I’m really pleased to be hosting S. A. Garcia today, in honour of her latest release, Canes and Scales, an exciting steampunk fantasy from Dreamspinner Press.
Nightmares are terrible things. I know many people claim they don’t remember their dreams, but I bet everyone remembers their nightmares, especially the dangerous ones.
Nightmares render us helpless. How many times have you tried to break free from a horrible dream but the damned thing just keeps grinding along? Nightmares are the sub consciousness’s toxic waste. No one enjoys them, unless you’re into abuse and torment. Then hey, hope you enjoy those nightmares. For me, waking up sweaty and gasping in fear is not fun. Let’s face it, there are no safe words in nightmares. They don’t stop because you want them to stop!
But imagine if someone deliberately sent you a terrible nightmare, one so soul shattering that you know, unless you wake up, you will die? I know it’s been done before, but I attempted such a scenario in Canes and Scales: The Novel for the first time in my writing career— wait, I can’t say career, because you usually make money at a career— let’s just say writing adventure. I regard writing as a splendid adventure, and on days when I don’t have the time or energy to write, the lack of adventure impacts my mind. That is a true nightmare.
There I go, turning this around to be about me. But wait, I wrote the book— part of this needs to be about me.
Although nightmares play a large role in Canes and Scales: The Novel, the entire book is a dream come true— I always dreamed about expanding my first published novella into a novel. I never expected the story to transform into an epic fantasy! In this sweeping novel, Linden and Alasdaire suffer plenty of trauma, drama, evil elven deathspells, and danger.
They also experience an epic romance, supported by elven dream magic yet challenged dark Elven magic.
Here’s an example of when dark Elves send nightmares into their life. An Elven banespell sends Alasdaire into a deadly nightmare by casting his beloved Mother and his beloved Linden as enemies.
Serpent Prince Linden of Ardaul is determined to drag his barbaric, power-hungry country into the modern age by encouraging learning, advances in the sciences, and tolerance. His insane brother Edward, the King, delights in making him pay for his efforts.
Long years of watching his back, fighting wars, and solving conflicts started by his cruel brother have taken a toll on Linden’s body and mind, and he needs a respite. When Linden meets an alluring young bed slave named Alasdaire, his weary heart responds. Alasdaire is an exotic mix of southern royal Totandian elf and human, and, although he’s also suffered hardship most of his life, his loving personality captivates the Prince.
Despite their differences, Alasdaire, canes—and Linden, scales—unite in body and soul, but their romance is nearly shattered by betrayal. When Linden becomes King, magical assassins, treachery, and threats plague them. They narrowly escape death more than once. The lovers must discover who wants them dead and more importantly, where they can turn for aid. Neither enemies nor allies are what they seem. Only time will tell who means to harm Linden and Alasdaire—the elves, the imprisoned Edward, or something even deadlier—and time is one thing they don’t have.
What a miserable place. Nothing but strange gray shapes surrounded me, gray accompanied by deeper, sinister grays. My body retained color; in fact, too much color met my startled stare. Bright blood seeped from the jagged fang marks rending my chest. My hands had turned black. Flexing my knuckles stabbed pain through my stressed skin. My aching legs barely moved me along a narrow path.
I did not belong in this horrible gray land. I belonged with my Linden.
Wait, Linden’s ugly serpent attack had thrust me into this lifeless domain. His love had faltered in its devotion, the emotion as false as my welcome at the palace of death. Why would a mighty king care about a bastard half-breed whore?
My breathing tightened, straining to push air from my lungs. I needed to focus. How could I think such a terrible thing about my lover? Magic had thrown me into this decayed realm—dangerous magic that tried to make me believe Linden wanted to harm me.
I refuted the lies. My voice cut through the cold mist swirling around me. “Linden loves me. Linden would never do anything to harm me. I need to find him again.”
I blinked in awe. My words forced my hands to assume their normal hue. The deep wounds in my chest had vanished. As I suspected, my negative emotions harmed me. Whoever attacked me sought to drive me to despair.
I refused to succumb. I needed to keep moving, keep seeking Linden. I crept forward. Suddenly a dismal swamp blocked my way on three sides. Noxious gas bubbled up from the dank water. I had no choice but to walk along a narrow path.
A small whitewashed cottage appeared through the tainted mist. The tidy red-tiled roof looked bright in the grayness. I moved closer, wondering what fresh anguish awaited me. Warm light spilled out from the diamond-paned windows. The door stood open, creating a golden rectangle against the grayness. The comforting sight reassured me.
Steps brought me to the open doorway. I gasped with delight. “Mother!”
Mother stood from tending the cheerful fire burning in the brick fireplace. As she smiled with equal delight, she held out her slim hands to me. Her smile looked comforting, soothing, and sweet—all the positive things I remembered about her from when she was alive.
“My precious son. Come, dear Alasdaire, be with me. Only I care about you. Only I love you. You do not belong with the treacherous Serpents. Come to me, Son. I have missed you. Come warm yourself and talk to me. I wish to hold you close.”
My mother spoke the truth to me. I walked forward three steps. I paused before I placed my foot onto the low stone step. Mother’s smile overwhelmed me. She held out her arms to welcome me into the warmth. She looked as beautiful and magical as I remembered her. Her precious smile made me tremble.
Mother stood in the doorway. “Come to me, Alasdaire. Come rest by the fire. My dear son, you look ready to collapse. Come in from the cold.”
Weariness plagued my body. I lifted my right arm up to her. “Mother.”
“Come to me, Son.”
I lifted my right knee up. My right foot hovered, close to stepping up into the cozy cottage.
Wait. Why didn’t her hands reach out to me past the doorframe? A sudden memory of an ancient shrine standing in the moonlight seared through my consciousness. A cool trickle snaked through my confusion. The tempting scene before me shimmered.
Reality roared free. This placed offered me no refuge.
I dropped my foot back to the ground. “Mother, please, come to me.”
Brief annoyance flickered over her lovely face. She beckoned to me. “Son, no, you need to enter to be with me. Come inside. Do you deny love for your mother?”
What painful words. “Never, Mother. I love you well, but I know when evil uses you against me.” I turned my back to her. My heart broke even more.
As I staggered away from the cottage, my mother’s lyrical voice begged me to come to her. “Alasdaire! The Serpent does not love you! Come back to me. Only I love you.”
I shook my head and kept moving away from her.
“No one loves you in your new world. The vile Serpent uses you as his whore.” Mother’s voice hoarsened. “I cannot believe my son would act so weak. You are weak! Only I can make you strong. Come back here! You know the Serpent only uses you. Your love for him betrays the elves!”
Echoes of the city elf’s rant teased me.
I started singing.
The birds sleep in their nests,
Mother knows what is best,
Hush, my little bird, rest,
Keep safe in our fine nest.
I used the simple lullaby to drown out Mother’s angry voice, a lullaby she had used to soothe me to sleep. As I sang, her threats snapped away from my hearing.
Rage filled my mind. How dare this foul magic use my mother against me? Who was doing this to me?
I stumbled forward, trying to avoid the sticky gray foliage twisting across the ground. The strange thick fog tried to halt my progress. The swirls and veils formed an oppressive web. I pushed forward, fearful of what would appear next.
Thanks for reading!
Canes and Scales: The Novel is avaliable at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Are and other outlets. Canes and Scales: The Novel
Who Is S.A. Garcia?
Forty years ago, I started writing gay male romance. Writing about men inserting tab A into slot B didn’t seem the norm for a suburban female teenager. Reading Gordon Merrick, John Rechy, and Larry Kramer helped me fill in the serious informational gaps. Yes, I read those informative books in my bedroom. No wonder.
As the years progressed, I continued writing gay male romance, although the stories progressed from scribbles in notebooks to hiding on the computer. I wrote fantasies, contemporaries, bodice rippers—my muse Diva Faboo refused to let this old lesbian write a F/F romance. Go figure. Someday!
I’m glad I kept the writing faith. I never thought anyone would published my novels. Imagine, my comedy An Elf for All Centuries (formerly from Silver Publishing; now in talks for a new home) was in the running for a few awards. What a thrill!
My life has turned into a fun quandary of too many stories hindered by my slow, two-fingered typing skills. I blunder onward into more trauma, drama, and humor. I just hope I can keep up with sexy men who insist on running off with the plots!
Along with Canes and Scales: the Novel, Dreamspinner is also home to my novellas, assorted short stories, short stand-alones and the M/M romdramedys (romance/ drama comedy) Cupid Knows Best and The Gospel According to Cher.
Love in the Shadows, my first attempt at mixing an M/M historical and contemporary with a touch of the supernatural, is at MLR Press.
You can find out more about me at my blog and website.
Facebook: S.A. Garcia