Snippet: The Dark Citadel

In a high, airy room of the Parliament Building, looking down on the great square, a short man in military uniform paced angrily. Standing to attention, Principal Anastasias of the Providence Central Institute for Girls, almost two heads taller and infinitely more distinguished than his superior, might have been tempted to smile at the little man’s posturing, but he waited in respectful silence. The Lord High Protector certainly looked like a rosy-cheeked buffoon, but his small hog-like eyes glittered with malice.

“Of course, she must be punished like any other unruly child,” the Protector said, wheeling round smartly on his heels to face the principal. “But was it absolutely necessary to lock her in the House of Correction? Would a good whipping not have sufficed?”

The principal put his hands together in an ecclesiastical pose, and an expression of serene superiority settled on his hawk-like features. “The city is already rife with sedition, Excellency, treason, and heresy among the Ignorant population. The girl is just one example of how evil has wormed its way into the population, picking out the most susceptible and turning them into champions of the Serpent Witch. In your own household, Excellency, the Lady Selene—”

“Leave my wife out of this, Principal! She is my problem and mine alone. A single headstrong female with delusions of grandeur hardly amounts to a threat to State security.”

The principal bent his head in the briefest of bows. “As you wish, Excellency. You know the Lady Selene’s capacity for meddling better than anyone. You must decide how best to curb it.”

“Thank you, Principal Anastasias, for according me the right to act as master in my own home,” the Protector said with a facetious curl of his lip. “Now, this girl. She has, of course, rebellious tendencies—it’s in the blood and to be expected. But she must not be allowed to go too far. It is your job to stop her, to nip these notions in the bud. Imagine if her rebellious instinct drove her to commit an unpardonable crime. How could she be executed? How could we execute our only, most precious hostage?”

“Perhaps, Your Excellency, it would be better to crush the venomous serpent now, before she has a chance to contaminate other young minds. It could be done…discreetly. Now that she is safely locked away, who would know?” The principal spoke softly, suavely. “Remember Eve, the bane of Mankind? The Book says—”

“Don’t quote the Book at me!” His Excellency the Lord High Protector stamped his glossy-booted foot. “Have you not listened to a thing I’ve been saying? You seem to forget that the vermin who spawned this child is loose in the desert. Of course, you could easily hide the murder of an anonymous schoolgirl from the population. What would they care anyway? But you could never hide it from her mother. And if, in her wrath, the green whore decided to throw her army of demons and monsters at Providence, then what? What defence have we ever had but the Serpent’s own daughter? And you want to cut the little bitch’s throat? Talk sense, man!”

“The hostage is not our only defence, Excellency,” the principal corrected. “The Lord Abaddon, they say, is assembling a formidable host in the desert. He desires the destruction of the Witch as much as we do—”

“Because he desires her power,” the Protector interrupted.

“And once he has destroyed her,” the principal carried on unperturbed, “think what an ally he would be. His army could rid us of all the traitors and partisans of the Witch and turn Providence into the most impregnable citadel, the hub of the greatest power the world has ever known.” The principal’s eyes glittered; his voice was loud and exalted.

The Protector eyed him coldly. “So, you would have me open the gates of Providence to Abaddon and his demons?”

“Demons, Excellency?” the principal objected in the smoothest, most diplomatic way. “The Ignorants have certainly spread lies about the Iron Horde, as they have about their filthy Serpent Witch, to create fear and unrest among the population. But who has seen these demons? Of course The Book makes great mention of the evil spirits that inhabit the desert, but surely this can be taken in a, let us say, metaphorical sense, suitable to the understanding of, how shall I put it, unformed minds?”

The Lord High Protector’s expression hardened. “Stick to what you know, school-teacher. Go back to your maidens, give orders to your matrons, timetable your sewing classes. But leave the defence of Providence to men who have seen more than you have dreamt of in your worst nightmares.”

The principal bowed his head, but not before the Protector had seen the furious glitter in his eyes.

Like it? You can read the whole story for a measly 99c/p

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Thank you!

Yesterday the final book in The Pathfinders went on general release. I have been touched by the support of my lovely blogger friends. There’s not much I can do by way of thanks except to give a few books away.

If you have enjoyed reading Abomination and would like to read what happens next, I can offer you a review copy of the second volume Devastation.

Devastation

If you’re undecided about whether or not you want to jump down that wormhole, I suggest you read this excerpt first. (just click on the image)

Pete's Story

If you have read Abomination and it wasn’t your cup of tea but you’d like to sample something from The Green Woman, you can download this short story set in her world.

Security alert future

If you have read Security Alert and feel you could cope with some more, I’d be pleased to let you have a copy of The Dark Citadel. It’s totally different to The Pathfinders, even though it is also set in a dystopia, more magical and my own children’s favourite.

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Drop me a line through the contact form if you’d like a copy of either Devastation or The Dark Citadel, and thank you again for your support, you make the bother all worthwhile 🙂

Twinkle…not

The Daily Post prompt word is twinkle. Unless I was being facetious or writing about little stars, twinkle is a word I would avoid, so I am going to hijack this prompt for publicity purposes.

So, what words would I use instead of twinkle?

There’s the glint of the dull metal of the Black Boys’ hand guns; glitter like the first sunlight Deborah sees in her life, falling through the pines on the far side of the mountains; the gleam of the guiding light that draws Oscar and the Fianna across the western ocean, and the gold brocade cushions and robes of the Green Woman’s litter; or the glow of the furnace of Moloch, the pits of Hell, the eyes of Abaddon, the home fires in Underworld.

I would describe the first spark of green life in the desert wastes when the Green Woman discovers her magic; the sparkle of the first stars to shine down on the earth when the dust and burning sands of destruction are blown away; the way the hemisphere shone like a gas bubble on a pool of putrefaction; the dazzle of light from the sword that cut through Abaddon’s darkness; the flash of a dart of power hooking a behemoth and catching a fallen angel; the shimmer of illusion as Loki shifts from fox to rat to falcon to kelpie to warrior; the flicker of pale underbellies beneath the murky brown waters of the Great River of Death; the wink of the silver cloak pin in the moonlight of Oscar’s room.

But I wouldn’t use twinkle.

You can read lots of other words that I would and have used here:

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Fiction or fantasy?

I’ve written often, ad nauseam some will probably say, about young adult readers, who they are, and does it matter. For a change, I thought I’d dip into another questionable category that I have trouble with—fantasy. Fiction is opposed to fact. Logically, all made-up writing is fiction, stuff that didn’t happen and, in some cases, never could happen because the situations described are so ludicrous. Yet there exists a category known as fantasy in which things that didn’t happen and possibly never could happen are segregated from other unbelievable, unrealistic fictions.
So, what’s the difference between fiction and fantasy? The notion of acceptable and unacceptable reality has never existed in children’s literature. Not even in the days when there were just children and adults, and young adults hadn’t been invented. In children’s literature it has always been accepted that wardrobes might lead into magical worlds, you could have wrinkles in time, and visitors from parallel worlds are reasonably common. They are all just STORIES.
Probably most adults believe in the supernatural, and I include God and angels in this bracket. They believe in things they haven’t seen, that defy the laws of logic and physics. People gamble on lucky numbers, wear lucky charms, recite lucky incantations. We don’t believe in coincidence. Since forever, human beings have invented and woven, mysteries, legends, impossible stories around rocks, rivers, memorable people and events. That is how stories began.
Something has changed in our perception of reality. As far as literature is concerned, reality is not real unless it is so absolutely familiar as to be on the limit of boring. Literary fiction has to be so founded in what most of us have either experienced or can imagine experiencing in the ordinary run of events, as to be almost predictable. The ‘might have been’, the ‘could be’, the ‘wouldn’t it be wonderful if’ have no place in the new definition of literature. The pure, cold beauty of the language, the way phrases are constructed, replaces the wild flights of fancy of the old storytellers. Introversion and dreary interior monologues on interminable journeys to nowhere have replaced escapes from enemies with incredible superpowers, elopements and betrayals, curses, compromises, battles, wars and adventures in the shape of birds and animals. This ‘realistic’ school of fiction is the one that is equated with ‘literary’. Everything else is ‘genre’ and considerably lower down the food chain.
If you look at the Amazon classification of such flights of magical fantasy as The Earthsea Cycle, you will find that the words ‘literary fiction’ are far more in evidence than the word ‘fantasy’. Same for The Handmaid’s Tale. ‘Dystopian’ doesn’t even figure. They are classics, therefore they cannot be lumbered with the slightly pejorative epithet of ‘fantasy’. I don’t mind admitting that The Green Woman series and The Pathfinders are fantasy since most stories are pure fantasy. It would be nice, though, to think that this admission wasn’t tantamount to agreeing that I write second-rate literature.
What do you think? It ain’t what you write it’s the way that you write it?

This post wouldn’t be complete without a plug for my books, would it?
Why not try The Dark Citadel for starters. It’s only 99c/p and it might change your life 🙂

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Amazon.co.uk

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A plug for The Green Woman

It’s promotion weekend, so I’ll get the Green Woman news out of my system in one fell swoop.

Although I love the covers Kate Wrath made for me and they’d appeal to me as a member of the book-buying public, they are maybe sending out the wrong sort of messages. I’d also like to get away from the YA first and foremost tag. The Green Woman books are fantasy. There’s nothing in them that points at a particular demographic,  so I’m loath to hone the ‘targetting’ to say, girls between the ages of twelve and fourteen who live in a comfortable suburbia with one sibling, both parents and two new cars. And who like cats, dislike the colour yellow and have a slight weight problem.

To this end, I have given the series new covers, new blurbs and new amazon categories. I might be shooting myself in the foot, but a change is always good, and at this particular moment, I’m practicing letting go.

Here’s the series blurb

The Green Woman tells a story of hope. There is immense cruelty and evil, inhumanity and ugliness in her world, but like everything in nature, there is balance, so there is also courage and kindness, goodness and generosity. But in the life cycle, there is struggle, and not all seeds will grow, not all young ones grow to adulthood. The story of the Green Woman is the story of all those who help build the future, even though they will never see it.

I’ve also dropped the price of The Dark Citadel, the first book, to 99c/p so if you haven’t read it, it won’t break the bank to give it a whirl.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

The new blurb

When all you have are memories, and all you’re promised is a warped husband, even Hell seems like a reasonable option.

In a violent, repressive world, where every colour is grey, every move monitored, every thought sifted, and every future set from birth, Deborah kicks against the traces. She wants more than a life of mindless drudgery.

Something in the back of her memories, something bright and vibrant, rippling with laughter, soft as a breath of wind, keeps telling her:

There is more. Just reach out and grab it, before the Protector puts it out of reach forever.

So she resolves to break out of her prison, determined to discover the real purpose of her life, though it means braving the haunted desert. And before she walks flat-footed into the first trap, the vibrant, laughing memory reaches out his hand to help her.

 

Here are the new, old movie poster style covers. Hope you like them.

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TSF future

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