When the sea is doing a good imitation of glass, and the sun is shining… It’s good.
On days when the wind howls and the sea, current and wind turn the swell into a herringbone pattern of unpredictable chop, and salt spray has soaked to the skin any bits the rain missed, and you’ve miles of spine-jarring bounce to go… well, be a man my son. This too will end.
And rather the same is true of being a writer. Launch day is a beach landing in big surf. At the end… For me, beach landings, the worst is that final rush for the beach, timing the waves, bailing over the side at that first sugary grate of the keel to swing the bow around fast, so the boat can face into the surf and not get swamped and lost. A second too late and a wave will break over the stern and you’re in all sorts of trouble, and if it hits while you’re broadside on, the whole boat can flip. We’ve had a few close calls, a few half-swamped boats to haul out.
But I keep doing it. And the same is true of bringing out new books.
I’m on 20 something now, and I still have a sick tenseness in my stomach. I’ve given the book my best. It’s been through the production process. I daresay our puppy kickers who have displayed over and over that ideology is more important than integrity to them, will be doing their best to hurt on principle, to put up fake reviews and generally to bad-mouth something they haven’t read. That is their normal behavior, like the shore-break. We live with it. We hope our friends are quick to turn the boat into the waves and write honest reviews.
It’s my first official venture into YA, which makes it worse, although I don’t believe that a book that’s good enough for younger readers can be that unless it is good enough for adult audiences. The standard just should be higher for younger audiences.
Anyway – the book comes out tomorrow and the price will probably go up from the pre-order $6.49
The picture is a link
Teenager Tim Ryan comes into his own as he faces danger on a remote Australia island where magic lurks in land and sea.
Tim Ryan can’t shake the feeling that he is different from other teens, and not in a good way. For one thing, he seems to have his own personal poltergeist that causes fires and sets him up to be arrested for shoplifting.
As a result Tim has been sent to live on a rundown farm on a remote island off the coast of Australia with his crazy grandmother, a woman who seems to talk to the local spirits, and who refuses to cushion Tim from facing his difficulties. To make matters worse, Tim is expected to milk cows, chase sheep, and hunt fish with a spear.
But he’s been exiled to an island alive with ancient magic—land magic that Tim can feel in his bones, and sea magic that runs in his blood. If Tim can face down the danger from drug-runners, sea storms, and the deadly threat of a seal woman who wishes to steal him away for a lingering death in the land of Faery, he may be able to claim the mysterious changeling heritage that is his birthright, and take hold of a legacy of power beyond any he has ever imagined.
And one of my favorite snippets.
” We’ll go spearing flounder. Get yer shorts on.”
She fetched out an old inner tube that had a cut-off
twenty-five-liter tin jammed into the middle of it, and a
barb-pointed fork on a pole, and a spare car battery from
the shed, and a light on a pole. Minutes later Tim drove
them, bumping down the track to the beach. The sea
was mirror-calm, still and, in the shallows, not too cold.
The light was waterproof and pushed underwater. Shoals
of tiny silver fish schooled to it, and then, in sudden
alarm, darted away. “I can’t see well enough, Tim,” she
said, as they waded in the knee-deep water. “You’ll have
to look for the fish. They’re diamond shaped an’ you’ll
see their eyes. They hide in the sand. You’ll see squid
and flathead sometimes too.”
Tim looked. He saw the tiny silver fish, and a curious
slim long-beaked garfish, skipping away . . . and nothing
else, until he stood on a flounder. He screamed and fell
over as it swam off.
“I stood on something that squirmed under my foot
and swam off.”
“Quick,” she said eagerly. “Up you get, see if you can
follow the dust to where it settles.”
All Tim wanted to do right then was run for the shore,
but she was so urgent, he stood up and looked around.
And sure enough, there was a trail in the still water of
the silt that the fish had stirred up. He walked closer . . .
and nearly stood on it again before he saw it. It camouflaged
well, and the edges of the fish were blurred into
the sand. “I can see it. What do I do now?” he asked,
looking down at it in wonderment, seeing the two small
eyes looking up.
“Walk really slowly and quietly until it is less than an
arm’s length from yer feet. Take yer time. Then lower the
spearpoint into the water, until it is maybe a hand-width
above it. Then yer push it down, hard, fast.”
Tim did as he’d been told. He couldn’t believe the fish
wouldn’t swim off, but it didn’t. It just lay there as the
spear point got closer. He couldn’t breathe and it felt like
the weight of the whole universe was pressing on him.
Why should he care, a part of him demanded? But he
did. He had to. He was sure he was going to miss . . .
He thrust the spear down into the water as hard as he
could, and felt the sudden quiver and thrash as he lifted
the fish. “I got it! I got it! I got it!!!” he yelled.
It was really weird. It sounded like a thousand people
were yelling with him too, drumming their feet on the
hard sand. Shouting in triumph, not in English, but he
understood them anyway. And just then he felt like he was
one of them. Like part of some huge family, generations
of them, looking at him, and yelling in delight. The fish
was beautiful and he was enormously grateful for it, that
it had been there to be speared. To be food. That feeling
was strange as an idea in itself, but right, somehow. He
rocked on his heels in the sand, giddy with the adrenalin
rush, as he stood there, holding the speared fish up to
the star-patterned night.
“Well done!” said his gran, her voice full of pleasure
too. “Hold him over the box, Tim.”
Tim did, and his grandmother worked the fish over
the prongs with her knife. “Yer first fish. You done good,
young man,” she said.
She’d always called him “boy” before. “That was just
like . . . amazing!” He meant the way it had stayed still,
and that really odd feeling he’d had when he’d thrust
the spear through it. He was still shaking from it all.
And for once his grandmother seemed to understand
without him trying to explain. She put a hand on his
shoulder. “It’s in yer blood, Tim. My people have always
done this. Always and always. This is our place. This is
what we do, this is what we are. Without it, we’re just
leaves in the wind. I’m glad yer here to carry it on.” Then
she shook herself, and said gruffly. “Well, don’t just stand
there. Get on with it. We need another one for our tea.”
Tim was thoroughly wet, and the air was cool, but
absolutely nothing could have stopped him from getting
on with it. And now that he knew what he was looking
for, he saw the next fish, about twenty meters away. And
then, a little farther on, two more close together.
“That’s enough for us. We can’t keep ’em,” said his gran.
Tim was still too fired up to want to stop. “But . . .”
She shook her head. “Yer don’t kill what yer don’t
need. Other people will want a fish too.”
She sounded a bit like McKay about the flathead, thought
Tim, as they walked towards the shore. And there, lying
against a trail of weed, was an enormous flathead in his
grandmother’s light. Tim didn’t care if they didn’t need it.
He wanted that fish. He stalked forward, spear ready. Only
this fish did not stay still, but swam off into the dark deep.
He turned to follow.
“What is it?” asked his grandmother.
“Flathead! A really, really big one.”
“Yer won’t get it once they start swimming away. Yer
came up in front of it, didn’t yer?”
“Yes. But I was careful. Slow.”
“Come up from behind next time. And don’t try to
follow it. They’ll lead you out. I thought I saw that dratted
seal-woman out there. She means no good to yer.
Drowned a few of your ancestors and left their widows
to raise the child on their own.”
“I don’t have any children.”
“Then maybe she won’t drown yer, yet.”
His grandmother was weird. Couldn’t see the fish, but
thought she could see imaginary seal-women.
By the time they got to the beach, Tim realized just
how cold and wet he was. But he was still full of the
hunt. He felt . . . right. His ears seemed still full of drumming,
and his body was tired, but oddly full of energy.
He had strange dreams that night. Strange, but good.
Full of smoke and drumming of heels on hard sand, and
people dancing in the firelight, and he was there with
them, dancing too, passing through the smoke.
Wish me luck, and good sales, friends.