Archive for the ‘Inside the Book’ Category

Novel excerpt: The golden lotus and the silver tigers

Excerpt from A Thousand Perfect Things

This title has been released in trade paper. E-book formats available on August 27.

Check out some excerpts from my new novel! I’ve chosen scenes to minimize spoilers while still giving a flavor of the story. Each week I’ll post an excerpt on this blog, then add it to the Excerpts page. This is the third excerpt. You’ll also find this on the Excerpts page, along with previous excerpts.


The Golden Lotus and the Silver Tigers


In the land of Bharata (an altered India) Mahindra, a renunciate and holy man, must convince the Rana of Nanpura to endorse his enterprise to drive the colonials (the Anglics) out of their land. It entails a complicated strategem of bringing Tori Harding to Bharata.


            “Ah, babaji, you know how it pains me to deny you.”

The Rana of Nanpura stood in his royal quarters as his servant, standing on a drum, wound his turban.

Mahindra bowed in a show of submission. In his heart, though, desire raged. For the first time in many years Mahindra wanted something. It was an intimate, startling thing, one that would not lie still.

Even dressed in simple attire for his hunt today, Prince Uttam looked every inch a ruler. He was a big man, broad-chested, with a manly belly filling out the achkan that extended to his knees. In contrast, Mahindra had but half of his prince’s weight, as befitted a sadhu who had long ago tasted his last jellabies. Though the two men had been raised together in the palace and had been friends from boyhood, their paths had always been different: Uttam raised to rule, and Mahindra, the son of a chamberlain, destined to study.

Escorted by more servants, they walked to the courtyard where the hunting party awaited. Mahindra murmured, “My prince, does not this flower portend the favor of the gods?”

They must be careful not to mention within the servants’ hearing which flower, lest rumors take hold that the holy golden lotus had been sighted. Religious fervor over the lotus would fit well into Mahindra’s plans, but not yet. Of course, Uttam had been told of the holy flower’s likely tangible existence. But now his first reaction of amazement had cooled to doubt and perhaps fear. Read More…

Novel excerpt: Knives in the orchard

Excerpts from A Thousand Perfect Things

This title has been released in trade paper. E-book formats available on August 27.

Check out some excerpts from my new novel, A Thousand Perfect Things! I’ve  chosen scenes that will minimize spoilers while still giving a flavor of the story. Each week I’ll post an excerpt on this blog, then add it to the Excerpts page. This is the second excerpt. You will also find this on the Excerpts page, along with previous excerpts.


Excerpt #2

Knives in the Orchard

Tori Harding, an 18 year old Victorian woman living at Glyndehill Manor in Shropshire, is an avid student of natural history, having been trained since childhood by her famous botanist grandfather, Sir Charles. Tonight, he is missing from his study, a concern because he has episodes of dementia. Tori must find him in the dark, with a threatening storm underway.


With Anna gone, Tori went out by the front door of the greenhouse and entered the pruned-back perennial garden, pulling her cape close against gusts of wind. Piano music trickled out from the parlor. Light poured through the windows of the great house faintly highlighting the sycamore trees. Empty.

She hurried past the gardener’s cottage–dark since he and his wife were on spring holiday–and on to the stables. In her rush, she produced a rolling gait that she had grown quite accustomed to. A few drops of rain needled in on the wind. Her grandpapa could be anywhere, and it was very cold, even for February.

With the great house now far enough behind to prevent hearing, Tori called for her grandfather, receiving no answer. He could be anywhere, but surely he had not gone so far. She should sneak back and take the rear stairs lest anyone think she had run recklessly outdoors in the conviction that Sir Charles had begun wandering. He was surely in his room now. However, just then she spied a gleam in the distance–a lantern–perhaps in the apple orchard. Read More…

Character sketch: Elizabeth Platt

Platt, E large

Mrs. Lily Langtree, a painting by George Frederic Watts. This is a younger version of Elizabeth Platt, as I imagine her.

The teacher.

41 years old, Elizabeth Platt is a veteran of Anglic public schools and a fierce partisan of universal education. She joins the caravan crossing the Great Bridge to the mystical continent of Bharata, fearlessly protecting her beloved wagon of books and taking the side of Tori Harding as she attempts to break with convention and pursue her magical quest. She swears she will never marry but is happy to take lovers, a shocking concept to Tori as is her habit of using a “tincture” of zinc sulfate. “One rinse and there will be no conception!”

On her sojourn Elizabeth will face off with kraken, monster birds and a bloody insurgency–but nothing can compare to the horror of her own actions in one unalterable moment. Read More…

Character sketch: Mahindra

elephant close upIn Bharata, an altered India, Mahindra is a practitioner of magic, a patriot and advisor to the Rana of Nanpura.

In his youth he studied Anglic in the colonial schools, but became disillusioned. Years ago he fought in a failed insurgency against Anglica, paying a terrible price. But now the time to reclaim Bharata may be at hand.  With the recent completion of the Great Bridge over the Ancific Ocean, Mahindra foresees Bharata’s total cultural and economic ruin. Though he has lived the life of a renunciate, he now considers leaving his contemplative life to take an active role in a new movement of Bharata unity. As a shape-shifter, he is uniquely suited to terrorize and inspire.

With the rumored sighting of a legendary flower, the golden lotus, he believes a sign has come that Bharata and its princely states should unite under one banner. Mahindra has great powers at his disposal. He has sent a warning in the shape of a giant cobra to Londinium, where it creates havoc on the Thames. In retaliation, Anglica sends a military force across the Bridge.

The clash of cultures and arms that ensues is complicated by Mahindra’s meeting Tori Harding, a young Victorian woman on her own mission of independence. They will both be forever altered by their meeting.


My latest novel, A Thousand Perfect Things, comes out August 27 in print and e-book.  This is the third in a series of  posts on character sketches from my notebook. No matter how dramatic the plot, stories are always about people first, and their relationships to each other. #SFWAauthors

Character sketch: Captain Muir-Smith

Edmond Muir-Smith

Other characters: Tori Harding (major character), Jessa Harding, her sister, Sir Charles Littlewood, her grandfather, Col. Terrence Harding, her father.

british armyCaptain Edmond Muir-Smith has served in the army with Tori Harding’s father, and is recently back from a campaign in Bharata–that mystical continent of magical powers. His visit to the Harding household is greeted as a courtship opportunity for Jessa Harding, the youngest daughter. But Edmond takes an interest in Tori instead, finding that they share a fascination with natural science, the theories of Darwin and the scientific approach. Tori is thrown into confusion by his attentions. She has learned to suppress her longings for a love relationship; hers is a future in science (if the strictures of Victorian society will permit it.) Read More…