23 July 2014

New Design Launch and Snow Leopard Excerpt

This is not the story I'd promised with the launch of my new look and feel for Are We There Yet? Instead, I'm sharing with you the things which keep me captivated in this world of reading and writing fiction: a world where our protagonists, villains, antagonists, and other supporting characters spring from the imaginations of writers who use nothing more than mere words to engage us and suck us into the madness.

Madness?! What do you mean madness?

Freaky mad!!  Or just freaky?

What else would you call it when you block yourself off from the rest of the world to drink in the surroundings of some fictional tale involving murder, mayhem, and chaos? Or a futile fair tale romance that could never be because, in reality, we're not as perfectly beautiful, wealthy, and flawless as our fictional heroes and heroines?

The things that captivate me while reading a fictional story is the imagery. The way a writer can describe a sound or color.  I like Steven King's description of the sound made by a hungry stray dog while ripping hair from the scalp of a dead man. It was in his book Gerald's Game.  The scene was hideously gruesome, and so vividly clear that I could actually hear the sound itself, even though I would never have imagined it before.

Another thing that I like is the bringing together, in an artistic way, events which trigger a particular emotion. Sort of like in Enchantment, where Orson Scott Card describes the villainous witch, Baba Yaga. She is brushing her hair in front of this magical mirror which makes her look young and beautiful. She hums a tune while her husband watches in disgust. Through his own eyes, he sees a witch-like, wrinkled, and hideously grotesque blob. It makes you kind of forget how evil and awful she is for a moment, and you feel pity for her.  Amazing, isn't it?

Yes, it's madness, sort of. Who in their right mind would feel sympathy for an evil, villainous, sub-human monster? If written well, I would.

And since I didn't share with you a story, here's an excerpt from one of my first short stories published on Amazon, Snow Leopard. But first, a one sentence blurb to put things in context.

A human specimen is prepared for the surgical removal of her scalp, which will be transfused onto the crown of a tribal leader, King to a subhuman species of feline crossbreeds.

The surgical lines outlined the subject's forehead with a path leading toward the nape of the neck. Fiona placed both hands in the middle of the subject's forehead. She sank two nails into the flesh and dark droplets of blood seeped onto the clean surface of the skin, one droplet meandering down the slope of the nose, sinking into the crevice of the nostril, and finding its way to the lips, where it emptied itself like a creek into the mouth of a river.

They worked better than a scalpel, moving to either side of each temple and then around the ears. Fiona continued with the incision until she reached the endpoint at the back of the neck, not missing any strands of the precious red mane. When the incision was complete, Fiona looked at Franz and nodded.  
He reached over and pinched the edges of the subject's exposed skin at the top of the forehead, careful to maintain a grip, the blood slipping between his fingers. He was not a surgeon, yet grateful for not having to maintain his nails like Fiona. 
He pulled the bloody skin away from the skull. It peeled much like the skin of a grape. He maintained the integrity of the incision by following along the slit, pulling the skin away from the thin membrane protecting the skull. When the entire scalp was free, he plopped the newly acquired piece onto the slab of ice. He would later wheel it into the adjoining room, where lay Han, the tribe leader awaiting his prized mane of red human hair. 

What captivates you and keeps you engrossed in a fictional world?

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