Tag Archives: novel

Ellen Jacobson, Author Interview

Today, I’m interviewing one of my co-authors from our fantasy anthology Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life, hosted from The Insecure Writers Support Group and graciously published via Dancing Lemur Press in May of this year. The theme for this year’s anthology was a lost hero, and it’s been fascinating to discover how twelve different writers approached all the many things those two words invoked.

Welcome, Ellen Jacobson, author of The Silvering.

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Hi, Ellen! What sparked your idea of a lost hero?

I woke up in the middle of the night after having a really vivid dream about a strange world where mysterious things happen to my main character, Caestu. At first, I didn’t necessarily envision Caestu as a lost hero, but as the story unfolded, it became clear that he had a tough choice to make – conform to what society expects of him or rebel against its control and oppression of others.

 

What was the hardest part to write?

The ending. I couldn’t find a satisfactory way to wrap things up, and I’m still not satisfied with the ending. I think I have a lot more of the story to tell and having to cap it at 5,000 words forced me to end it prematurely. Perhaps I’ll turn it into a novella or novel one day and give it a proper ending.

 

What is your preferred genre to write in? Why?

I started out writing a cozy mystery (which I’ve been working on for ages), but I’ve always had a ton of ideas for science fiction/fantasy stories. The Silvering was my first attempt to write in that genre and I really enjoyed it. I love the idea of not being constrained by how things are supposed to work in the real world and the freedom to imagine new worlds, cultures and peoples.

 

Is there a theme to your writing as a whole/What is your writing strong point? 

Because I’m a novice writer, I can’t say that there is a theme or strong point. I’ve only completed one thing so far – my story in the anthology. Ask me again in a few years. Hopefully, I’ll have typed “The End” on another manuscript and can maybe identify a theme or strong point.

 

What is your favorite book? Why?

I can never answer questions like this. It’s way too hard to narrow things down to just one book. What I can tell you is that there are some books that I’ve re-read, which I guess makes them favorites in a way, such as anything by Octavia Butler or Iain Banks, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers’ books are also fun to re-read.

 

Was there something about the prompt ‘Lost Hero’ that grabbed you?

I had actually started writing my story before the anthology theme was announced, so it didn’t really grab me in that sense. I do think it’s a great theme and I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s take on it.

 

If your lost hero had a theme song, what would it be?

They’re not allowed to sing in Caestu’s society, so he wouldn’t have a theme song. Actually, I don’t know if they’re allowed to sing or not, but I can see that being prohibited. This may be something I explore if I turn The Silvering into a novella or novel at some point.

 

Thanks, Ellen!

Connect with Ellen via Facebook, her blog, or Google+.

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Want to know more about Hero Lost?

Click on over to our Hero Lost homepage to get a taste of the other stories and writers.

You can then purchase via Amazon at this link.

 

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Curious about the Insecure Writers Support group?

Check out our website, Facebook Group, and Twitter.

 

 

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Please be sure to visit Dancing Lemur Press!

Oh, My Love

I feel so good and carefree this week. Weightless. I’m not agonizing over stats or buys or reviews. I’m reading, watching TV, relaxing with my boys. My work is finally floating out in the world. It’s the most amazing concept, that someone I don’t know somewhere is opening the pages I created. I’m feeling a little more connected to the universe at present. I’m a little (a lot) in awe that I have finally, trully, actually made it to this point. For the longest time, it didn’t feel that I ever would. As I explained to a friend: free time isn’t all that free. It started to become so impossible that I would ever go

From this:

copyright L. Nahay2013

To this:

Red Moonglow on Snow by L. Nahay

So amazing.

Wait! I Have (a) Proof!

“This book I wish to open and close….”

www.midnighttomorrowbooks.com
Proof!

That wall in the picture is my storyboard with a few of my sketches.  The two secondary-characters I am showing off to are exclaiming expletives relative to ‘Good-God, it’s about damn time!’

Rushing out to work this morning and there it was, my box from CreateSpace, one day early (shopping yesterday, so never saw). I sat on the train holding it and people are probably staring at me thinking: ‘It’s a book. You’re supposed to open it up and read it.’

“This book I wish to open and close.”  That line kept floating through my head over and over all day, making me smile, giving me the greatest amount of peace I’ve had in a really long time.

I took advantage of my pride and forced myself to show my co-workers before my courage failed me. Had to keep my finger on my name before they understood and exclaimed, “You wrote a book!”

So nice to hold it in my hands, even though there’s things to fix: while in the picture it looks normal, somehow, in actuality my moon looks more like an egg. The colors are all wrong. More purple than blue, making the back text almost unreadable. Grey border is all wonky. I chose the matte finish, but do not like it at all. The pictures are crooked, and don’t line up with the bleed measurements they gave. I used 12 point font on the interior, but it’s overhuge, so I need to reset that. Good part about that is that a smaller font will bring down the page count! Which may bring Lulu back into possibilities if their minimum retail price can be brought down enough.

I’m not sure how to fix the coloring issue, and looking at my files, my moon looks like a moon and not an egg, and my colors are EXACTLY how I want them to look, so I don’t know where the distortions happened.

Not sure how to proceed with fixing these, but at the moment, I’m not worrying. I’m holding my book in my hands 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving to me.

Red Moonglow on Snow (pt 3)

For pt 1, click here

For pt 2, click here

pt 3:

My body jumps up and charges without a shout or sound. The Soldiers and unicorns freeze, confused. Prey don’t attack. I run straight for the unicorn and Soldier directly before me, leaping up and driving the dagger into the Soldier’s side before he manages to grab my arms and attempt to catch me. I twist mid-air, my body sailing over the demon’s horn and head, and keep flying by, bringing the Soldier down with me.

I think I lose consciousness for a couple heartbeats after crashing back-first onto the earth. As soon as I come to, I kick the man off of me, getting momentarily tangled in the grass and the damn dress while the Soldier struggles to orient himself. The beast-

[Hey!]

That voice again!

-turns around and faces us. Seeing us where we shouldn’t be, he tries to turn his head to comprehend his empty back, but the bars on his neck prevent him from doing so. He turns his large eyes to me, questioning, unsure. The Soldier and I regard each other in much the same way, waiting for someone to make the second attack.

The demon rears up full, his deadly hooves inches above my head and sparkling silver and gold under caked mud. I flinch as he comes down, but to my shock, he unleashes his rage on his now former rider, pummeling what was once a man into the earth and grass, his grimy, mauve-colored fur now contrasted with brilliant red. Finally, the air sighs amidst the man’s and beast’s screams. Finally.

Dragons, I exclaim into my head, horrified. There is blood everywhere, vibrant as it beads down the edges of the grass around us. My eyes follow some drops’ poetically slow descent, and the whole world pauses to let me.

More terrifying than the screaming is the following silence, when nothing and no one even thinks. The unicorn is panting, staring down at what he’s done. I realize that I’m sitting, sitting very near the massacred, segmented Soldier and his newly-free, maddened demon. The beast remembers that as well and sharply redirects his attention to me. I shake my head clear and push to my feet, moving away very slowly.

The other unicorns resume fighting against their restraints, rearing and turning, their snapping teeth loud enough to hear over the wind. They twist and turn and rear, buck, but the Soldiers sit firm, use to such behavior. No longer concerned with me, the men beat their swords into the demons’ skin and their heels into their sides, only making them scream louder and fight against them harder rather than succeeding in regaining control.

My heart relocates somewhere in my head, beating loud and strong and definitively in my ears. All the unicorns are facing me. Their lowered horns face me. Chaos and odor and lude voices and Soldiers and hooves and someone everywhere. The unicorns and the men are all screaming and shouting. The smells of beast and man merge and sting my nostrils. Convulsively, I launch the dagger into the nearest man’s throat.

The Soldier yanks the knife from his right shoulder and flexes his hand, ensuring it works. How’d I miss so badly? Wind. I have to account for the strength and pull of the wind. How could I have forgotten that?

“Damn bitch! Get her now, Ernon.”

Ernon, already on foot with his demon tethered tightly against another beast, is a tall, ghastly thin man. His stench precedes him as he approaches me. He smells worse than the demons.

[That’s enough already!]

Voice again!

Greasy, long, ash blond hair sticks to the Soldier’s forehead and neck and down his back in thinning, sickly vines. He moves in slow, precise strides, expecting me to cower, anticipating his overly-confident walk will make me buckle and lay myself at his lack of mercy. He only makes my fists clench and release in anticipation with every drawn-out step he takes. I take a half step back and bend my knees, ready to fight back. He grabs again at his erect groin and the wind growls. I think it’s the wind. The demons are growing more anxious, pawing and grunting and shifting madly from side to side. Maybe I am the one growling. My legs are tingling with my defensive posture, but I hold it, thinking of my mother’s dragons, of their strength, of their fury, for I am the daughter of Elaar, who is the daughter of dragons, and I won’t die this way. Not by His or their doing.

He takes one step too close. My fist cuts through the wind and shocks it into silence before locking on stubbled jaw. The little needle-like hairs on his face slice through my knuckles. The snap of either my bones or his cracks through the hills. I don’t care. He doesn’t reel very much from the punch, but the fact that I had done it is the more effective blow.

[I’m right behind you! I’ll be there soon! Stall!]

Talking again. Wordless chatter around my ears. Taunts. Frustration. Anger. Confusion.

“Something different about you, woman.” The Soldier fondles his jaw. He says the word ‘woman’ as though it names a vile creature that slithers in the dark. His eyes devour me, rip through the clothes that aren’t mine, through skin I no longer know.

“Ernon, stop playing these senseless games! Jix, shoot her already!”

Shoot.

Explosion so loud you don’t hear it. You feel it as it rips through your body in that distant, odd, delayed sense of pain and injury. Your blood once vital and precious becoming sticky and grotesque. Vulnerable. Something tiny as a pebble so deadly, so costly.

The bullet in my shoulder ignites and throbs with thoughts of Talyn, reminding me of what I’ve lost and how I lost her. I won’t be shot again. Won’t be weakened by a tiny thing made from man.

Once so close and compact, nearly falling down upon me, now the Soldiers are spread further out, encircling me. An arrow is pulled taut, drawing my attention into its backward pull. Any second now it’ll launch free, make the air sing in the pitch only target and archer can hear (wind allowing). The suns reflect off the point; I see it from where I stand. Suns and the one moon reflecting in a tiny bit of stone aimed at my chest. My shoulder is screaming.

The dagger is in my hand again. I don’t question how as my father isn’t at my side this time to keep me armed. My fingers tighten, ensuring fact and grip and surety. As the arrow begins to slip, I throw.

The Soldier’s beast rears up at the same instant. I’d thrown for the man’s throat, but the demon moved! Then, as soon as he senses the coming weapon, the beast’s screams die and he descends in time for the knife to sink into the Soldier’s ribs. Man sneers. Then looks down, sees his blood, and slips to the ground.

I stand relaxed and waiting for this second beast to come charging at me. Touched. I’m Touched. Hills and hills and hills all around. Talyn is gone. He- not the people who’d invaded our house- He has taken her from me. Him. Bringing me here, having me killed or not, he’s taken her from me. So tired, so worn, so destroyed. Stamp him out. Take all trace of him away from me, I beg the unicorn. Stamp him out of me.

The center of my vision whitens out the monstrosity of hills and clear blue sky, and Talyn is there, suspended out for me. Yes, I cry to the unicorn, letting it feast itself on the agony that bleeds into my eyes and face. Yes, with Talyn all around, Take His scent away. Set me free.

Yelling, yelling, for this second unicorn is also now free. Ropes are being thrown over my head. But the demon’s eyes are changing. Black and bloodshot slacken into something that understands pain, understands the intense desire for escape. Any escape. Black and red softening into silver and I begin to weep, Pleeeeee-ase.

Two more chains cross his neck, grinding against the bars around his throat. Just a little rise, but he turns away from me. Broken, muddied hooves hesitate over his rider only in my mind as I struggle to process that he’s not attacking me either.

My leg feels odd. Wet. Hot.

Ropes flying. Men shouting. Unicorns angry. Wind howling. Grass bowing. Green, beautiful green grass. Under a sky too perfect, too false. The unicorn is already full into his attack, stamping his hooves down upon what remains of his former rider over and over while the restrained unicorns watch in glee and the Soldiers try hard not to see at all.

Two Soldiers dead.

Thin things tighten unexpectedly around me, pinching off my air, locking my arms against my side. Something about my throat, clamping tight. And a face, a too-white, toothy face under sticky greasy hair too close to completely see.

“I think that’s enough,” Ernon sneers, his voice low and toned with malice. “Get them tethered!” he roars, his fingers on my throat flinching, tightening, lifting. The unicorns are not compliant and they are short two men. The man I’d struck but missed struggles to stay atop his ride and the one restraining me leaves three to handle seven perpetually enraged unicorns.  “While I loved the chase, you can’t run anymore. Feel that?” He reaches down and yanks on something imbedded in my leg, sending fire up my thigh. I gasp, choking down the scream.

An arrow is suspended in the air before me.

He twists it further in and I glare right back into his eyes, not flinching though the pain is nearly blinding and my head is going numb.

The point of an arrow is lodged in my right thigh……but the dress is now somewhat blatantly red, from the thin shaft of the arrow down into the grass blades that won’t help cut.

No, it’s not that the dress has decided on a color. It’s my blood. The last Soldier. He’d hit me. There’s an arrow in my thigh!

[You’re hit?]

A cold foreign solidness begins to pierce into my awareness. The arrow has severed into my muscle, the tip is grinding into my femur. Nerves shoot pain down to my toes and up to the crown of my skull while ropes burn into my wrists, cut into my arms. My arms press into my ribs, constraining lungs that wish only to expand. But even if they could, the Soldier’s grip on my throat is tightening and I can’t bring air into or out of my lungs.

The sky around us is that even, detached blue, except where streaked by veins of night that never go away as the moon’s constant presence keeps the suns from taking complete control of the sky. Stars still shine in the triangular segment of night, looking helplessly down at the scene below them. But the loss of air is making earth-bound stars dance in my sight much nearer than they should be. The blank-faced moon, the searing suns, the raging wind, the hills and brightening stars and loss of air and the pitch black unicorn standing before me- I feel like I’m suffocating in a jumble of dreams and nightmares.

Black unicorn?

The noise, the chaos, the pain ends after my eyes track back to my right where an eighth unicorn stands. Behind him is a deep canyon of exposed, dark brown earth scorched into the grass and hills. By his hooves?

“Now you’re afraid, aren’t you?” The Soldier leans in so close that his lips scrape over the edge of mine as he speaks. He then realizes that I’m not staring at him, that I’m not acknowledging him, and that the unicorns aren’t grunting or shrieking, they aren’t dancing from one foot to another. The Soldiers aren’t struggling with them, and they aren’t yelling at me any longer. Even the wind seems to have retreated. It is deadly silent.

He whips his head around and gasps, his head tilting back to see the whole of the new unicorn’s head towering over us. Something as large and seething as he should surely have made some sound. By the layer of sweat on his skin, the unicorn had been galloping, though none of us had noticed him, heard him, been aware of him at all until he slid into the earth and stopped.

[That’s a lie. You’ve been ignoring me!]

I know this Soldier-less unicorn. I’d had a nightmare of him just before Talyn was taken. That’s also the name Mom would refer to him by: The Nightmare. And this panting, fuming nightmare stands before me now, snarling, his head lowered, his horn pointed towards me.

My brain has trouble processing him. He’s wrong. His color, his body. It’s all wrong. Blue sky and fresh green grass, somewhere behind me is snow. I remember running through snow at some point. Natural colors. Normal natural things. Under the dirt and grime and scars of these other demons, they bear normal colors. But The Nightmare is ruthlessly black. A black hole that draws in life and smothers it. In sharp contrast, his mane and tail are a dark red. Not the comforting red of my mother’s hair or the rare beauty of the moon That Night, but……the color of something once vital and necessary turned sickly and grotesque.

For the final pt 4, click here