In honor of tomorow's release of Blake Charlton's debut novel Spellwright (reviewed here) he has given us a piece that was excised from the final book as a special treat along with the story of why it just didn't fit into Spellwright's final form. Mr. Charlton also made the selection available in audio format as he is a big proponent of audio performances, especially for his fellow dyslexics out there. Also be sure to stop by his blog where is is making more audio selections available. Enjoy! Oh, and be sure to pick-up Spellwright tomorrow!
It was a wonderful day, but the days that followed were much more crucial. I had the sensation that if I didn’t get the spirit of Spellwright on paper, I’d lose it forever. The next morning, it began to snow hard. So I woke up early and hurried to a coffee shop to find a seat by the window. I sat there for about three hours, watching gothic Trumbull College fill with snow and trying to revive the wonder that fantasy literature had so often evoked in me before I had become a rabid pre-medical undergraduate.
An image came to me then of a nighttime dirt road. A small stone house stood beside it and spilled from its windows and doorway brilliant rectangles of light. A single black silhouette appeared in the doorway, took a few steps toward the road, and then stopped.
That was it. Generic. Innocuous. Overly precious.
But it evoked in my twenty year old mind a powerful emotion. And, somehow, I picked up a pen and wrote a brief scene that created Spellwright’s aesthetic. Even ten years later, they are some of my best “sounding” sentences.
The problem with this passage was that it captured only my desire for lyricism, no story or character. I wrote these sentences for a spirit, not for a novel. Over the years, Spellwright went through many different incarnations. For each, I worked in the following passage, but each time it didn’t quite fit. Both my agent and then editor pointed out that this passage wasn’t really part of the novel I had written. I fought back, but some part of me knew they were right. Spellwright had become the story of Nicodemus Weal, his teachers, and his peers--not the story of the vague person venturing out into the night. One of my mentors and friends, Tad Williams is fond of quoting William Faulkner on situations like this: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings." Remembering that quotation, I saw I was holding this scene too close to my heart.
So on one of the final draft, I rolled up my sleeves, sharpened my backspace key, and deleted the following passage:
Setting out alone on an empty, feral, moonlit road is a feat more daunting than most can ever manage. For in the solitude of the dark, the road beneath your feet stretches out into the night and, mixing with the shadows, takes on a life of its own. The road becomes a serpent, tremendous, moonpale and heavy. And though such a monster lies still upon the land, in the mind it writhes with all the poison and immensity of imagination. The world changes to show its hostility, and worse, its indifference. Wind and shadow put leaf to leaf and form leathery lips that whisper, “This is no place for you. Not anymore. This is a place of deepgreen, dirt, nightblue, and beasts. Go back. Get out of the night. Go back to the fireside.” Something moves behind the trees. Somewhere fangs connect to an empty stomach, and somewhere rages a flood, a fire, or a frost. And the road dragon beneath you goes ever on: a thread of civilization stretching from one town to the next.
But somewhere else a window spills golden-yellow light into the implacable night. Somewhere the clink of plates competes with the voices of men, swords on a mantel shine through dust, and a bed waits.
Safe and comforting though it may be, such domestic spaces are also confining. Each night, weary from the day’s duties, you return to the same few rooms. Each night of your life, you regard the same few walls, framing the same familiar faces of kith and kin, growing older. So when the day’s toil is through, the minds of some turn to wandering.
These dreamers steal to the door while others are preoccupied with food or drink or talk. Lightly leaning against the threshold, they flirt with the idea of walking out into the evening. But the gentle path that splashes down from the door with the reds and oranges of the hearth soon runs into the ever-flowing road. And, after looking down that darkening lane awhile, the dreamers know to shut the door and forget the bluenight, because somewhere down that graveled path--past the elm, through the gate, and beyond the pen of sleeping pigs--is a universe more fantastic and a reality more indifferent. So they snuff their fantasies and turn back into the house, their now smoldering dreams casting only a ghostly smoke into their thoughts.
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REVIEW | Spellwright by Blake Charlton
FREE FICTION | Prologue to Spellwright by Blake Charlton
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