Triolet for Deborah

When the world is hopeless, coloured dull and grey,

Beyond the walls the unknown swirls its sandy skirts,

With the voice of wraiths that flee the light of day.

When the world is hopeless, coloured dull and grey,

Priests intone, black guards enforce the rule to pray,

You find the light, the green, the life so bright it hurts.

When the world is hopeless, coloured dull and grey,

Beyond the walls, the unknown swirls its sandy skirts.


I think this triolet works. The world of The Green Woman is grey and hopeless, ruled by a miserable, cruel theocracy. Beyond the city walls is desolation, full of unknown horrors. But beyond is also a budding green place, a garden of Eden, a new start. Something, someone, needs to start the rebellion, the exodus, to find it. The world is grey, but the desert’s swirling skirts hide the key to a new life.

A constant theme in my novels is the search for a utopia. Not necessarily to find one ready made, but to build one. The Green Woman books are about Deborah’s search for her mother, herself, and a better world than one she has been presented with. The altruistic motivation doesn’t come to her immediately. It grows on her as she discovers that she might be able to change things, and the acceptance, that if she can change things, she has a duty to do it.

I like the notion that we all have a responsibility for those around us, and one of the tropes in fantasy fiction I find least appealing is the whipping up of armies, the killing of thousands, to fulfil one person’s ambition, to restore one person’s ‘rightful’ inheritance. There’s nothing ‘rightful’ about leadership. It has to be earned. Birth counts for nothing. The reverse is also true—the recognition of wrong brings an obligation to do something about it, however insignificant or useless we might feel.

Mighty leaders at the head of mighty armies does nothing for me as a literary construct. Cooperation, solidarity, mutual respect are all far more important. The grass grows without being forced; the sun shines for everyone. Putting aside differences and working hand in hand is the only way for any society to succeed. If you believe that too, you might like The Green Woman.

Book One: The Dark Citadel is free over the next few days.

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Version Two: No buts

Is this an improvement?

Deborah has a secret
Though she doesn’t know what it is.
The Protector does
And so does Abaddon, the demon king.
Both of them want her destroyed.

Between them, Jonah and Deborah have forged a weapon
that even the demon fears:

With this arm, the pariah girl and the dog boy
will change the world.

Or die in the attempt.

The but censors should prefer it anyway.(This line isn’t in the blurb, Fran :))

For the readers who don’t like arms either, there’s this version

Deborah has a secret
Though she doesn’t know what it is.
The Protector does
And so does Abaddon, the demon king.
Both of them want her destroyed.

Jonah and Deborah have forged a weapon.
A weapon that even the demon fears:

Between them, the pariah girl and the dog boy
will change the world.

Or die in the attempt.

Rabid Readers Book Review

Thank you to Tammy Dewhirst for this wonderful review, and for not being put off by the nasty bits.


My new super-hero is called Melmoth

Who wouldn’t be thrilled to get a review like this? It even made me want to grab a copy!


A Midnight Visit

Aisha’s eyes opened wide, still full of dream images, her vision lagging slightly behind the sound that had woken her. She thought it came from the street, but her tiny room, little more than a cupboard had no window. Curious, she slid out of bed and tiptoed into the communal room. The sound of marching boots had stopped, but the vibrations still hung in the air, and she felt the presence of the booted men though there were no voices, no shuffling of feet or coughing as they waited.

She raised the window blind a crack and peeped out into the dark street. The lamp at the far end shed a ghostly glimmer that caught the edge of a long coat, the line of a visor, the toe of a boot, but left the faces in darkness. Four men in long, belted coats waited on the other side of the street, cap visors throwing their features into shadow. Motionless in their high black boots, they waited: the Pure Ones.

More boots tramping, this time in a disorderly fashion, spilled into the street from both ends: Black Boys. They spread out to bar the way, forming a roadblock radiating violence.

Aisha had never witnessed a visit of the Pure Ones before. No one who had been visited was ever seen again to tell about it. Neighbours in adjoining apartments must have heard what happened, but they never said. Nobody ever heard the voices raised in fear, or the scuffling as unwilling bodies were pushed down the stairs and into the street.

Midnight. The city slept. Except for the unfortunates in the building opposite, and a girl watching.

The street door opened and the four Pure Ones disappeared into the shadows of the stairwell. They climbed the stair in a silent glide, one floor, another. The street door gaped wide; the sharp rap of a gloved hand on an apartment door floated out into the stillness. The night air quivered as fear settled on the street, and Black Boys muttered and shuffled their feet impatiently. Aisha shivered.

A light appeared at a second floor window, muffled voices, a shrill cry followed by a blow, a slap, a fist perhaps. The light was extinguished, and the air vibrated loudly with the tumbling of unsteady, sleep-heavy feet. Then they were there, the four of them, pouring from the shadows into the dim street, carrying a pale lumpy bundle between them, a bundle that spun helplessly like a poor swimmer caught in a river current. A bald head gleamed dully, feet in slippers stumbled. A hastily donned bathrobe flapped around thin ankles.

Another figure appeared in the doorway, pale and fluttering anxiously. A voice rose, a faint piping that was rapidly silenced by a blow from a fist, and the fluttering figure fell to the ground. Aisha gasped in shock and disbelief, and pushed the blind higher. A head turned and she ducked down. Behind her a door opened, flooding the room with light. Her brother, Adam stood, bleary-eyed and sleep-tousled in the doorway of his room.

Aisha gave a strangled cry, “The light!”

He snapped the switch, but the damage was done, and they both stared at the blind, not pulled tight, the narrow crack a gaping, treacherous chasm. Adam crouched down next to his sister and together they peered into the street.

Black Boys slunk into doorways, waiting to beat back anyone who had the temerity to try and intervene. Nobody ever did. The streetlight shone balefully on three Pure Ones dragging a pale, blundering figure towards a waiting vehicle, a black, windowless van. Their struggling prisoner was pushed inside and the door clicked closed, the sound ringing out in the midnight air with the finality of the last trump.

Framed by the yawning black hole of the street door opposite, a single figure remained. Neon-lit, the Pure One stood statue-still, his shadowy face lifted to Aisha’s window, invisible eyes fixed on the crack in the blind.

In the dark, she felt for her brother’s hand. The countdown had begun to another midnight.