Eric Alan Westfall has a new MM Historical Fantasy book out:
A tennis match? Starting a war between the Duchy of Avann and the Kingdom of the Westlands?
Only in a fairy tale.
When Prince Henry hurts a young ball boy who told him Danilo’s ball was inside the line, Danilo’s response is automatic. Punch the prince’s face, pick him up left-handed, and break the royal jaw. Unfortunately, there’s another “automatic” at work: a death sentence for whoever strikes royalty.
King Hiram can’t—won’t—change the rule of law to rule of royal whim. But he grants the Heir of Avann fifteen days to find words that will allow Danilo to live.
In those fifteen days: Magick. The gods, goddesses and gender-fluid deities on Deity Lane. Kilvar, the assassin. A purse which opens in a bank vault. A mysterious old man. The Lady of All. The Magickal Hand writing, rewriting. A fairy tale within a fairy tale. A huge horse called Brute. And at the end...perhaps the right words and a most unexpected love. Plus a deity-supplied dinner with just the right amount of garlic.
All royalties will go to a local LGBT organization.
Eric is giving away two backlist eBook titles to one lucky winner with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:
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From Chapter Three:The Small Throne Room
The King of Westland’s Castle
Late Morning, the Day The Story Starts
“Sit,” King Hiram commanded. The young man, still head-bowed, didn’t move. The guards squeezed the prisoner’s biceps, half-marching, half-dragging to the chair at the opposite end of the table from the king. With four guard hands occupied by flesh or chains, the difficulty in moving the chair was obvious. The wizard’s spell removed the chains; they reappeared with a clunk!on the floor beside the table.
The guard on the young man’s left pressed a dagger-point against his throat. The other guard released him, stepped behind the chair and pulled it enough away for the young man to be maneuvered in front of it. Rough hands on shoulders forced him down. It was, of course, only happenstance the knifepoint nicked the neck, a drop of blood appearing when the blade was removed.
The recent command not to hurt the prisoner apparently didn’t apply to chairs in which the prisoner was sitting. The force used to propel it toward the table would have crushed the young man’s fingers if he’d rested them on the arms when he sat. Fortunately, his hands were in his lap. The young man’s head remained down as he was in effect caged by the chair and table.
He raised his head, looking straight ahead, but Hiram and his advisors could see he wasn’t seeing anything then present in the room.
Beneath the dirt, bruises, scrapes and crusted blood he was handsome. Sharp cheekbones, aquiline nose, thin lips, a faint cleft in his chin. Brilliant green eyes, flecked with gold. Unusual long hair tumbling near his shoulders, red-brown strands mixed with varying shades of gold. There was something almost familiar... The king chased a wisp of memory, but lost it.
The young man tilted his chin up enough to look at the king, apparently believing if cats could, so could he. There was no cringing in those eyes, no shame, no embarrassment. No anger or resentment. Perhaps, though, a tiny glimmer of...interest. As if this was some grand adventure and he needed to absorb everything happening to and around him for later remembrances.
Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be remembering anything again, in the not too distant future. A man doesn’t when his head has been severed from his neck, or he’s been hanged until a neck-snap or slow strangulation ends him. Hiram realized he didn’t remember what death the law required. He would, he knew, have to check.
In silence, the young man lifted his hands, and pushed the long, thick hair behind his ears, each movement telling a story of strain and pain. As did his face. One eye was swollen almost shut; a cut on his forehead still oozed blood; there was dirt on the bruising on cheeks and jaw; one lip was split.
“Did he resist arrest?”
“No, Your Majesty.”
“Did the prince do this?” The king refused to let himself display the tiniest glimmer of hope the answer was “yes.” The hope Henry fought back.
“Did he attempt to flee and have to be captured?”
“He is as the Guards found him on their arrival. I am—”
The young man interrupted with a laugh—a bright, beautiful baritone, filling the room with a joy entirely out of place in the circumstances.
The king’s low and angry voice in turn smashed the laughter. “You think all this is a joke?”
The young man blinked. “No, Your Majesty. I just thought it was funny someone thought I might run away. Only a coward runs, when he knows he’s done no wrong. I did what was right.”
“You struck my son.”
The young man shrugged. “I’ll strike any bully beating a child.”
Someone in the room gasped. The king merely thanked the Thirty-Nine it wasn’t him and pretended he hadn’t heard.
But as Hiram spoke he realized he was defending his son because of a father’s obligation, not from a belief in his innocence. “Prince Henry is my heir. He would never—”
“He did.” Kings do not flabbergast easily. Hiram was rendered so. Rogermight interrupt him in the privacy of the royal chambers, but elsewhere? No one dared. Until the young man.
Who had no idea what he was facing; had no idea of the inevitable outcome of his admission of guilt. Hiram did not need to hear more. The law was clear. The punishment was clear.
Yet if he was compelled to do as the law demanded, he would at least learn the truth first.
“Do you have any witnesses?”
The young man’s response was a scoffing, “Of course. Anyone there will tell you...” His voice faded away. “But they won’t, will they? He’s a prince, I’m a foreigner, and they’ll only tell you what a kingly father wants to hear: his son is as pure and innocent as the drifting...slush would be, in a kingdom where snow is possible.”
The chin-tilt this time was defiant. “So. What’s the penalty in this kingdom for saving a child from a beating which might have left him crippled?”
The young man paled, but didn’t flinch, and when he moved his hands to the table, there was no trembling.
Nor was there any in his voice. It was calm, almost matter-of-fact, and he didn’t avert his eyes from the king’s. “Interesting. I thought to rescue a child and instead I start a war.”
Old Moldy heard a threat and started to bluster. Hiram heard a statement of fact, or what the young man believed was truth. He told Old Moldy “No!” and the Chancellor slumped back in his chair.
“A man admits to a crime in my kingdom, for which the law demands the severest penalty. Why should anyone go to war over just punishment?” Everyone heard the silent question, “Who are you your death would cause a war?”
The young man’s bow—so far as he could in his seating situation—was formal. An objective observer might have called it regal.
“Your Majesty, permit me to introduce myself. I am Danilo ys Daeaen ys Cirill. I am the only grandson of the Duke of Avann.” The young man shrugged. “They call me the Heir of Avann.”
Three Longer-Answer Questions:
Choose a favorite line or short passage from any of your work. What do you like about it?
I’m probably going to answer this question in other interviews, because it’s impossible to pick just one line or short passage from the fifteen books and stories I’ve completed so far. I have a lot of “favorites” across my work, moments where I’m particularly pleased or proud by what I’ve written.
For today, it’s the dedication from A Rollerblade Day, and Other Gay Poems:
and the poems
to the memory of
my first partner
(whose name I can’t give)
Of all the things I have ever done,
of all the things I will ever do,
the crowning achievement of my life is this:
he chose to love me.
The “pleased,” of course, and the “proud” as well, are for the last four lines, because they say what I truthfully believe—no, what I know—about the most important person in my life. He encouraged me so often to try to get my writing published (almost exclusively poetry back then), but I never had the guts to make the effort. It took me until 2013 to publish a book, and even longer to publish the poems.
Thank you, kind sir!
What led you to write in your genre?
If I were to use “gay”—romance or otherwise—as the genre, I’d have to say because I’m a gay man and it’s been an integral part of me and any non-fiction writing for decades. Writing MM books didn’t happen until I got hooked by the Don’t Read in the Closet events of the Goodreads MM Romance Group in 2013. Within the broader MM category, fantasy is the category for eight out of the fifteen books since then.
The next two books, “scheduled” for 2019, are also fantasies/fairy tales: 3 Boars & A Wolf Walk Into a Bar, and The Truth About Them Damn Goats. I’m sure you can tell what the first one is about, and the second is told from the troll’s point of view.
Why fantasy? I’ve been addicted to it since I was five, which is many decades in the past. I’m fairly certain I began with Andrew Lang’s The Blue Fairy Book, one of the collections of fairy tales from around the world he published between roughly 1889 and 1918. While I segued into science fiction, so that my reading over the years in those two areas has been roughly fifty-fifty, fantasy is still my favorite. And that seems to be where most of my ideas happen.
What was the inspiration for Of Princes False and True?
Theft. Pure (impure?), unadulterated theft. When I decided to try to write a gay version of a fairy tale, I couldn’t immediately come up with an idea for any of the “big ones” in the fairy tale circuit. So I turned to Andrew Lang, and picked The Lilac Fairy Book. (Unfortunately, he never published a Lavender Fairy Book, which would have been a much more appropriate color.) I read “The False Prince and the True,” and no sooner was I done, than I had the title of my version, and Mike the Manly Muse was pummeling me to get to the computer and start writing.
Three Short-Answer (One Word, One Sentence) Questions:
Plotter or pantser?
What was the last thing you read?
As of the date of the answer: Doc’s Deputy, Book 4 in Lisa Oliver’s Arrowtown series.
What’s a charity/cause you support?
Heartland Man’s Chorus, heading into its 33rd season this fall.
Eric is a Midwesterner, and as Lady Glenhaven might say, “His first sea voyage was with Noah.” He started reading at five with one of the Andrew Lang books (he thinks it was The Blue Fairy Book) and has been a science fiction/fantasy addict ever since. Most of his writing is in those (MM) genres.
The exceptions are his Another England (alternate history) series: The Rake, The Rogue and the Roué(Regency novel), Mr. Felcher’s Grand Emporium, or, The Adventures of a Pair of Spares in the Fine Art of Gentlemanly Portraiture(Victorian), with no way out(Regency) coming out a month after Of Princes.
Two more fairy tales are in progress: 3 Boars & A Wolf Walk Into A Bar(Eric is sure you can figure this one out), and The Truth About Them Damn Goats(of the gruff variety).
Now all he has to do is find the time to write the incomplete stuff! (The real world can be a real pain!)
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