Friday, 14 January 2011

FROSTFIRE TEASER

Happy Friday, guys! Here, as promised, is a FrostFire teaser, offered with the usual proviso - the manuscript isn't edited yet, and any scenes you read here are subject to changes both minor and major, or even total deletion.

Text under the cut:

    “Listen, dog,” she began, as Stela ran back to her again, “If this is some joke of yours...” 
    Stela wagged her tail, plunging forward as the trees opened up to reveal a pool of deep green water, rippling and glinting in the sun. The pool was fed by a thin waterfall that splashed down a rocky cliff-face. Vivid green saplings and ferns sprouted from the rocks. A dry crescent of smooth river pebbles edged the pool.
    Frost was about to begin praising Stela when she saw the man. His back was to Frost, and he was, not surprisingly, naked, wading out of the water to a pile of clothes carefully folded up on the dry pebbles. Heavy muscles clenched and shifted smoothly under warm brown skin as he pulled himself up onto the shore and began to dry off.
    Frost had seen naked men before. Uskaand was a land of icy rivers and hot springs, and it was common for men and woman to swim together. People covered themselves with drying cloths when they got out of the water, but the springs themselves were usually clear and hid nothing. No one was overly concerned about nudity. Her first instinct was simply to look away politely until the man had finished dressing himself.
    But she didn’t.
    The man’s back, shoulders and buttocks were a mess of scars. Long, curved scars from a whip. Thick uneven scars that looked like burns. Thin silvery scars that must have come from something with a cutting edge. The wounds were long healed, but some were still livid while others had almost faded. Frost realised she was looking at the result of months – years – of abuse. The man pulled on his breeches and shirt, concealing the marks, but Frost could still see them in her mind. Her stomach turned over. She couldn’t imagine how anyone could endure so much pain.
    She began to back away into the trees, carefully, quietly. This man, who took such care to bathe in a private place, must never know that he had been seen.
    Stela barked, the sound ringing out clearly above the noise of the waterfall. Shirt still unfastened, the man turned. He was smiling, and the look transformed him so completely that for a moment she barely recognised him.
    It was Arian.
    She tried to wipe the pity and horror off her face, but she had never been good at hiding her feelings, especially not when she was upset. They stared at each other, unmoving.
    Then Arian swore, low and vicious. He lunged forward across the pebbled shore and seized Frost’s arm, fingers biting into her flesh like iron. Despite the fact that she was a good inch taller than him, he managed to shake her, almost wrenching her from her feet.
    “You followed my dog so you could laugh and gawk at me? Get an eyeful, did you? Now I suppose you’ll run back and tell everyone?”
    “I wouldn’t! And besides I don’t know anyone to tell – ” she babbled, her bundled up things dropping to the ground again as she struggled to keep her balance on the shifting river stones. “It was a coincidence!”
    He swore again, this time calling her a name so vile that she gasped. Pity and guilt vanished. Her teeth ground together and her hands curled into fists. It had been so long since she really lost her temper that she almost didn’t recognise the feeling.
    “Let go!” She brought her closed fist down on his wrist. He released her with a grunt of pain, and she used both hands to shove him back. “You’re a bully! How dare I what? How was I supposed to know you’d be here? Does this place belong to you? Well? Does it?”
    "You followed Stela here! You must have known she would lead you to me –”
    “Why?” Frost interrupted. “I don’t care about you. I don’t even know you. Why would I waste my time plotting to spy on you?” She reached out to poke him in the centre of his bare chest. “You’re not the only one in the world with scars. I’m sorry I saw them, and I’m sorry I intruded on you, but if this is the way you react whenever you get caught off guard it’s no wonder everyone in camp hates you!”
    His face went ashen with rage. “Go!” He bellowed. “Get out of here before I do something you’ll regret!”
    “I’m not leaving!” she bellowed back, stamping her booted foot and sending tiny rocks flying everywhere. “You go! All I wanted was a bath, and you’ve already finished. Go away and take your damn interfering dog with you!”
    Stela whined softly, and Frost realised the dog was still beside her. Frost patted her head with a sigh.
    “Sorry girl,” she said, as Stela licked her fingers. “But your master is an ass.”
    “Stela!” Arian barked out. “Come!”
    The dog gave Frost’s fingers one more lick, then went to Arian, who pointed at the ground sternly. The dog sat with a sigh that was the mirror of Frost’s.
    “Listen carefully,” Arian said, making what seemed like a painful effort to keep his voice even. “I want you to pick up your things now and leave. Go back to camp. Don’t come here again. Don’t come near me.”
    “You’ve no right to give me orders. I came here to wash and I’m going to.”
    She began to strip, unlacing her leather jerkin and pulling it over her head to drop on the pebbles, then beginning on the fastenings of her grubby shirt.
    Arian averted his gaze hastily. “Holy Mother, don’t you have any decency?”
    “Plenty, but it’s a little hard to bathe with your clothes on,” Frost said, working on the ties at her wrists. “Besides, the only woman you have eyes for is Luca.”
    Arian’s eyes flew up to meet hers. Frost flinched from that stricken look, the last of her indignant rage draining away. Without a word he walked off, forging straight into the trees. Stela woofed softly and went after him, tail between her legs.
    “Arian! I’m sorry!” Frost called out. He did not pause, or look back. Within a second he had vanished, and Frost was left alone. Just what she had wanted. Only the pleasure was spoiled now. 
    When will I learn to keep my big mouth closed?


Well, guys? What do you think?

25 comments:

Alex Mullarky said...

Very glad I added you on Facebook since I get updated about your blog so quickly! Especially since I'm always on Facebook rather than Blogspot. Your imagination really amazes me, and your writing is one of few that genuinely inspires me to write myself, especially fantasy. I can't wait to read FrostFire!

Megha said...

Oh. My. Gosh. Zoe, that's amazing! I love it. I thought Stela is spelled Stella, but it's fine.

Anyway, it's superb. I love every part of it. I'm going to save it on Word and in my folder. Please post more teasers!!!

Zoë Marriott said...

Alex: Thanks - what a great compliment!

Megha: Stela here is spelled in the Romanian way, with only one 'l'. I like to use real names where I can, rather than making them up. I think it adds an extra layer of meaning. Stela means 'star' which is rather nice, I think.

Isabel said...

Zoë: EEEEP!!!! By the end of the teaser I was so hyper I was practically giggling (yes, I do that a lot). Your writing was such a surprise—you've definitely improved considerably since DotF and TSK. (Which came first? DotF?) Wow. I love your writing style—you say what you want to say in as few words as possible, but you couldn't run you're message home better. I love, love, love writers who can do that: it's really what I strive for in my own writing. I actually read over the part where Frost says that the only woman he has his eyes on was Luca. (I have a cousin in Brazil named Luca - a boy, though.) Perfect wording. Such a vivid picture. Alex couldn't be more correct—you're writing really inspires me.

I always used to try to make up my own names for minor characters in stories, but my main characters used to always be normal names like Anita or Tatiana. I guess I just thought I couldn't make anything up that was good enough for my main character. In my current book, however, that has changed. I made up a name for my main character as well as all the other characters (so far!) except for one (the super interesting character I mentioned earlier. I plan to name a very major character yet to by introduced Alexandra. I love, love, love that name.) I was going to give away some of my names, but recently decided against it. Anyway, bottom line is THANK YOU ZOE I LOVED THE TEASER I CAN'T WAAAAAAAAIT TO READ FROSTFIRE AND YOUR WRITING IS AWESOME IT REALLY INSPIRES ME!!!! So now I'll stop rambling on and on aimlessly. I can't wait till Monday's post. (Yay, no school: Martin Luther King Day!) Now I'm off to read Megha's blog. (You'd better have posted, peeps!)

Isabel said...

Oh, yes! And you're writing in third person! That's new! =D

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks, Isabel. I hope I've improved - remember that I wrote TSK when I was between twenty and twenty-one, and DotF when I was twenty-one and twenty-two. I'm twenty-eight now. That's a big difference in experience and maturity.

I decided to try and write in third person for FrostFire because although Frost is the character from whose point of view the story is told, I actually think of Luca and Arian as main characters too. Third person seemed a better way to show that.

Megha said...

I love this sooo much. I wish I could write like you, Zoe!

Isabel said...

Megha: Someday you will, Megha. We both will, if we continue to read and write and realize our dreams.

Zoë: I'm glad you're doing something new—I can't wait to read SOTM and FF. Twenty-one and twenty-two are very young ages to be a published author, Zoë. It’s a big achievement. What were you doing in that time in between writing DotF and SHADOWS ON THE MOON?

Zoë Marriott said...

Practise, and you will"

Zoë Marriott said...

Isabel: I wasn't actually published until I was twenty four! I got the TSK publishing contract in early 2005, but Walker Books couldn't find space to publish TSK until early 2007.

I turned twenty-five later on in 2007. At the time I was working on re-writing my very first book, BLOOD MAGIC, into a new book called BAREFOOT ON THE WIND. But when I finished it, my editor didn't want it (a nasty shock for me). So then I started work on the Giant Killer Clockwork Praying Mantis Death Robot Book, which my editor loved (that was 2008). Unfortunately, half way through that, my editor left and then his boss got a look at what I was working on and asked me if I would put it aside for a while, as they didn't feel it was right for my third book (a bit dark and gritty). So then I started work on Shadows, and that took me eighteen months (between the ages of twenty-six and twenty-seven). And I turned twenty-eight this year, while working on FF.

It just goes to show that time really does fly, even if you're NOT having fun.

Isabel said...

Wow. What perseverance that must have taken! I'm glad it all worked out in the end. :)

Megha said...

Awhhh... Just the title (Barefoot on the Wind) makes me wanna read it.

Zoë Marriott said...

The title was the best thing about it, I'm afraid!

Megha said...

So... it wasn't that good?

Zoë Marriott said...

I thought it was at the time, but if it had been then of course my editor would have supported it. I guess, in hindsight, that trying to go back and fix an old story instead of moving forward and writing new ones wasn't a good idea. It's just hard to let go sometimes.

Megha said...

I know what you mean; I had to do that to my first story. But I really don't like it now. For my age at that time, it was amazing.

bfree15 said...

Just wanted to say loved the teaser Zoe it was great.
Did anybody else find Arian rather appealing after reading it?
Zoe have you ever had a crush on one of your characters or would that feel weird?

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks, bfree. And yes - I must admit that I have crushes on ALL my love interest characters, even the ones I don't think I'd be attracted to in real life. I can see into their souls, so if I can't fall a little in love with them, how can I expect my POV character to?

Emma said...

I've been waiting since Friday to get on a working computer to tell you how much I enjoyed this. In fact I was really sad when it ended and I realised how long I'd have to wait to read more!
I agree with bfree, Arian is attractively intriguing! It's quite scary how I get crushes on book characters a lot more than movie stars etc.
Anyhoo, I digress ... basically, I loved it! x

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks, Emma! I'm glad everyone likes Arian - he's a bit prickly on the surface. Mind you, I bet the fact that he was stripped naked didn't hurt.

Isabel said...

*Bursts out laughing* Umm, *ahem* yes, I agree about Arian. But it wasn't because of that! Really!

Zoë Marriott said...

Yes, you just keep telling yourself that.

Isabel said...

Oh, be quiet! Maybe it was *partly* because of that, but I never even thought about it until you mentioned it!

Emma: Same. I mean, Eminem and Li'l Wayne are great, but they're both *highly* unattractive. Especially Li'l Wayne. What a creepo.
Nattasha, do you have a crush on Kartik, from A Great and Terrible Beauty? I do. Big time.

Christina T said...

Oh, wow! Fantastic teasers. I want to know more about Arian. Stela is pretty gutsy. I can't wait to read this! Thank you so much for sharing teasers.

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks, Christina. I'll have to do another teaser next month, everyone seems to like them so much.

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