I became a fan of Mae Clair’s writing with the first book I read. She is not only a talented storyteller but a friend and fellow blogger at Story Empire. I am super thrilled that she has released this new collection of short stories! I’ll let her tell you about it!
And because I am letting Mae Clair have my blog today, there will not be a Wednesday Wonder until next week. 🙂
Hi, Jan. Thanks for hosting me today and allowing me to share my newest release with your readers. Things Old and Forgotten is a collection of short fiction that includes stories in several genres—magical realism, fantasy, speculative, even two that touch on mild horror.
When I was in tenth grade, my English teacher gave me his Lord of the Rings book collection to read, and an entire new realm unfolded before my eyes. Prior to that I’d been reading mostly science-fiction, but the discovery of epic fantasy was unlike anything I’d encountered before. I was hooked and spent the next decade devouring books of wizardry, magical artifacts, and enchanted realms. To this day, I still love a good epic fantasy or sword-and-sorcery novel. When it came time to put together my collection of stories for Things Old and Forgotten, I couldn’t resist including a few fantasy tales. Below is the opening from Kin-Slayer, one of the fantasy tales included in my collection.
I will permit the ghosts their share.
I remember the ocean, glittering with a thousand faceted eyes, sunlight bright as diamonds on the surface. The scent of salt heavy in the air as it twined with the black smoke of cooking fires and the reek of fish left to dry beneath the sun. My home was nestled in a simple village. Small and secluded, Ceadon squatted on a bluff overlooking the water, her nexus a ragged sphere of thatch-roofed hovels.
She was a giddy perch, erected high on a pinnacle of wind-blasted rock. As children, E’ana and I often sat on the edge, watching the tide roll from shore as it carried our father and the other fishermen from sight. In the evening, we would meet them on the beach, anxious to ogle the day’s catch—seaweed-draped pots brimming with lobster and crab, nets so heavy they hugged the sand as the men unloaded a bounty of bluefish and tuna.
It was a modest life, fitting and welcome in those idyllic days of childhood. But childhood, like all things, fades with the passing of time.
At fifteen, E’ana was chosen as a First Daughter, one of the select betrothed to the Leviathan. Though I found the prospect disquieting, E’ana trembled with excitement. She slept little that night, tossing and turning.
I could stand her restlessness no longer. “You’ll make a fine bride, E’ana.”
She twisted in her bed to face me. “I wondered if you were awake.” Her voice sounded watery, as though she’d been crying. A black nebula of hair tumbled over her shoulders. “What if he doesn’t choose me? Atalayah, it would destroy Father if I were passed over! He was so proud of me today.”
Beyond the walls of the hut, wind played over the dunes, conjuring sand into fleeting demons. Wind can sound like water when it chooses—merciless, powerful. It made me think of dried fish heads twined with kelp and hung from doorways as protection against gales. Of the Elders huddled in their shacks. They feared the wind almost as much as the denizens of the deep, but there was no sky god to placate and bribe with virgin flesh as they did with the sea.
“It isn’t a failure to be passed over, E’ana. Many of the First Daughters have lasted as long as three seasons. The matrons speak of a few who survived all five and were permitted to marry.”
“What men would have them?”
My anger flared. “Better to wed flesh than die in the sea!”
“I’m sorry. That was jealousy speaking.”
The lie appeared to pacify her.
“And what have you to be jealous of, sister? You may never be a First Daughter, but you are a First Sword. One would be hard-pressed to name the greater honor.”
“As you say.” I had no further words, knowing they would fall on deaf ears. In time, I heard the evenness of her breathing, signaling sleep. Inwardly, I seethed. Didn’t she realize the luxuries of a First Daughter—the finest fish of the day’s catch, the best seat at village festivals, even the perfumed silks imported from the south—were simply bribes to soften the blow? The Elders told her she was destined for immortality, but she was an offering, nothing more. The Leviathan might protect us from sea dragons and merrows, but its cost of tribute was too high.
The sky had grayed with dawn before I found the peace to sleep.
A man keeping King Arthur’s dream of Camelot alive.
A Robin Hood battling in a drastically different Sherwood.
A young man facing eternity in the desert.
A genteel southern lady besting a powerful order of genies.
A woman meeting her father decades after his death.
These are but a few of the intriguing tales waiting to be discovered in Things Old and Forgotten. Prepare to be transported to realms of folklore and legend, where magic and wonder linger around every corner, and fantastic possibilities are limited only by imagination.
Thanks again for hosting me, Jan. In honor of my love for autumn—a fantastic time to curl up with a book—Things Old and Forgotten will be on sale for .99c through October 31st.
Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts: