© Charles Vess 2019 Well, I guess now no one can ever accuse me of being safe and staying in my zone. After years and years of pushing and pulling at the words and characters, I’ve finally decided to self-publish my first novel, “The Queen of Summer’s Twilight”. Why self-publish you ask? Well I do have an agent but she as well as my previous agent have read the book and suggested that my writing voice is too old fashioned to sell in the contemporary marketplace. And too, I was told that given the current backlash against writers that aren’t speaking from an authentic cultural orientation that I would be attacked for using a protagonist that is a half Scotts, half Jamaican and a young woman at that. But damned if I’m only going to write about 68-year-old white males. Where’s the fun in that? So, I could either let my story languish unread or suit up and go tilt at thatself-publishing windmill again. Consequently, I’ve asked my good friend Liz Phillips (teacher, fellow writer and maker of delicious mouth-watering scones) to do a very necessary final round of editing to rid the manuscript of my persistently passive voice.
Notes from the Studio
Category: The Queen of Summer’s Twilight
© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Forty-One Janet screamed over the pounding of the hooves, “All of you here are on a fool’s errand this night.” Only the slight flicker of hands on reigns and the turning of Her steed made the mortal girl aware that The Queen had heard her. Then once, twice, three times the mounted Host of Fairy circled moonwise round the hill before coming to an abrupt halt. And there they stood in furious and malevolent silence, rank upon rank, thousands deep, their banners still snapping softly in the breeze. In the heather at Janet’s feet, on either side of her captive, the silver foxes sat and waited and watched with great curiosity. Then crouching low, their delicate snouts close to Thomas’ ears, they began to whisper such stories to him as eased the anger in his heart. Above them all, thick, racing clouds, broke apart to reveal the full moon and a sky full of swiftly tilting stars. Her eyes locked with Janet’s, The Queen stilled the great steed that She sat astride and finally spoke, “Mortal, what you and these others do here this night angers me. You trespass on My kingdom without My leave
© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Thirty-Nine Since the night that so many had been slaughtered at his front gates, everyone that had ever worked for John Ravenscroft had tendered their resignations, leaving him alone to look after the great, empty house. So, it was that the lovely singing voice that carried down the hall and into John’s office where he sat with his head buried in his folded arms, fast asleep, was the first welcoming sound to counter the stillness that had settled for so long over his estate. After they had returned the night before, Janet, claiming exhaustion, had immediately retreated to her room. But Mairi had been too excited at being home again to follow her daughter’s example and had walked with her husband, arm-in-arm, through the great house. Arms linked she had begun to tell him a little of what had happened in that otherland. Later, after Mairi succumbed to exhaustion as well and fell asleep intheirbedroom, John had felt awkward joining her after so long a time apart. So, he’d gone down the hall to his office and sat at his desk where he tried to carefully consider everything he’d heard and seen that night. For him,
© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Thirty-Six As the words of the song faded, Janet sat silently gazing at the distant figure below in elegant red armor that knelt now in supplication before his Queen. “Thomas, what do I have to do to bring you safely home?” She turned back to her mother. “Good for her but there’s more to the song isn’t there?” “Yes. The Queen is left angered and vengeful, cursing the girl and the man she rescued.” Janet couldn’t stop her bitter words. “Just like this bloody bitch of a Queen who is set on ruining her Knight’s life and his fucking honor.” Mairi considered her long-absent daughter for a moment, wishing back the years lost to them both before almost whispering, “Janet, forgive me, but I don’t think such casual doggerel will ever get us the answers we need, or even, deserve.” Quietly the older woman continued, “I didn’t at first, but don’t you think that perhaps even our Queen, unlike the Lady of the ballad, left with some small measure of happiness?” Hands clenched, Janet cried out, “No. I. Don’t!” Trying to sooth her daughter’s distress, Mairi asked, “Is there no forgiveness in your heart for
© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Thirty-Three This time when The Lord of Darkness and of Death entered The Queen’s city, none there sought to impede his progress. He brought with him no army of shadows, but only a single companion, the last great hunting beast that stalked close by his side, fitted with an elaborate harness made of shining black leather. Although the crowd filling Her throne room was relieved to have their Queen with them once more, as her presence granted them some measure of protection, they remembered well their time spent in the dungeon of the treacherous Lord and trembled. As for the great dark creature with his twisting horns it was as if they were not even there. Ignoring the murmuring horde of Fae, he and his hunting beast strode the length of the great hall with all their purpose, intent on only one person: The Queen of Summer’s Twilight. Clothed in resplendent samite, on Her brow a graceful crown of silver, inlaid with green emeralds and in Her slender hand an elegant scepter of gold, The Queen of All Summer’s Twilight sat upon Her great, high throne. One step below, in his acknowledged place of privilege,