Monday, November 26, 2018

Saucy Cranberries 4: THE DEFENDER AND THE THIEF, Adult Japan-Inspired Fantasy OV

Genre: Adult Japan-inspired fantasy + #ownvoices LGBTQA
Word Count: 116,000

How Did You Fall For Writing: When I was 5, my kindergarten teacher accused me of lying about writing a story I brought for Show & Tell; I remember shock, hurt, betrayal, then thinking: I’ll show you! I brainstormed a new adventure for myself and never looked back. My writing inspiration stems from a single question: What story do I want to read? If I don’t find one right away, I know it’s my job to write it. I can’t be the only one who wants to read it.


Dear Fall Fest Agents,

Once a palace Defender, Benka strove to become personal guard to the Imperial family. Sudden exile on false charges of treason changed all that. Benka vows to prove her innocence, but months of obsessive searching turn up nothing but proof of the gods’ sense of humour. But when Benka sets a castle on fire in her efforts to save a pickpocket from execution, she earns a new friend in Ansi, a one-handed thief with a weakness for pretty girls and an allergy to feelings.

Ansi’s life of crime provides unorthodox inspiration for how to sniff out a conspiracy, and Benka is desperate enough to try it. Soon, however, a priest from the Imperial palace approaches Benka with a request: find and return the Emperor’s exiled daughter to the Imperial City. Struck by parallels to her own banishment, Benka agrees, even as it delays her personal mission. Ansi tags along – not for the princess, but to make sure Benka doesn’t do something stupid like refuse any reward for a noble cause. 

Their mission is complicated when they learn the Imperial family sacrifices innocent civilians. The gods require blood to maintain the divine covenant affording the family its protection and near-immortality. Only the princess, exiled for refusing to take part, can break the contract, but she’ll need help. If they fail, innocent people die. If they succeed, the sacrifices will stop – but the Imperial family will lose the gods’ protection. This time, Benka really will be a traitor to the throne, and bring Ansi down with her. Benka must weigh a lifetime of duty against her conscience. But how do they argue with the gods? 
THE DEFENDER AND THE THIEF is set in a fictional world inspired by the rich history, legends, and religions of Japan. From 2009-2014, I lived in Japan’s Kansai region, the historical seat of Imperial power and intrigue. There I immersed myself in the culture, landscape, and local dishes. I used my experiences in Japan and degree in East Asian Studies to bring depth and colour to my world. The novel’s diverse representations of gender, sexuality, and relationships also reflect my own experiences as a queer woman. 

First 250 Words: 

If Benka had known that exile would saddle her with such irritating companions, she might have thought twice before rejecting honourable suicide. The rising screams of the cicadas drilled into Benka’s skull, but did little to drown out the merchant’s unending prattle as she escorted him along the Imperial Road to Bright Stone City. The summer sun beat down upon her armour, and dust eddied around Benka’s worn sandals. A pebble lodged between her toes.

“Are all Blades this pleasant to talk to, or did I get lucky?” the merchant drawled, rolling around a mouthful of pine sap. “Or maybe you lost your tongue when you lost your favour, hey?” 

Benka exhaled through her nose and prayed to the gods for patience. Not long ago she had been Hata Benka, Defender of the Divine, sworn in service to the Imperial family. Now she wore the mark of a broken Blade, cast out for disloyalty and forced to wield her swords for coin like a common brigand. “What kind of conversation are you hoping for, honoured companion?” 

The merchant’s eyes narrowed. Benka had used the proper honorific, but perhaps not succeeded with her tone. She schooled her expression to neutral. “Tell me a story,” he said, then added, “most honoured companion.” 

“I’m a poor storyteller.” 

The merchant pressed on. “I’ve sold my share of blades to bored scholars and rich lordlings, you know.” Benka, who’d trained for a decade to earn the right to wear her swords, swallowed a hot retort.

1 comment:

  1. Time to harvest this crop! I’d like to see this. Please paste your query in the body of the email and attach the first fifty pages as a docx. Put your title and Fall Fiction Fest in the subject line and send to: querylynnette (at) theseymouragency (dot) com. #ExcitedToRead