My latest book, WHEN SHADOWS FALL, came out yesterday (Oct. 1, 2013). It’s the first book in a new epic fantasy series called the Books of the Small Gods, and it was a little bit different for me. Not only was it written in record time for me (the first draft took only 14 days), but I also paid closer attention to the voices of my characters. This was no easy task as there are multiple story lines, but I was determined.
No where is this attempt to differentiate the characters through their voices more apparent than in the chapters involving Horace Seaman. He appears first in chapter one, which was originally intended to open the book until my fine editor, Ella Medler, convinced me to write a prologue (find out about that here). To be honest, I was a little worried about starting the book with good ol’ Horace. Don’t get me wrong–I love the character and his story line was one of the most fun to write, but the voice is a little extreme. Take a taste and tell me what you think.
WARNING: Rated PG 13 for questionable language.
The day lay upon the sea like death, without breath nor pulse, movement nor care. The sky ran into the ocean with a drunken sailor’s grace, and even the gulls wasn’t takin’ to the air for fear the heat’d bear them down to be swallowed by the depths. His Imperial Grace’s Ship, Devil o’ the Deep, languished upon the idle water more’n a hundred leagues from the turn, and she weren’t gettin’ none closer on days like this one.
First Man Horace Seaman squinted out across the smooth and shinin’ sea, watchin’ it stretch to the horizon and prob’ly beyond, like a metal sheet awaitin’ the first strike o’ the smith’s hammer to dimple it. He scanned the green depths, wishin’ for a single wave to break and bring hopes of a windy gust along with it, or at least desirin’ to glimpse a fish jumpin’, its splash relievin’ his boredom, but there weren’t nothin’. A sweaty bead ran off his nose and caught itself in the thick stubble growin’ above his lip, collectin’ with all the other drops o’ sweat. He wiped the moisture away with a cloth he carried for no other purpose and wrung it out o’er the side, addin’ his salt to the sea’s.
Despite the name and profession given him by his lineage, Horace didn’t have no love for floatin’ atop the water, less so on this sort o’ voyage. It weren’t the dearth o’ wind what increased Seaman’s discomfort, but the trip itself. Any time a boat took the turn, it put the crew too near the Green, in Horace’s estimation. Even sailin’ as far offshore as a seafarin’ man dared, with the jagged coast nothin’ but a mirage on the horizon, that land still crouched there like an animal waitin’ to pounce. Somethin’ ’bout the place were enough to make a man’s staff shrivel and his ball sack claw itself back up inside.
If that weren’t enough to make a sailor’s tackle shrink, they was on this most damnable boat, too. Who with a good thought in their head named a boat Devil o’ the Deep? It seemed to Horace more’n a bit like temptin’ fate, and he weren’t the only swingin’ dick what thought so. The Devil didn’t have neither her own crew nor a perm’nent skipper, ‘cause no one wanted to spend time on a vessel what were surely destined to get itself ate. Thrice Horace Seaman sailed on the Devil and thrice survived, but the absence o’ wind and the sun’s oppression made him suspect trip number four might’ve been askin’ too much from the poor, o’er-worked possum tail stuck in his breech’s front pocket for the purpose o’ bringin’ good luck.
The trip’d be faster crossin’ the Inland Sea, but tension with the Water Kingdom meant no ships was makin’ the excursion, ‘cept them what were good at skulkin’, and skulkin’ weren’t hardly the Devil’s specialty. Even so, he figured sneakin’ across still might be safer’n gettin’ close to the Green.
Horace snorted and spat o’er the wale, not partic’larly able to spare the saliva, but desperate to set the water movin’. He watched ripples race away from the floatin’ snot glob, some tiny waves washin’ against the boat and dyin’ without givin’ aid to pushin’ the Devil closer to her goal, others headin’ for the horizon like they stood a chance o’ reachin’ it. Horace watched ‘em as if it were his job, ‘cause what else were a man to do on a day dead as today?
“What ya doin’, Hory?”
But one man called him Hory, and he wondered for an instant whether ignorin’ the voice might make it go away. The answer were no. Horace’d tried payin’ the feller no mind before with the result o’ makin’ the questions multiply and come out more absurd. He heaved a breath, the air hotter’n it had any right to be, and answered without facin’ the man.
“I’m fixin’ to work up to shittin’ a gold block, Dunal. What’s it look like?”
“Har, har. It looks like you ain’t doin’ nothin’, Hory, that’s what.”
Horace got the eye rollin’ outta the way first so Dunal wouldn’t see, then rotated slow, feelin’ akin to a ground hen skewered and cranked on the rotisserie o’er a bed o’ red hot coals. Difference were, the ground hen got to be dead when it got cooked.
The smile on Dunal’s gob made Horace either wanna laugh out loud or punch the swab in the face, but he couldn’t spare the air to do the one and the other’d get him tossed in the brig. See, Dunal were not only head swabbie for this turn on the Devil, but cousin to the skipper’s wife, or some such thing, and a simpleton on the top. The o’ersized child possessed an eye which pointed off at nothin’, a head o’ thick, straw-colored hair to match the mop he carried with him ev’rywhere he went, and the self-proclaimed ability to fuck a woman for half-a-day without rest. Course, weren’t no women willin’ to confirm the claim, though Horace’d heard rumors a good few goats and other farm beasts knew the truth.
Read the Prologue on WATTPAD
Read the rest of Chapter one on WATTPAD
Buy a copy today!