donderdag 2 januari 2014

Book Excerpt from Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales

I'm hosting an excerpt today from fantasy novel "Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales". Enjoy reading!

Book Excerpt

Jacob lands with a loud splash in the deep muck of a large pond in front of a larger grassy knoll. He bubbles an “ooof” under the surface, then stands, spitting water and mud.
Partway up the knoll is a cave. The pond is shallow enough to stand in but deep enough to completely immerse Jacob when he fell. He wades through the brown silt to the bank, sputtering and wiping his face and eyes. He sits on the knoll and takes off his left shoe, dumping out some of the sticky pond muck. He begins to remove the right as well, stops, looks up, and sighs. “Why am I doing this?” he asks himself. With a wave, he is in a set of freshly laundered and pressed clothes.
“Ah, my benefactor cometh.” A low voice echoes from the cave. It is followed by the rumbling, scraping sound of something being dragged along the cave walls.
Jacob turns around just as the head of a giant worm emerges from the cave entrance.
The worm squeezes about fifteen yards of itself out of the hole, filling much of the shore. The movement pushes the smell of dank earth before it. There is no way to tell how much more of it remains concealed. Its head is massive, at least five or six yards wide, all mouth and teeth. In place of eyes, two long, hairless, prehensile antennae wave about constantly as it speaks.
Jacob recovers quickly from the initial shock of seeing the creature. Coughing shallowly at the unfamiliar smell, he tilts his head, questioning. “Benefactor?”
The worm leans forward and touches an antenna lightly to several parts of Jacob’s face, then draws back. “Ah. I see I am mistaken. You are not him.”
Jacob rubs his face where he’s been touched. “You mean Palmer, then.”
“As you say.” A small bird flies from a tree toward the pool’s edge. It never makes it, though, as the worm quickly elongates itself and neatly plucks the bird out of the air with its mouth. Swallowing, it slowly recedes to its former length.
“Tasty,” it says, “but not as sweet as they claimed revenge would be.” Jacob raises an eyebrow and says nothing.
“Don’t worry,” the worm says, retracting. “It wasn’t real. With respect to birds, I just enjoy having the shoe on the other foot, though I don’t need the former, since I don’t have the latter.”
Jacob says nothing but studies the huge creature curiously.
“Might we be introduced?” the worm asks, picking a feather from between two teeth with its left antenna. “I do realize the absolute bore of formality, but when the introduction is to the first sentient creature one ever meets. . .”
Jacob clears his throat. “Um, certainly. My name is Jacob,” he says, standing and making a slight bow.
“Jacob.” The worm nods. “Fine.” He raises up a few feet. “You may call me The Worm. Or just Worm, as you like. Either will suffice.”
“As you wish,” Jacob says, nodding.
Worm curls its exposed part into an S shape. “Tell me: Do you like my little retirement community?” “Your. . .” Jacob looks around and back at the stream. He nods. “Yes. It’s a charming spot, er, Worm.”

The Book

Title: Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales
Author: A.C. Birdsong
Genre: Fantasy
On a small farm just outside of a tiny town lives Jacob, the last in a long line of Caretakers of Magic. His mission in life as the world’s only magician (in fact the only person who knows magic is possible) is to preserve magical skill in preparation for the day when magic is needed in the world. Other than what is required to train an apprentice, Caretakers aren’t to be practitioners, a tenet Jacob adheres to religiously.
Jacob has been teaching an apprentice, Palmer, for eight years. As a student, Palmer is a dismal failure, but this does not stop him from experimenting. Feeling that the pace of his instruction is unnecessarily slow, Palmer takes the little magic he knows, twists it, and uses it to trap Jacob and a young neighbor Lucy inside an old book of fairy tales (The Tall, Thick Book of Tales). Palmer refuses to release them unless Jacob imparts all magical knowledge to him in an instantaneous way.
From the moment of Jacob’s entrapment, Birdsong creates three interwoven storylines: Palmer’s dealings with the townspeople, who are searching for Lucy and quickly suspect Palmer for her disappearance; Jacob’s journey to escape, which takes him through scenes written into the book by Palmer, designed to harass Jacob and to speed his compliance along; and Lucy’s interaction with the book’s original characters, all magical themselves, trapped within the margins by Palmer’s spell, and are united in their desire to expel the intruders. Added to this mix are an enchanted bookworm and the fairy tales’ narrator, who have objectives of their own.
Readers will enjoy Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales. Birdsong skillfully mixes the real and the imaginary worlds with a lean and fast-paced style. A well-crafted and fun novel with colorful characters and great dialogue written for any fan of adult fiction, and suitable for young adults and older adolescents as well.

Author Bio

A.C. Birdsong wrote the first draft of Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales during an unseasonably cold winter in Athens, Greece. “I spent all my time either writing the story or searching for a reasonably warm and cheap place to write it. Often this left me huddled near tepid steam heaters in dingy hotel rooms, and drinking endless cups of weak Nes to fight the cold. Eventually the weather turned, which was not only fortunate for me, but for Jacob and Palmer as well, because they probably would still be fighting it out inside that book otherwise.”
A.C. lives in Seattle, where people voluntarily allow themselves to be trapped in books on a regular basis. This is his first novel.


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