Cursed Ones: Changeling teaser

As they crested the hill to the cave’s copse, a robed figure limped toward them. They slowed their pace when they saw that it was one of the holies, the older one.

Morwenna stooped in a bow. “Holy Cadmon.” When Leto hesitated, she nudged him in the ribs and he slowly lowered his head.

“Hunter Morwenna, Rider Leto,” he rasped, tilting down his head. “I saw that you would leave today. Have you seen your beast again since first you came, Rider Leto?”

Leto winced. “No, Holy Cadmon.”

“We thought as much. Come, out of the snow.” He turned and hobbled back to the copse, Morwenna and Leto on his heels. “Holy Trahern and I took the liberty to recruit one who might be able to help your quest in that regard. Rider Leto, Hunter Morwenna, this is Eleri.” Continue reading

A basic writer Q & A

Because they can be insightful, because I have nothing better to do that’s a lie, I should be developing the world of Changeling more, or writing more Abomination, or editing Purity, or starting on the rewrite of Of the Arbour, or–

And hey, maybe it’ll give everyone else more of an idea of just why I do what I do, and where this all comes from.

Taken from the deviantART page of Elisa Nuckle.
1. When did you start writing?

I’ve been writing stories for most of my life. I cleaned out my closet recently and discovered so many little half-baked stories that I’d come up with when I was younger than ten. I’ve known I’ve wanted to be an author since I was 13, but only recently have taken the major steps toward that goal, and actually written something worth publication.

2. When you were a beginning writer, what did your write primarily? What do you write now, primarily?  (i.e. romance, fan-fiction, poetry)

I wrote plenty of Star Wars fanfiction that will never see the light of day. From there, I began to write sci fi stories that were based closely on Star Wars. In grade seven, a friend and I wrote a novel about vampires called Tears of Blood, which was completely scrapped save for one character: Fane, the son of Dracula, who now resides in Purity. I now usually write fantasy, high and epic. Continue reading

Fantasy is ever-evolving

When I first started writing Changeling, the story was set on a single continent: Cyril. It was, like much fantasy, a decidedly medieval European setting – of the thirteen territories, five are based on England, one on France, one on Scotland, one on Wales, one on Poland/Czech Republic, one on Greece, and one on English colonies. Then as the story progressed, I added a second continent, which was based on Indian and Arabic settings of the real world; this was called Kriss.

Imagination progressed, as it is apt to do, and a third continent was imagined: Althaea. Although none of Changeling is set on Althaea, references are made to the culture to the east, and it is mentioned in passing. Althaea is based on German and Native American cultures, as well as English colonies, because the people of Cyril have shipped across the sea to try to claim it as their own.

So here I am, 70 000+ words into Changeling’s sequel, Abomination, and out of the blue while I’m working, I come up with a fourth continent idea, the tentative name of which is Thörstaag.

It, obviously, will be based on Norse and Scandinavian cultures. Continue reading

Monsters of the Past: Changeling teaser

I swallowed a lump in my throat and my hand drifted to my knife, which I had taken to wearing on my hip instead of my leg once we entered the Old Lands. “Logan, I am the one who lives in this territory,” I said weakly. “I am the one who had to convince you that it wasn’t haunted. But this place… it feels wrong.”

Logan stopped and looked at me, head cocked to the side. Sophia crunched away, oblivious to our hesitation. “Riane, this is why we came here. My legs haven’t stopped hurting since we left home, and I have never been filthier. But this is why we came, remember? We were going on an adventure to break from the monotony of our lives.”

I bit my lip and stole another glance in the direction of the fort. “I like the monotony,” I whispered, but he ignored me and jogged away to catch up with Sophia.

I watched their retreating backs, and my grip tightened on the hilt of my dagger. Night was quickly falling; soon we would be lost in the darkness, and I knew I wasn’t about to camp next to the ruins of the fort. We would have to walk back to Vavenby, and that would take all night.

My gut twisted and a shiver crawled down my spine. We were trapped. Continue reading

The Drunkard King: Changeling teaser

Jory dodged her and watched her skip through the murky evening. “Who is she?” he asked as I stepped up to him.

“Sophia Henson. Captain Sophia Henson,” I corrected, rolling my eyes. “You have probably heard of her. Her father was the late pirate king of Canton, Vincent Henson. Some people call her a queen. Most call her the Pretender.”

Logan cleared his throat as he stepped past. “Be nice, mutt,” he said, and followed Sophia out the door.

Jory watched him go, as well. I doubted his eyebrows could get any higher. “Who is he?

I resisted the urge to rub my head. “My younger half-brother. He’s also the heir to a Southern Kingdom. Let’s go.” I grabbed his hand and towed him from the big house before he could ask any more questions. Continue reading

The King Without a Crown: Changeling teaser

He made another noise, then crunched a few steps away. “Take off their blindfolds. We have nothing to hide from the likes of them.”

Rough hands yanked at my hair as the knots were untied, then the blindfold was pulled away and I saw him.

He stood a metre or so away, arms folded across the broad expanse of his chest. He wore dark cloth trousers and a similar tunic, with sturdy leather boots tied to his knees. Draped over his shoulders was a thick black fur cloak, which was clasped in the front with the tarnished bronze face of a bear. Tall and powerful, he watched us with dark eyes beneath thick, beetled brows; his hair was long and curled, pulled back from his face with a single braid down the side. Continue reading

Naming a book

And what a bloody process it is.

The title of the book is, obviously, one of the most important parts of the writing process itself. If you have a stupid name, despite how good the book may be, people are going to judge it and be less likely to pick it up or buy it.

Being that I work in a bookstore, I encounter some pretty heinous book titles quite often. Namely, romance and mystery titles. They’re often punny or just straight up ridiculous.

Ideally, you would name your book something enticing that relates well with the plot or characters. For example, my favourite book, Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon, is called Outlander because the main character, Claire Randall, is nicknamed Sassenach by her confidante Jamie Fraser; Sassenach is a Scots Gaelic word meaning, you guessed it, outlander (at worst; at best, it means Englishman, which Claire also is).  Continue reading

The Continent of Cyril: Changeling mythology

A hand-drawn map of Cyril

These are a few historical notes and facts about the continent of Cyril, which the story Changeling is set. The world of Changeling has several continents, but the entirety of the first novel is set on Cyril.

Cyril is a large continent to the west of Althaea and north of Kriss, and is the most populated continent yet discovered. Though it is physically smaller than Althaea, more people choose to make it their homes, due to the diverse history of the countries, and less of a chance for random warfare.

Cyril is made up of thirteen territories. Willowfirth is the northernmost land, consisting of boreal forests, ancient mountains and glaciers. It is home to elven clans, and is the only known place where dragons will nest and breed.

Continue reading

The Silver Room: Purity teaser

Purity was my baby when I first began writing long works of fiction. She’s on hiatus – due to the largely vampiric nature of the story, and my disdain for all things vampire after Twilight killed it – but I am still in love with her characters. This is a scene from the very beginning, when the two main characters – Caitlyn and Fane – meet for the first time.

She shuffled up behind him, watching curiously as he ran his hand over the top of the wainscoting, which was designed with circular knobs in a very simple style. One of these protruded forward a slight more than the rest, and had a hole beside it. Wentworth reached into the breast pocket of his shirt and unearthed a tiny silver key without many decorations, with the exception of edging in gold and a little insignia stamped onto it. It must be the symbol of the Blade Corporation.

Wentworth slid the teeth into the hole and turned, then put the key back into his pocket and grabbed the knob. He gently rotated it, and a door, whose edges were hidden by the frame of the portrait, whispered open, revealing a room full of darkness. Before Caitlyn could see anything dangerous about a shrine of silverware, Robert nudged her inside and followed her, shutting the door behind them. They were instantly trapped in perfect blackness.

They stood in silence for some time. Well, almost silence. Caitlyn could hear her heart thudding dementedly away in her chest, and her breathing was loud in her ears, but there was something in the background that made icy fingers crawl up her spine. The room was chilling, colder than a fine sprinkle of snow. The invisible walls seemed to be swelling and deflating, breathing around them. Her hearing was randomly interrupted by a high-pitched clang, as if somebody was tapping two pieces of metal together—maybe forks? she thought with some amusement.

But what bothered her most was the whispering she heard in her head. It was a low male voice with an accent that sounded eerily like her father’s. She couldn’t tell what the voice was saying, but it sounded like a curse in some ancient tongue. A shiver rippled through her flesh, and she backed up on the grungy floor, bumping into the thin, skeleton of a man standing behind her.

She jumped and nearly yelped when the door opened again. She blinked against the sudden bright light, but when she recovered she tried to use the light to find out why exactly it was called the silver room, but she had no such luck. If this shrine was at all dangerous, she couldn’t tell.

The door shut before she could spot anything; when it eased shut with a click, the chanting in her mind instantly stilled.

The room was suddenly filled with the acrid smell of Blade’s cigar. He sounded like he was fumbling with something. This was confirmed when his gruff accent cut through the silence of the room with a demand. “Robert, hold this.”

“What is it?” Wentworth asked quietly.

“A candle. I can’t see a bloody fricking thing in here. Hold still.”

“Have you put more thought into connecting the electricity to the light here?” Robert wondered.

Blade made a strange noise in his throat as he lit a match. There was a brief flare of light as it burst to life. He touched it to the wick of the candle in Robert’s hand, and then shook it out, dropping it to the floor. Taking the candle from his employee so it illuminated every fine line on his chubby face, and made his dark eyes dance with something that resembled terror, he replied quietly, “Then it could see.”

A sudden low laugh ripped through Caitlyn’s mind, and she jerked backward, startled. Dread swiftly filled her form, and she pressed herself against the wall, close to Wentworth. Both men with her jumped slightly—they heard it too, but she could have sworn that it hadn’t been her ears that picked up the sound. It had been inside her head.

Now she was sure that that silver room did not contain silverware.

“Jesus Christ,” Al hissed. His knuckles were white where he gripped the candle. “Leave, Robert.”

“But, sir—”

“Bloody hell, if you say one more thing about the profits it could make, or how she’s just a kid, I’ll feed you to it myself! Goddamn it, Robert, get out!” the businessman snarled, glowering at the taller, stick-like man.

This time, she knew it came from somewhere in the room. The down hairs on the back of her neck and her arms lifted when the deep, quiet voice murmured teasingly, “Yes, say one more thing, Robert. Let him feed you to it.”

Robert was all too ready to comply. He stole one apologetic glance at Caitlyn, whispered, “Please forgive me,” and left the room. For the fraction of time the door was open, Caitlyn thought she saw something hunched over in the corner of the room—which, like the rest, had hardwood floors, wallpaper and wainscoting—but when the door shut, and they were once again locked in darkness, she chased the thought from her mind. This had to be a way of unnerving her so she would tell them about her father’s work. That was the only logical explanation for this madness.

Or was it? a dark part in her mind asked.

Caitlyn glanced up at Al, and felt a sudden warmth toward him. Whatever was in this room, it had to be worse than this man. This fat, crooked businessman was her only ally. Gross.

He licked his lips anxiously, his dark eyes flicking around the room. Clearing his throat, he said as bravely as possible, “Well, Miss Negrescu, I’m not going to ask you anymore about your father’s program right now, all right? I’m still going to ask about your father, but… well, let’s just get to it, hm? I don’t like this room much. I think the man who sold me this house forgot to tell me that it’s haunted,” he added, trying—and failing miserably—to sound nice. There was a panicked tinge to his voice, and the smile forced on his lips was pained and wavering. He was twirling the fat cigar in his fingers, and she could hear his toe tapping on the wooden floor.

“Ghosts aren’t real,” she whispered, too quietly for him to hear. It wasn’t something she believed, herself. After watching The Shining at her friend Emma’s house, she believed that the supernatural was far too real.

“Your father’s from Romania, isn’t he?” When Caitlyn nodded, Blade imitated the motion. “Yes, I’ve noticed he still has an accent. He isn’t from Bucharest, is he? That’s the capital.”

“He’s from Braşov,” she corrected, feeling her brows pull together. What did this have to do with anything?

“Ah, yes, that’s right. Thank you. You’ve been there?”


“To visit his rather large family, I presume. Tell me, Miss Negrescu, has he brought you to Bran Castle? I hear it’s a very popular tourist destination.”

“A beautiful creation,” something whispered in the room. Whenever that voice made itself known, the room seemed to get colder and colder, until her entire body was riddled with gooseflesh. Caitlyn couldn’t tell if the sound came from her mind or somewhere else. Maybe she was going crazy. Maybe his house was actually haunted.

“I’ve been there,” she murmured, swallowing a lump in her throat and wishing the candle lit the room better. They should have brought the lamp. Or a flashlight. She was glad she had the teddy with her.

“Have you heard the stories about Bran Castle, and Romania in general?” Blade asked, tilting his head to the side questioningly. “About how it was once populated by creatures called vampires? I’ve heard through the grapevine that your mother used to tell you stories about vampires. It’s odd, isn’t it? That she believed in Romanian creatures even though she was from Ireland? Or Canada, rather, but she lived in Ireland, didn’t she? Perhaps your father believes in leprechauns and pots of gold,” he added, chuckling. Caitlyn gawked up at him, wondering what he was getting at. “Your mother believed in vampires, and doesn’t your housekeeper, Abigail Johnston?”

Caitlyn shrunk back from him, feeling a frosty shiver penetrate her veins. “Vampires aren’t real,” she murmured. This time, it was something she believed. There weren’t any vampires in The Shining, and she and Emma had been too chicken to watch Dracula right after viewing the first film.

“Is that what you think? It’s what your father thinks, isn’t it? But in no way what Dierdre and Abigail think. See, Miss Negrescu, I’m a bit like your mother and housekeeper, I think,” he continued softly. He was sounding less calm now. Fear was edging back into his voice, threatening to overpower him. “I believe in them.”

“They aren’t real…”

“I believe the contrary, my dear. In fact… I own one.”

Another metallic click ripped through the chilly air, and a quiet voice with a growling accent hissed, sounding right beside Caitlyn’s face, “You could never own one of the strigoi morţi.”

The corner of Al’s mouth twitched downward, but he remained as courageous as possible. “May I introduce Fane Dracul?” he said, lifting his arm toward the center of the small room. The flickering orange light reflected off something shiny and silver, and Caitlyn stared in horror. This had to be a trick… an optical illusion… she was dreaming…

This dream was a nightmare. The thing before her looked like a man, but this was no ordinary man. Though it was folded on the floor in the corner, it looked like a giant. Its hair was deep ebony, and it caught light from the flame, which caused strands of reds, golds and deep browns to pierce the shadows of the long locks. And long they were. They were tied back, and fell in straight unison, interrupted by only a few waves, inches past his shoulders. A few loose strands fell before his face, covering eyes from hell itself. They were narrowed with menace, locked on Alfred Blade, and a deep, blood-chilling scarlet, highlighted with vermillion, crimson and dark orange. The colour of spilled human blood.

The flesh was pulled taut over hollow cheeks and a long nose. It was a stark contrast to the hair, as it was whiter than snow, but showed no spidery blue veins underneath, as fair skin often did. The chin was narrow and somewhat pointed, and the brow was smooth with immaculate black eyebrows.

This thing wore a bizarre assortment of clothes. Long legs were covered by black trousers, simple and classy, and the feet wore dress shoes that looked strangely modern yet old-fashioned at the same time. It wore a white shirt from some old era that had somewhat belled sleeves, and tight cuffs and collar, with a black waistcoat overtop. The buttons were golden. Underneath its neck was some sort of old-timey scarlet tie. The vest was formfitting, pulling the shirt close to its torso; it seemed to be very slim, on the edge of skinny, but looked powerful. Caitlyn couldn’t decide if it was beautiful or horrifying.

Even though thick silver manacles were clamped about its wrists and it was chained to the wall behind it, the thing emanated glory and royal magnificence. It was terrifying.

Caitlyn couldn’t look away, but desperately wished she no longer had the image burned before her eyes.

77 167 words and counting

I’m really falling for the intermingling stories in Changeling. Most of the novels I have written have focussed on one main character, with maybe a few chapters from the villain’s point of view, or those of the main character’s closest companions. For example, in Of the Arbour and Of the Arena, most of the story is written from Sage’s perspective, but there are several points where we enter the head of the villain, Cain, to give a more diverse story, as well as going into the point of view of Briar, Sage’s longtime friend, for scenes that are given much more depth and intensity due to her being totally blind.

Changeling is much different. Most of the chapters are told from the main character’s perspective – this being Aisling, in the first person, which I rarely use and am starting to really enjoy – however there are other chapters written around other characters. I know you’re thinking “Jessica, that isn’t new. People go into the heads of multiple characters all the time.” I’ve never done it to this extent before – there are so many different plots all twisting together, related but without the characters knowing. Aisling and her relationships with Alistair, Leir, Zdenek, the elves of Willowfirth, and even her own parents, and her twisted history; Alistair and his journey to becoming a mage and king, and heal his broken country in the midst of kidnapping and war; Lacramioara and helping Zdenek in plotting to [spoiler] with the help of a pirate ally and his own flock of supermages, and her own internal turmoil over her childhood feelings regarding Aisling; Vincent and struggling to raise a rambunctious ten year old alone as well as remain the strongest de facto leader of Canton, while still controlling his pirate fleet and wage war as Zdenek’s ally; Leto and remaining a true and loyal rider of the elves of Willowfirth, keeping to his faith and quest, his feelings for an untouchable human within his clan, and his deep-rooted suspicions of Aisling.

These are just the characters who have chapters told in their perspective. There’s also the secrets of Zdenek himself, as well as those of the upper echelon of the Willowfirth elves and Aisling’s parents, and the conflicts of kingdoms. Throw in minor skirmishes and conflicts, mythological creatures and random uprooting and relocation – such as moving the princess of Nallis (Alistair’s little sister) to a desert island nation – and this is one of the more complicated stories I’ve ever written.

I love it :3

And as usual, there are some minor characters shoving their way into the spotlight. Vincent’s daughter, Sophia, is so freaking adorable. Her father isn’t the stereotypical dirty pirate lord – in fact, he’s a little neurotic – and because of it, she’s wild and is majorly raised by his right-hand man, Saïd. As shown in a recent post, when she meets Alistair she clings to him straight off the bat. He’s technically her enemy, due to him being the son of the enemy of her father’s ally (confusing!) but she’s so innocent and curious about anything and everything around her that she just doesn’t care. Another character, Morwenna, is similar to Sophia in that she’s minor and stealing the limelight. She’s an elf that ends up being taken under Leto’s wing; she’s too curious for her own good, as well as being clumsy and a little naive when it comes to the world, and Leto treats her like a daughter.

Ah, I’m most pleased with Changeling right now. I keep getting ideas and I’m so excited to get them in. Shit is really starting to hit the fan for Aisling and Co, and they’re going to hate me for it.

“This is the most beautiful room I have ever seen,” she breathed, slowly moving to a mosaic and tentatively reaching with her fingers. It was an image of a beautiful nude woman with flowing golden hair; at her waist started the body of a fish, and her hands were webbed. Her piercing stare was made of two sapphires, flawless and sparkling in the sunlight shining through the room.

“Can you imagine what Mahara Pavanir’s rooms must be like if this is just a guest wing?” I moved up beside her and tilted my head to the side. “What type of gem do you suppose that is?”

“I’m more curious as to why someone would use a gem for her nipples, and not just glass like the rest of it.”

“Perverse fascination, perhaps? It looks flawless, but that might have been overdone.”

“I am really starting to love walking into your conversations,” Adele piped up. Leir and I glanced back at the entrance to the apartments to see her standing just inside the room, a small smile curling her lips. “Most servants censor themselves no matter what, for both conversation content and accent. I see why my brother is so fond of you.”

I flushed and pointedly looked away from the mosaic, embarrassed, but Leir only grinned. “We are most sorry, milady,” she said in her false western accent, sounding anything but sorry.