Contrary to popular belief, no one ever writes books, makes movies, or becomes a musician for fame, power, or money. They all do it for one thing and one thing only: Fan Art.
I got my first fan art recently and by recently I mean a few months ago but I’m a mook and totally forgot to upload it and gush like another sort of mook.
Contrary to what one might think, it isn’t PURITY fan art, but CHANGELING, unpublished and collecting dust on my hard drive while I write its threequel, I swear. CB himself actually made this art – based on one of the early scenes of CHANGELING in which main character Aisling and her band of merry soldiers gets entangled with bandits bent on assault and robbery.
Aisling (orange) is a pyrophoric mage – meaning she has the innate power to produce and control fire. Leir (blue) is cryonic – meaning she is basically Elsa and can control ice and snow the cold never bothered her anyway.
Tying into this, actually… I was recently writing USURPER, Changeling’s threequel, and I wrote myself into a corner in which I needed lyrics to a ballad. Being completely nonpoetic myself, I commissioned by friend Bethany, a songwriter and poet, to come up with a few lines for me. Inspired by the idea of writing a lament and also the lure of Mars bars Bethany jumped aboard with gusto and wrote not just a few lines, but an entire song – and then decided she wanted to write lyrics to a heroic ballad I had referenced elsewhere in the same chapter.
So, without further ado, one stanza of Winter Song, written by Bethany Sanjenko for USURPER.
When the winter winds came, he put on his boots He opened the door and tightened his noose Now he lays in a grave, shallow and cold No one to have and no one to hold
I’m hella pumped on all this. And according to CB Archer, now I have succeeded!
Also, you should go check out his page and Bethany’s Soundcloud, both linked. His as of yet unpublished book is hysterical, and Bethany is seriously talented.
Kat lifted a hand to shield her eyes from the brightness of the New York summer sun, then glanced down at her watch.
“How much time is left until the monotony of daily life continues?” John asked from the bench beside her, muffled from a mouthful of sandwich.
“Twenty minutes.” Kat glanced sidelong at him, smiling. “You have food on your chin,” she said, and laughed when John’s cheeks flushed crimson and he hastily swabbed at his face. “What’s Mom got cooking for you today?” she teased. She knew it was mean to mock the poor guy, but any man over thirty who blushed like that had it coming.
“Honey,” he muttered, eyes cast down at the wrapping on his lap. “She’s convinced I’m still ten.”
“Oh, Johnny Appleseed,” Kat said in her best Jersey accent, “I’ve got a honey sandwich for my honey baby.”
“And your mother is any better?”
“My mother makes me eat borscht until I’m sick,” Kat said, shrugging and toying with the end of her ponytail. Something shot across the sky above them, and she followed the flight of a large white bird.
John followed her gaze. “Oh. Look who’s come to say hello.”
Kat bit the inside of her lip to keep from grimacing as the white bird descended and she caught sight of the brown cape and green accents. “He means well,” she said, shrugging again.
Norman landed with absurd grace and jogged over, face flushed and beaming. She smiled as he approached, and wondered for the millionth time how his hair managed to stay perfectly in place when he was shooting around the city in the jetstreams. “Babe!” he called, grinning as he waved. “How much time do you have left on your lunch?”
Kat glanced at her watch again. “A little under twenty minutes. Why?” she asked as he stopped in front of them in all his ridiculous muscular glory.
He grinned and tapped the pouches at his belt. “Twenty minutes? Neat. I’m gonna rock your world.”
Kat felt her face heat up and heard John mutter obscenities under his breath beside her. “Norman, you remember John?”
Norman looked at John, eyes round and startled as if he hadn’t even noticed there was another person next to her. “Oh. Hi. I’m Landman.”
“I know who you are,” John said, glaring narrowly up at him. Kat wondered if the scowl was from the sunlight or Norman’s presence. “Your symbol looks like a pile of shit,” he mumbled, too quietly for Norman to hear.
“You’ll catch more flies with honey,” Kat reminded him, and was rewarded with a small smile. “Can you rock my world later, Norman? I have to go back to work soon.”
Unfazed, Norman beamed. “Sure thing, babe. Catch ya later.” With a sloppy salute, he backed away, bent his knees, and fumbled into the sky, leaving Kat and John on their bench in the park surrounded by the remains of a honey sandwich.
Cupping hands around a mouth, whispering to emulate screaming crowds. An air-guitar held aloft; a single chord strummed and the arm brought up. Hands patting the metal post of the monkey bars in a frenetic drumbeat. The crunch of gravel as feet land heavily and the devil horns are raised up in defiance.
“I’m gonna do it today!”
“Yeah! I’m ready. The fans are ready. It’s time.”
Feet crunching across gravel. A hissing audience calling encore! encore!
Metal clanging as hands and feet clamber up to the peak of the playground. More devil horns. More enthusiastic hooting and laughing.
A grin. An excited twinkle in innocent eyes.
Another air-guitar; another chord.
Thud thud thud with each eager step—then knees hit plastic and for a moment they scoot smoothly, like a rock god across a stage. Then denim catches on a bump and with a shout a little body tumbles down the slide and lands face-first in the gravel at the foot.
Pop! With a burst of fat, the bacon sizzles in the pan and the house fills with the mouth-watering aroma of frying pig meat. A sting burns your arm, and you glance down to see a red spot forming, but you barely feel the pain. Moving mechanically, you push the bacon with the fork, scraping the tines across the bottom of the no-stick-but-you-totally-have-to-use-Pam-otherwise-it’ll-stick pan.
Another bubble of fat pops and sprays your arm. You sigh.
With a yawn and scuffle of feet, he walks in. His hand grazes your bottom through the thin satin pyjamas; just like with the fat, you barely feel it. It is not lecherous, though you don’t doubt that his intent is. To you, it is little more than an irritating flutter, like a moth circling a flame.
“You’re making breakfast for me?” he says, laughter in his voice. He rounds past you and peers at the stove. “Jesus Christ, you burned the bacon again. You can’t even cook fucking bacon?”
You look up at him and it is as if you are seeing him for the very first time. Seeing clearly, like the fog lifting off the bay on a late fall morning.
Looking him in the eye, you say, “Get bent, Steve,” and smash the frying pan into the side of his head, sending the contents spraying across the room.
With a happy sigh drowned out by his screams, you turn, pick up your mug of steaming coffee, and go to sit on the porch.
Mountains silhouetted in the sunlight, erupting from the earth in majestic pyramid peaks. They pierced the blue summer sky and parted the clouds, and feral beasts lived in the shadows at their feet. Hooting and screaming, filthy and tangled, these small, gangling beasts ran and loped around the bases of the mountains. Tiny feet kicking up clouds of dust and sending rocks clattering; hands with sandy backs, grime shoved beneath nails; faces freckled and brown by the sun, wide with smiles that exposed Chiclet teeth, bracketed by lines of joy caked with dirt that aged them like miniature geriatric chimpanzees. Laughing and running and kicking and shoving until the sky turned from clear blue to a haze of orange and purple, and the dark forced them to leave the empty subdivision still in construction—their mountain range of gravel and sand.
The silhouette was little more than a shadowy blemish behind the protective shroud of linen. Stained as the sheet was with previous inhabitants of the room, it should have been difficult to see those little things that made her unique, but things that should be are not always so. The rogue curl that grazed the slope of her brow. The stern, sharp edge of her nose. Those elegant hands, tucked together. All bathed in moonlight as the rope creaked and the silhouette gently turned behind the curtain, as feral voices called for more blood.
The timbers were stained black, weathered by years of peat fires filling the house with smoke. hey were the constant, the bones of the house. As children were born and lost, as minds were moulded and shaped, still they remained, unchanging. Hair greyed and skin sagged. Holes were dug and generations lost. Suns rose and set, and still the timbers watched over the family, a constant, silent guardian.
It had been many years since he last looked at the blanket.
Long and kite-shaped, with lace trim and one quilted side – it had been the blanket for his son. He was going to wrap that fragile, new body in the soft wool, cocooning, protective, and warm. He would watch those tiny grasping fingers curl around the corded lace and pull at loose threads; he would watch it get stained with mud and tears, blood and food – with the messes of childhood. He would treasure it long after his son was grown; he would perhaps even swaddle in it a grandson one day.
So many plans. So many ifs.
It had been twenty years. That blanket had never touched his son, and never would.
With a heavy heart, he folded it up and put it away.