Continuing my theme of reporting late on my news–for the first time, “Monstrous Embrace” is online in print, courtesy of Lightspeed Magazine.
The first line came to me in one of those strange, clear moments:
I am ugliness in body and bone, breath and heartbeat. I am muddy rocks and jagged scars snaking across salt-sown fields. I am insect larvae wriggling inside the great dead beasts into which they were born. Too, I am the hanks of dead flesh rotting. I am the ungrateful child’s sneer, the plague sore bursting, the swing of shadow beneath the gallows rope. Ugliness is my hands, my feet, my fingernails. Ugliness is my gaze, boring into you like a worm into rotting fruit.
Listen to me, my prince. Tomorrow, when dawn breaks and you stand in the chapel accepting your late father’s crown, your fate will be set. Do nothing and you will be dead by sundown. Your kingdom will be laid waste, its remnants preserved only in the bellies of carrion birds.
There is another option. Marry me.
The voice on this story was driving. It forced me rapidly through the story. Although I did a lot of revision later, I wrote the whole first draft in a few fluid hours. That’s rare enough for me to savor.
You can also find an audio version at PodCastle.