Wednesday, 29 October 2014

OCTOBER: Fairy tales and first chapters (including an excerpt of Love In The Gilded Age!)

 The Wandering is now out in the world in shiny paperback form!! It's very pink and, in my opinion, very pretty. If you signed up to the waiting list, your copy is winging its way to you right now. You can find a couple photos of The Wandering over on my instagram (and follow me if you're into books and photos of my cat.)

But this month isn't only the paperback release of The Wandering - it's the month Love In The Gilded Age comes out! It's not actually set in the Gilded Age, rather a fantasy world called Fissure, and is an anthology of fairy tales retold with a focus on diversity. The title is a nod to one of the fairy tales -  Rumplestilskin - in which the protagonist is expected to spin straw into gold. All the main characters of the anthology are people of colour, one of them is a lesbian, and one of them is disabled (a supporting character also has partial hearing.) LITGA explores themes and ideas I think traditional fairy tales lack - ladies saving themselves (and other ladies!), ladies being in charge of their sexuality, and so on.

It's out today, so I hope you'll check it out and buy it. It's just 99 cents/77 pennies and available on Amazon for Kindle. If you want to read the blurb or know more about the anthology, click the other books link on the navigation bar above, or visit my website.

Want a sneak peek at Love In The Gilded Age?
Read on for the first chapter of A Fortress of Thorns, a retelling of Brier Rose (Sleeping Beauty)

a hundred years ago

“I gift you with the curse of death.”

Rosany took out the little orb of her birthing celebration and listened to it as she did every day. When she was young, the voice had reminded her of flames crackling, had scared her to tears. It still scared her but she didn’t cry. Rosany only cried when she was alone, and she wasn’t on her own here in the memory room. Five guards lines the walls, watching her with steadfast vigilance for her own protection. She ought to have felt safe but she felt stifled.

The far wall was a crosshatch of boxes on shelves, each of them clutching an orb identical to the one Rosany held timidly, each one containing a memory deemed important enough to archive. The queendom used to be full of them, when it had been a kingdom and her father had been alive, but the magic that was needed to record the memories had long since dwindled. Taul was barren of magic now, and Rosany didn’t know how to replenish it.

“I gift you with sleep in the place of death.”

The only bit of magic in all the queendom was the curse placed on Rosany and the gift meant to counteract it. Some gift, Rosany thought scornfully. I would have welcomed death, if only to be relieved of these expectations. But the brainlessly kind wise woman had gifted her with endless sleep—whenever her life faded, she would sleep and only sleep until she was woken. Rosany would never die, would never know the peace of the afterlife.

She shelved the orb and stood, holding back her tears as she swept out of the room, trailed by two of her guards. As soon as she reached her rooms, she collapsed onto a settee and wept.

“When you become sixteen you will suffer an instant death, and all shall remember the fate that befalls those who insult me.”

Why couldn’t you have just invited all thise wise women in the realm to my birth party? Rosany thought hatefully at her parents. They were dead now, but she sometimes liked to think they could hear all the troubled thoughts and terror they had brought upon her. And all for the sake of preserving money. What kind of foolish king would risk angering the only women in the kingdom with true power as opposed to spending a little more coin?

Rosany hated him, and hated her mother for letting him be so stupid.

The sun outside the massive windows was lightening from charcoal to light purple. Dawn would soon be here, and so would twenty three minutes past dawn—the exact time Rosany would turn sixteen.
Will it hurt? she mused. Or will I not feel a thing?

“I don’t care,” she said to herself. “I’m damned either way. What difference is a bit of pain?”

Dawn came and went, and Rosany transferred herself to the bed, tears trickling freely down her cheeks. She lay back and waited for the curse to come over her, helpless and furious. What kind of Queen am I that I give up at the first sign of a struggle?

But this wasn’t a struggle. This wasn’t something she could overcome. The only way to survive the curse was to wake up, and the stupid wise woman hadn’t thought to tell her or her parents how to wake herself when the time came for Rosany to return to Taul and her people.

At least Rosany didn’t need to worry about her people. She’d seen to it that they’d be cared for and her queen’s guard would make sure things stayed exactly as they were now—no riots or rebellions would arise, no looting of the castle nor theft of the locals. No violence whatsoever would be allowed, lest the aggressor welcome death.

But how she wished she could stay with them!

The enchanted air chiller came to life above her, blasting tingling cold through her clammy room, and Rosany felt her limbs become heavy. Seconds later her eyelids drooped. Her last thought was: so this disaster is painless after all.

“When you become sixteen you will not die, but fall into a deep sleep until it is safe for you to wake.”

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