One year ago today, I started the first draft of Fey Touched. Back then, it was a totally different story, and it took a few tries to get it right. But once I hit that sweet spot, it flowed like nothing else. It was pure joy. Easy. And I loved every single minute of it. (That is, until revisions. Ugh). I still love Fey Touched, and not just because it’s my first published novel. It’s the world, the characters, the things they go through. All of that came out of my mind. Everything. Not only did I finish the first draft, but I revised and edited it within an inch of its life and made it so much better. And now, one year later, it’s published and I am now working on the first draft of book 2, Grave Touched.
So what ever became of that first draft? Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s about 20 pages. I didn’t like the direction it was headed, so I ended up starting over. But just think — without that beginning, without the tentative dipping-my-toes-in of the first draft, I never would have arrived with what is now the final, published version of the book. It all started with that 20-page draft.
So, for nostalgia, I’m going to post the first page. Those of you who have read Fey Touched may not recognize it. It’s that different. Those of you who haven’t, I assure you — it’s even better. ~grin~
Okay, here it is. Draft 1, started on 10.31.11 :
Shadows danced on the cave walls as my Master, a Fey of high nobility, beckoned me forward. Candles bathed the room in a golden glow, which reminded me of the landscape of dreams. Overhead, although we couldn’t see or touch it, the moon blazed like a beacon in the darkness. But I could feel it like a low-level electrical current deep in my bones.
I was one of the Enslaved, so I wore a simple black robe that opened in the back. Easy access to get the priceless commodity that I carried within myself naturally.
My Master, Kieran, was decked out in his formal robes of crimson and gold: gold for the sunlight that kept he and his kind alive; crimson for the blood that inevitably spilled during the feeding. Crimson was also his Clan color, which I always found to be ironic.
Candlelight lit his face, cast it in monstrous shadows. He smiled at me, and his expression warmed. Rumor had it that he thought I was special, which made me happy and anxious at the same time.
His eyes – golden like the sun – met mine and I sucked in a breath. Being the object of his attention felt like being slammed into a brick wall. It hurt, yes, but it also scrambled my senses and made me feel a bit lightheaded.
He beckoned to me again, and I realized that while I’d stood here naval-gazing, the solemn march of time had continued without me.
I smiled and took his hand.
He pulled me close so that we were almost touching. The heat of his body felt pleasant and familiar, inevitable. “Asha,” he murmured in my ear, his breath ticking me. “So introspective today.”
“Yes, Master, I am,” I said softly. No slave ever raised her voice to her Master. I wasn’t even sure I could raise my voice now.
“Share your thoughts with me.” It was a command, iron in his voice.
I wasn’t sure I wanted him to know how I felt in that moment. “I wish you could enjoy the moonlight. It’s so beautiful.” A bit of a lie, but it felt right.
Master Kieran frowned. “I wish I knew what that was like. But there’s no way for me to know, so I refuse to mourn it. It is what it is.”
“Yes, Master,” I said, hanging my head. “Sunlight is just as beautiful, if not more.”
“How I love the sunlight,” Master Kieran said softly. “We’re meant to walk surrounded by its embrace. It is the way of things.”
I always wondered what it would be like to exist for the day, for the sun’s rays to shine down on me and feel me with energy and light. To never walk the night, to never be caressed by moonlight. We humans could, obviously. Some say the Fey were envious of that and the scientists who’d created them were looking for a way to take it all away, make us like them.
I wasn’t sure I believed that.
“Sit,” Master Kieran said, gently lowering me on to a soft, satin-covered pillow. “Have you come to give of yourself?”
It was all ritual, but it soothed me like nothing else. We were bred and raised to serve, to give of ourselves selflessly over and over again. It was a gift. It was the one thing only we could give to our Fey Masters.
I nodded. “I wish to give of myself this day, Master.”
“Very well,” Kieran murmured, pushing my long, raven-black hair out of the way. I took a breath, anticipating.
My hands trembled and my stomach clenched. What I needed would be given to me after the feeding. I had to get through it. Had to give.
Some Masters did this on purpose to keep their Enslaved obedient. I didn’t believe that of Kieran. He was a sensual, very tactile person who reveled in touch, in taste. He wouldn’t hurry it along even if he were starving. A feeding is meant to be savored and enjoyed.
The world swam around me; sounds jumped back and forth through my mind, echoing. And then there was silence.
Candlelight painted the walls with shapes and light. Kieran had electricity here but refused to use it, lost in the old ways. It gave the room a dreamy feel.
Sometimes I pretended that it was just a dream. That I was far away from here, not Enslaved, but free. Blasphemous, I know. But sometimes I wondered what lay on the other side of the cave. And what lay beyond that.
Kieran’s fingers traced shapes on my back, now exposed to him. His touch was gentle, soothing. I let out a hiss of breath and willed myself to relax.
His lips replaced his fingers, so light, so tender. I hugged myself, shivering. I had never known love. I had never known mating. These things were denied to me.
But this – this was nice. I had nothing to compare it to. It felt right.
His tongue swept over the base of my spine. It sent shivers through me, from my head to my toes. For a moment, I couldn’t breathe.
Kieran kissed my neck, nibbling it a bit. The scrape of his teeth sent warmth straight to my core, and my back arched, a moan escaping my throat.
“Are you ready, dearest one?” Kieran whispered in my ear.
And now, an excerpt of the published version:
The woman lay in the cemetery on a bed of snow. Snowflakes clung to her blonde hair and sparkled like diamonds. Slivers of moonlight touched her serene face. Her skin was the blue-tinged skin of the Fey.
After turning up the heat in my coat, I reached out to touch her and immediately recoiled. She was so cold that I’d gotten a taste of frostbite, the cold stinging my fingers. Was she dead?
Pixie, a German Shepherd who was my companion and familiar, nosed around the woman, whining. She was right to lead me here, her thoughts urgent in my head.
She poked the woman with her nose. The woman did not move, did not even twitch. Pixie whined, poking the woman again. There was no rise and fall of her chest. There was nothing.
“What do you think, girl?” I asked.
Pixie gazed at me with eyes that reflected sympathy and intelligence. The thought – Pixie’s – unfurled in my mind.
Not dead. Must save.
My heart thudded. I was Fey Touched, a Hunter of her kind. Technically, she was my enemy. I had the right to kill her on sight. Why didn’t I?
I didn’t like the Fey as a rule. There were Hunters who believed that all Fey were evil and must die. I was open to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, they were wrong. Maybe some of them weren’t evil. That even without mana – a soul – they could be good.
Maybe this Fey woman in front of me, lit by moonlight caressing her face, was one of the good ones.
I sat back on my haunches, my eyes flicking to the headstones as if they could give me an answer. I couldn’t just leave her out here. She needed help.
I gently shook her and her eyelids fluttered, but she did not wake. I pressed two fingertips to her carotid. Slow heartbeat, but there.
“Shit,” I muttered. I took off my coat and wrapped it around her, letting out a hiss as more cold wind hit me in the face.
Pixie danced around the woman, whining and yipping at me.
“Chill, girl. I got this.” I took a breath and unfurled my wings, wrapping them around myself like a coat.
I lifted her and chuckled at how light she was. She wore a poofy green dress that was so out of place for the weather here. Which made me wonder if she’d come from a long distance away.
My need to protect and my calling as a Hunter of Fey warred inside me. It didn’t matter who she was. She was an innocent and she needed help.
I held her close to me as I took to the air. Wouldn’t want her to fall. “Hang on just a little longer,” I whispered. “We’re almost home.”
As I touched down in front of my apartment, Pixie caught up with me, barking and sending frantic thoughts. Warmth – safety – home – warmth –
“We are home, girl. Come on,” I said as I entered the dimly-lit hallway that led to my apartment. I fumbled with the keys and opened the door wide, stepping into the small but cozy living room. I set the Fey down on the couch, then retracted my wings.
Pixie jumped up onto the couch and lay beside the Fey woman.
“Are you hungry, girl?” I asked, watching the dog. I could swear she was smiling at me.
I glanced at the woman again. She didn’t move. I could hardly hear her breathe, and that worried me.
I quickly got Pixie’s dinner together, some kibble and wet food, and headed back into the living room. She let out a low whine as I set the bowl down in front of her and rubbed behind her ears.
As she dove into her meal, I crouched in front of the woman and checked her pulse again. Still slow, still there.
I had no way of reviving her. Should I wait? Should I take her to the hospital? No, that would raise too many questions. If I could help her here, that would be the best thing.
“What do you think, Pixie? Should I try rousing her again? Or are you too busy stuffing your face?”
She glanced up at me, crunching her food, and I could swear she’d arched her brow. She was practically human, this dog.
I shook my head, chuckling. After a crazy day, this was just what I needed.
After about ten minutes, I decided to try to wake the woman up again.
She was Fey. She was immortal – at least theoretically. Still…
This time her eyelids fluttered and I was suddenly looking into the most beautiful shimmering eyes I’d ever seen.
Quite different, huh? It’s pretty amazing how a book can evolve in one year. I am so proud of it, and the work I put into it to make it what it is.
For those interested in reading the first three chapters or purchasing it, check it out at http://www.turtleduckpress.com under Turtleduck Press Works.
And if you read it and enjoy it, spread the word! Leave a short review on Amazon or Goodreads! I would so appreciate that, as every person I touch with my words is a gift.
And Happy Halloween!