The decision to take my first novella Canes and Scales and turn it into an epic fantasy didn’t come easily. In fact, at first I wanted write two more novellas and create a series. Luckily Elizabeth North at Dreamspinner advised me to go for one large novel. Good thing--- I’d probably still fuss over finishing the series.
This time I outlined the chapters, not the norm for me. I’ll draft rough outlines, but this time I wanted control. I already struggled with stylistic problems__ my writing had changes in the last few years. Of course my main characters Alasdaire and Linden wanted more page time – what character doesn’t want more time to shine—but at a certain point they decided not to play nice with the storyline. They rebelled. Alasdaire and Linden refused to “talk” to me anymore. It’s a wacky but true concept. The total disconnect drove me batty.
I originally planned to release the novel on its third anniversary.
That didn’t happen since Alasdaire and Linden delighted in shunning me. Fine. I shunned them in turn and worked on other short stories and novels. Ocassionally I’d poke at an earlier chapter that needed work, or realize I needed a strong new character to help the plot. Unfortunately, the novel refused to move past a certain sticky chapter.
Until the EUREKA! evening. A mental orgasm provided the solution. Did I really intend to stage a kidnapping along with more torture? Much of the novel is based around natural magic. Why wasn’t I listening to the book? Why not let the magic work for the characters?
Once I moved past my nefarious plans for Alasdaire and Linden, they worked with me. Together we created an entirely new ending. Everyone felt happy. Alasdaire escaped kidnapping and torture. Linden escaped mental disintegration.
And I escaped from thinking I’d never finish my book!
Thanks, Dawn, for letting me work out my issues.
Here’s an excerpt
PG Excerpt Canes & Scales M/M fantasy S.A. Garcia
My trunks bobbed past along with my bags. I chuckled; it looked like my two travel trunks had sprouted legs. “Still running splendidly as always, eh, Anders?”
Raised voices echoing from the left interrupted Anders’s quiet reply. Scornful words violated the air.
“You annoying bore, I am ready, but he has arrived hours early! At least let me button my jacket.”
My, my, someone had a saucy attitude.
Anders’s scolding sniff punctuated the outburst. He thinned his lips before he twitched his right brow. He appeared ready to rip out a servant’s unruly soul.
“Excuse me, my Prince, there seems to be—”
A short young man dressed in a stylish black suit, not the normal dull rust livery, hastened from the left into the foyer. His abrupt arrival sent agitated waves through the foyer.
How odd. Why did I feel his agitation?
He rapidly buttoned his knee-length frock coat over his black silver-embroidered vest, adjusted his jacket, looked up, and froze, before he regained his composure and stared at the floor. He used his long black hair to curtain his face.
“A thousand pardons, Master Anders, erm, my esteemed Prince.” His melodic voice—ah, what an interesting accent—sounded breathless. “Forgive my shameful tardiness and unseemly behavior. Please forgive me. Please.”
The young man bowed lower until I feared for his balance. He straightened back up and took two more steps. He halted and bowed in a fresh dire tip. His short stature allowed his long hair to sweep the ebony marble floor. The two black hues swallowed each other.
Powers on High, his lively arrival rivaled an actor’s drama. My calming laugh fought against the unwelcome tension. “Please, young man, no need to fret. Cease the relentless bowing. Your constant up-and-down motion makes me dizzy.”
He needed to cease, since I wanted to see the fair face again to confirm my amazement.
The young man looked up. “Yes, my gracious Prince. My apologies.”
The words emerged from full lips set in a deep copper-hued, high-cheekboned face. Delicate violet swirls started at his right temple and meandered to his chin before winding around his neck. The languid swirls imitated wild Nerdean canyon rose canes—graceful, yet deadly. In the Southern Desert, the hunting canes hooked into their victims. The canes trapped their prey until the carnivorous blooms fed on the flesh. Since the roses sprang from old magic, they resisted all known modern pesticides.
There, today my knowledge of other races served me well. Before me stood a Southern Totandia elf of the ruling rank. The violet canes showed the elf’s startlingly high status. Up North we seldom saw Totandians. Their ancient race now hid in the deep Nerdean canyonlands edging against the inhospitable South Inatoli Desert. They believed in nature’s rule and nothing else. Their attitude challenged modern thinking. In the past, my ruthless Serpent family had used lethal efficiency to ferret them out from the realm. Their subtle magics and strange, secret culture made the elves a target. After nearly destroying the race, now our country regarded them as handy slave fodder. Delicate in stature, they usually acted docile and nonviolent.
My scholarly heart regretted the destruction of such a mysterious race.
Still, the male’s features had a distinctly human cast, especially in the strong cheekbones and firm chin. As I recalled, pure elves had narrow faces and extremely pointed chins. No hint of the uniquely slanted Totandian eye structure met my examination, but his eyes displayed the unusual violet color befitting his noble rank. The robust coppery skin and one pointed ear tip peeking past his hair screamed elf, yet his long narrow nose appeared too pronounced for an elf’s. His compact muscular build also refuted his elven heritage.
Before me stood an exotic human-elven mixture, rare to see in this age.
Even more curious—something about the refined features sparked a hazy memory. How odd.
Another deep bow almost followed before the male conquered his instinct. He respectfully inclined his head. His wavy mane drifted around his face.
“I am Alasdaire, my esteemed Prince. During your visit here, my duty is to serve you to my full ability.”
To my surprise, Anders released a quiet but pointed huff. Coming from him, the sound counted as a cruel slap across the young man’s face.
“Yes, my Prince, since he knows you travel sans your normal staff, Lord Keith arranged for Alasdaire to be your personal slave.” Anders sniffed. “That is, if you will allow a lowly half-breed slave to serve you.”
Powers on High, I could have ice-skated on Anders’s last words. I disliked how Anders emphasized the slave aspect. I thought Keith had servants, not slaves. Hmm, a hidden story lurked here. I certainly wanted to give the unusual male a chance, especially since I understood what Alasdaire meant by serving me. Keith had remembered my fondness for fascinating young men.
“How lovely, yes, I heartily approve of my cousin’s special choice for me.” I sounded positive and upbeat—in fact, I sounded nauseatingly charming. Dreadful. “Anders, feel confident to leave me in Alasdaire’s company.”
I smiled at the watchful young half-breed. He quickly looked at the floor. Hmm, no mutual flirtation from a pleasure slave? Why?
“Very good, my Prince. If this particular slave annoys you, please let me know immediately. I shall correct the staffing error. Above all, I desire your complete satisfaction.”
Anders shot Alasdaire a deadly glare. I wondered why Anders despised this glorious male. Ah, sadly, the prejudice against elves ran strong in many men’s hearts. Such ill behavior from the normally stoic head butler bothered me.
Despite my annoyance, I nodded. “Thank you, Anders.”
Anders bowed and glared at Alasdaire one last time before he turned on his heel like a king departing from a council meeting. Even I never acted that regal. He paused to swivel back toward me.
“Ah, I almost forgot, my Prince. Master Adrian has comms from the palace for you.”
I managed not to sigh. “No surprise there, Anders. I’ll check in with Adrian later.”
Another stiff bow answered me. “Very good, my Prince.”
Around us, bustling footmen finished carrying my belongings up the grand staircase. I winced. Had I really brought along that much luggage? Gerald must have packed enough outfits to last for months. I would have been happy with one formal suit, casual clothing, and plenty of underwear.
I glanced back toward Alasdaire. He still frowned after Anders’s retreating back before he realized I watched his ire. He inclined his head with silent apology, then gazed up at me. In a flash, his expression turned blank as he banished his former passion.
“My Prince, it is time to create today’s schedule. Lord Keith and his guests currently attend Lord Lazio’s grand picnic. Do you want to join them?”
I held up my hand. “Please, absolutely not, Alasdaire. I wish to enjoy a light lunch along with a not so light drink, then a bath. Perhaps I’ll act slothful and indulge in a nap.”
I grinned with glee. Ahh, the thought of sprawling against a feather mattress thrilled my aching body. The last war had destroyed my stalwart constitution. Before this past week, a carriage ride had never defeated my body. My constant exhaustion bothered me. At least I knew no one had poisoned me—a personal ward spell guaranteed protection from common poisons.
My brother Edward had already tried to poison me.
He had regretted the attempt.
“Of course, my noble Prince. I shall arrange for your supreme comfort.”
Alasdaire signaled to four watching young pages. They stepped forward. He leaned down to issue orders. The boys bowed and scurried off in different directions.
Alasdaire turned back. He gracefully gestured forward.
“My Prince, I trust you enjoyed a pleasant journey from Rahalda? I understand the weather embraced calm, sunny conditions, unlike the recent unruly storms.”
“Pleasant enough, although it was a long journey. Five days of carriage travel taxed my old body.”
At least the young slave chatted with me. Normally everyone acted dumbstruck around this so-called mighty prince. Still, his words sounded mechanical and rehearsed, merely a pleasure slave’s trained interest. But I sensed his uniqueness. I wondered how many times Alasdaire had entertained Keith’s
guests? Did he despise his pleasure-slave status? Hmm. Usually the pretty young men in such positions were well-treated, pampered pets, since they supplied the master or mistress discreet pleasure. Judging by how basely Anders treated him, this manor did not regard Alasdaire as special. How foolish of them. I certainly looked forward to enjoying this exotic creature’s company.
My self-pitying sigh made me sound in need of comfort. “I confess I feel battered as an old boot.”
“Now you may relax. You will be pleased to hear fresh weather graces us, Prince. The late-spring storms have passed on their way east. You will enjoy a lovely visit.” Alasdaire mounted the carved staircase.
Interesting. My new companion ignored my baiting words. He wasn’t prone to abject fawning. I appreciated the trait. I followed Alasdaire, taking the opportunity to admire his knee-high, pearl-button boots. The supple black leather sculpted his strong calves into delicious fullness.
We traveled down the long hall. Dreary portraits depicting dour deceased ancestors cluttered the walls. During my childhood visits, Keith and I had made up silly names for them. Lady Hortense Horseface, Duke Dreadful Drooler, and Sir Sticky Spankalot still scowled at me with painted menace. I scowled back at them.
About the Author
Thirty years ago, I started writing gay male romance. Writing about men inserting tab A into slot B didn’t seem the norm for a suburban female teenager. Reading Gordon Merrick, John Rechy and Larry Kramer helped me fill in the serious informational gaps. Yes, I read those books in my bedroom. No wonder.
As the years progressed, I still wrote gay male romance, although the stories progressed from lurking in notebooks to hiding on the computer. I wrote fantasies, contemporaries, bodice rippers; I chugged along following my goofy muse.
Now I’m glad I kept the writing faith. I never thought I’d have published novels. Imagine, my comedy An Elf for All Centuries (Silver Publishing; now in talks for a new home) was in the running for a few awards. The novel didn’t win, but come on, what a thrill.
My life has turned into a fun quandary of too many stories hindered by my slow, two-fingered typing skills. I blunder onward into more trauma, drama, and humor. I just hope I can keep up with sexy men who insist on running off with the plots!
Check out my latest releases:
Love in the Shadows, my first attempt at mixing M/M historic and contemporary with a touch of the supernatural, is at MLR Press.
My M/M romdramedy (romance/drama/comedy) The Gospel According to Cher is now at Dreamspinner, home to my novellas, assorted short stories, and the novel Cupid Knows Best.
Facebook: S.A. Garcia