Course of Mirrors had a publisher who loved the story. The book was to be released first in Autumn 2014, then in 2015, then in 2016, until the publisher admitted the book part of her business was not profitable. I must start all over again, but at least my book is not stuck in an oxbow. In the meantime I completed a sequel, which is going through more editing rounds.
Both novels are character driven, about a young woman on a quest for the real, torn in her love between disparate twins. A speculative and magical adventure, dealing with the conflict between love and power. Chapters are page-turning, at times reflective, humorous, poignant and packed with memorable eccentric characters, intrigue, murder and romance, slices of history, mythology and time-jumps, including other dimensions, from where past and future fuse into the present.
Here a lighthearted snippet from chapter 5 of the sequel, Shapers (in draft.) The episode takes place in Ireland and introduces … Mesa, Zap and Gart (former Rufus in Course of Mirrors.)
Times-jump to 1970s Derrynane
Zap had used the fatty skin of the salmon he caught to rub the white paint form his face and now regretted it. The smell clung to him, even after a dip in the bay. No matter. He turned the pink flesh on a makeshift spit over a gentle fire. My fault again, entirely, he mumbled. Cassia, forgive my blunder, but you set me a fool’s task. I traced the mysterious Mesa across centuries to 2540, lost her, and found her with a bunch of trendy clone technicians hundreds years back, only to muddle the coordinates for Rhonda and get us to this godforsaken coast in god-knows-what-time. He snatched his tablet once more and activated the signal. ‘Zap calling, Zap calling Holyhead … I lost position … Zap calling.’ Infuriating, especially since the Shapers had accepted his password and gave him coordinates he could not now recall. Neither he nor they understood what his function was, but they trusted his contact would reveal the mission. He glanced at Mesa returning from her long swim, huh, Venus rising from emerald waves wouldn’t match her.
She waved. ‘From way out there I saw a ruin up on the hill,’
‘Great, let’s explore it. I need a diversion to rock my brains into remembering the coordinates.’
She shook the water from her hair, making the fire splutter and spit. ‘Don’t worry. The Shapers will find us. Besides, I like it here.’
‘Meal’s almost done.’
‘I’ll have a quick run to dry off.’
Zap flipped the fish over once more while Mesa sprinted across the sands like a gazelle. He gaped as she returned with a rapid spin of cartwheels. Not fair. He was pretty good at cartwheels, but her speed was staggering. And she was not even short of breath as she slipped on her tunic with one neat movement.
‘I can do cartwheels.’
Her brows lifted. ‘Can’t everybody do them?’ That touch of splendid aloofness, Zap couldn’t shake off the thought that they shared a history. He dished out the salmon on chunks of driftwood. She eyed him while devouring her fish. ‘You’re a superb cook. And you’re rather cute without that white clown face.’ He blushed, lost for words. Mesa had knocked speech from his tongue and seemed to relish it.
They extinguished the fire and ascended the cliffs to look for the ruin. From higher up they saw the coastline stretch into a half-moon shape, hugging the bay before a vast glittering sea. Mesa said, ‘The light is so pristine this world could’ve been born today.’ She turned to see if Zap agreed, and froze. He stood rapt, eyes locked with a snake that did a head-swaying dance, as if she was courting him. Zap knelt to get level, which drew the snake close to his face. She flicked her tongue at his nose before she dropped and slithered under a carpet of flowering bindweed. ‘Wow,’ Mesa regarded her companion with new admiration. ‘I meant to ask … a name for you keeps popping into my mind.’
‘Oh never mind.’
‘Don’t tease, what name?’
‘It doesn’t seem appropriate. You’re a grown man, and the name’s Little Snake.’ Zap went quiet. He kicked a stone and walked on. ‘See, I shouldn’t have said it.’
‘No, it’s… the name sounds as if I should know it. What spooks me is that I understand snake language. Its message was to trust some strangers and not others. Now there’s a riddle to crack, ha, ha …. ’
‘You should’ve asked the snake for the coordinates to snap us to Rhonda.’
‘I guess I’m not as smart as you.’
‘Shush. Listen.’ Mesa pointed ahead. ‘Hear that sound?’ They scrambled over yet another boulder. The land before them rose gently towards the wall of a ruin whose walls looked like two dragons wrapped in green moss guarding a gate. Close by, a young man under a wind-swept tree was tuning his violin. He stood up, adjusted his blue velvet cap and played a lively local jig, as if in welcome.
* * *
The air bus shook like jelly, the night turned abruptly to bright daylight, and it felt to Gart as if he had been propelled through some kind of purgatory. Sweat drenched his shirt. The horizon wobbled, a coastline blinded and he barely managed to set his craft down on a stretch of sand. Loss of control was his foulest nightmare. Shuddering with frustration, he tapped his console. The screen flickered shortly and went blank. He opened the hatch and took a deep lungful of air. His usual stylish exit failed. He landed on his bottom in moist sand, legs stretching before him like broomsticks. A string of obscenities energised him. He rubbed his muscles for a while to get his blood flowing, and achieved a clumsy walk circling the air bus. No damage, a small consolation in this forsaken hole. There was only the soft lapping of waves, and a smell. Glancing around him, he noticed a tiny coil of smoke further up the shore. He hurried back to his cabin and tried again to tap the console, no sign of life – his tablet – no signal, nothing. He pocketed the dead thing, grabbed his stinger and walked towards the spot where he had sighted smoke. Shreds of fish, someone had enjoyed a picnic here, very recently. His kicked at the ashes. Forcing his mind to calm, he methodically scanned the cliffs for movement …
Feedback of any kind is welcome. Is the writing accessible? Does the theme engage or not?
Since excerpts on this page are replaced and comments below may not directly relate, please include the heading, in the case of this excerpt … ‘Times-jump to 1970s Derrynane.’
7 responses to “Excerpts”
Super atmosphere from the very start of this. I could sense the tension and almost hear the dip of the oars. Great stuff
(I did spot “one with a knife tugged in his boot” and wondered if you mean “tucked” )
Thanks, I’m glad the atmosphere works. Fixed ‘tucked’ great you spotted it.
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Again you have created the most wonderful dreamlike atmosphere and yet the worlds/realities are believable and “real”. The only comment that I would make and it’s not negative but it struck me as I read, I would have expected more “wonder” at the beginning when Cara was accessed outwith the diary.
You have a tiny typo in the first para by the way – published “this” year is I think what you meant. I enjoyed this and it actually calmed me as I read, how very clever of you.
Thank you Diane. I appreciate your feedback. I fixed the speller in the intro. and will contemplate the ‘wonder.’
Enjoyed reading this! A combination of time travel and a sense of connectedness with the oldest myths.
Thanks Alethea. Your post reminded me to correct one or two things on this page. Thinking also of placing another excerpt soon.