magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
In true Clarion West Alum style, I am diving into this week slightly belatedly and with no clue what I'm doing! Join me for the ride.

THE CHARACTER: An Owomoyela, your narrator, a graduate of the 2008 class of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, author of various and sundry things.

THE CONFLICT: Your intrepid narrator has agreed to work on a different writing project every week for six weeks and blog about the results, in the hopes that you, O Readers, will sponsor hir and hir cause. In return for your money, your encouragement, or simply your occasional attention, you'll receive ramblings, blatherings and excerpts from a variety of different thingbobs!

THE FIRST CHAPTER: An will be – and hang on, se's just deciding this now – working on (drum roll, please)...

Slivers, (or) The Child Born With Fangs

A xenofictive fantasy YA novel concerning gender and the nature of humanity.

Slivers begins with a child named Rankiryo, a name meaning "Child of the Old Ways." He's a lyncis by species, and I'll provide a link to a visual aid for what lyncis folk look like. So, yes, I'm writing a fairly shameless catperson novel, but that's alright, 'cause I'm an author, and I can do what I want.

Rankiryo's culture became avowedly pacifistic a long time ago – long enough to either selectively breed out or magically eliminate certain traits like fangs and claws from their genetic lines, as well as a number of their more-violent instincts. (It's a cliché bit of species backstory, yes; I'm hoping to flesh it out in the coming days.) Their village is protected by a magical guardian which senses acts of violence and sends out flying snakes to bite and harry out whoever's brought violence there.

A couple of things are odd about Rankiryo, though, that make it difficult for him to live in his village. The first is that he's an atavus; he has traits like fangs and claws and those predatory instincts that haven't been seen in generations. The second is that he firmly rejects the idea that he's a boy.

In classic fantasy style, the idyllic village gets attacked. (Yes; I know, I know.) And when Rankiryo fights back instead of hiding and waiting for the guardians to take care of things, the guardians attack him as well and drive him out. He manages to steal some of his mother's clothes before he's driven out, and now you know as much as I do about how this plot will progress – the rest of the story follows him as he navigates his own nature as a predator, his gender identity, and a predominantly human world.

(I'm using the male pronouns for him because I have figured out that it takes a while for him to understand that he can identify as something other than male, and I want the narration to be able to reflect the eventual paradigm shift.)

Here, have an excerpt from the italicized prologue portion! (I know, I know!) In it, Rankiryo's mother is telling him a story about an incident that occurred in the forest outside their home, when she was nursing him. Also in it, I get the suspicion that this is going to be one of those YA novels.


"As I was washing, something came through the undergrowth. When I looked up the skin-ape stood there, smiling with his blunt teeth, and walked toward me.

"'Lyncis woman,' he said, 'come with me.' His hand fell to his thigh. He had a dagger there. 'Come lie down under the shade of the red papaya.'

"I told him, 'I will not. I am going home.'

"He took the dagger from its sheath. 'Do as I say,' he said. 'I'll hurt you if you resist me.'

"Even that young, you must have understood the threat in the human's voice. You began to howl. That was what called the silver man down the road. He had stopped further up the stream to water his horse, but the sound of a cub crying wound through the air. The skin-ape came up to me and grabbed me by the ruff. He tore my gown. He threw me down against the side of the road and then we heard the thunder of a horse's hooves, and then the silver man was upon us, lance and armor gleaming in the thick gold light.

"He took one look at me, one look at the skin-ape who held me, and without a word plunged his lance right into this other human's chest. The ape's blood fountained up and covered me, and the silver man pulled back. I could not see his eyes. He watched me for a moment, and then turned and rode away without saying a word."

Rankiryo's eyes had closed, and his paws had curled into little fists. He opened up again when his mother stopped speaking, ears swiveling to the side, and forward again. "Why did he save you?"

Rankiryo's mother licked a patch on Rankiroy's forehead, and he squirmed. "I've wondered about that," she said. "I think it was because the skin-ape who threatened me was about to do something profane. It's a great crime for them: to lie down with a lyncis, or any beast who is not human."

"And the silver man had to stop him? Even if the lance would kill him?"

"The silver man had to punish him."
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magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)

January 2017

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