cheek, “I presume with your experience you’re in charge of the dig.”
She laughs. “Nope. I’m doing what I love best, getting up close with a trench, armed with only a trowel. A small village in the Scottish highlands called Dunmorgan, which has been settled since Celtic times.”
“Ah.” I’d not heard of the place. We make small talk while I finish my coffee, and I’m still struck by how easy Shauna is to get along with. After draining my mug I hold out a hand, and we shake. “I hope you enjoy the dig,” I say in passing.
“I will.” She smiles, then throws a mock grimace that doesn’t hide her beauty. “As long as there are no spiders.”
Her grin stays with me as I leave the flat.
‘Snuff’ was published by Damnation Books on 1 September 2015.
Archaeologist Shauna Hegarty is looking forward to a working holiday in the Scottish Highlands, but events take a serious when Shauna and her friend Tessa are kidnapped by violent thugs while exploring underground. Their nightmare has only just started – the gang makes money by forcing women to kill each other for an audience. The prospect terrifies Shauna, until she is forced into the ‘arena’ with another woman. Then she has to come to terms with a terrifying concept of enjoying the killing.