Real talk: For a very long time after finishing my last story, I struggled with ADHD-induced writer’s block. Then I got medicated and got stimulated and hey ho whaddaya know, I’m now simultaneously working on two novels, to (fates be kind) be first-drafted by February at the very latest.
One is a fantasy novel I’ve been germinating for a good ten years. It’s prosey and past-tensey and pretty much pure storytelling of the kind I’ve always loved in books like The Last Unicorn and The Princess Bride. The other is the Trail of Dead sequel, which is … Well, it’s the Trail of Dead sequel. It’s noir. It’s pulp. It’s action. You love this shit or you don’t, and good health to you either way.
Anyhow! Since a lot of people REALLY REALLY love Rhye, and because Chuck Wendig asked so very nicely, I’m posting a short excerpt from the latter for your very brief reading enjoyment. Caveat: It’s a first draft, so it’s not as spit-shined as editor-polished work, obviously. Look for the finished product in a year or two! Maybe. Hopefully.
II: IN WHICH MADAME ENTERTAINS A VISITOR
9 AM the next morning there’s a rap on the front door. Rhye’s already awake because she never went to sleep. She is also stone-cold sober and she’s been thinking about her life all night and so she answers the knock with a pistol cleaned six times in the past eight hours ready-steady-take-off-your-heady clutched in one hand, clusters of nerves twitching clickcode for DANGER in seventeen different planetary languages beneath the stress fractures of her good left eye. In all her long, sticky, blurry months of squatting in this place like a choleric bear peacefully shitting itself to death, nobody has ever bothered knocking. Not for love, not for money, and sure as hell not at 9 in the fucking AM, when all the locals are either sleeping it off or tying it on or trudging to the docks in their workboots. It’s a week of firsts that is about to be some motherfucker’s last call.
“Say whatever say-so you got to say and get the fuck going before I call the landlord and she pulls a gun on you or something. Wait, shit, too late.” Click goes the hammer drawing back its pinchy little fist. “I hope this has a beginning that starts with cookies and ends with you leaving the cookies on my welcome mat as you skip back in the direction of that road over there.”
Long pause. A woman’s voice, hesitant, mostly muffled by the door.
“… You don’t … have a welcome mat.”
“Yeah, and I’m beginning to suspect you don’t have any fuckin’ cookies for me either so we appear to be at what you’d call an impasse. Speak. Don’t stutter.” She leans the door open a crack. On the other side her unseen visitor jumps back so quickly Rhye hears their heels splintering through the rotten boards. Whoopsie. “And don’t think I didn’t notice that sass. You wanna get cute, you can take that shit out back and see how well it works as a shovel.”
“Look, I think there’s been some sort of misunderstanding—“
“You’re goddamned right there’s been some sort of misunderstanding. You’re about to misunderstand your way onto a fuckin’ bullet if you don’t start talking or walking.”