Excerpt from beginning of The Dark Citadel…
Shrill voices shattered the orderly silence as the pupils from Providence Central Institute for Girls made their way home from school. As they approached the corner of a narrow, dusty street, a tall figure broke away from the group and turned aside with a determined stride. The other schoolgirls bunched together at the corner to watch her go, then carried on up the main thoroughfare, their shapeless garments fluttering.
“My name is Deborah, not Serpentspawn, you foul-mouthed bunch of bitches!” the girl shouted over her shoulder after her departing classmates. “You think I care what your cretins of parents say about me?”
“Serpentspawn!” The catcall, followed by a burst of nervous giggling, wafted faintly back to her.
“You think I care that you all asked that I be moved to another class?” she whispered. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes glittered. A grey-robed man hurrying by on the opposite pavement caught her eye and clicked his tongue in disapproval. The girl held her head high and glared at him, the budding tears drying as hurt gave way to anger. With a defiant gesture she wrenched off the hated headscarf and shook her hair free.
“Get yourself home, little trollop,” the man gasped in indignation.
“If you don’t like what you see, don’t look,” the girl spat at him and, hitching up her flapping robes, ran towards the unlit end of the street.
She ran, her hair streaming behind, feet clattering loudly, defying the silent watchers from dark windows. No voice snapped at her, no window opened to let fly insults. If they had, the tears would surely have come. It was too much to bear. First there had been the humiliation of the snide comments from the sewing matron about how she probably got her sewing skills from her father. Then those bitches had taunted her with their moronic jokes about how many sacks her imprisoned father had sewn that afternoon. Was it her fault if they were all too stupid to see that their own fathers were just pig ignorant brutes? The pious temple creeper insulting her like that had been the last straw.
Get yourself home, he said. The girl shot a glance full of loathing up and down the shabby street. Home!
Dust clouds rolled up over the crystal dome, and the light dimmed further. The dark end of the street, where the girl lived, seemed unusually menacing in the gathering gloom. The sound of her running feet was suddenly too loud, too lonely. She stopped.
A scream rang out, a harsh, evil cry from the depths of the cloud. She clutched the headscarf, wanting to hide in its folds but refusing to show her fear, and cast about, searching for the source of the cry. Standing firmly in the middle of the street, with clenched fists, hair loose and wild, she raised her eyes to the unseen crystal dome, defying whatever was hiding in the murk to show itself. The cry came again, harsher, strident, and the girl, with a last angry glare at the blanket of cloud, ran for the shelter of a tenement doorway.
“Ali has very kindly invited me to her blog to bend your collective ear about my books,” says author of The Green Woman Trilogy, Jane Dougherty. “We have similar influences, Ali and I, both steeped in the magic of Irish legend and history. Culture is like a genetic marker; it finds its way into our writing, inviting itself in even when it wasn’t asked.
“This August, I published the third volume of my Green Woman trilogy, a fantasy series aimed at mature young adults and old adults who like a good yarn with mythical heroes and villains. It’s a story I started years ago for my own kids, only one of whom was old enough to be considered young adult at the time. The goal posts have moved since then, and almost every kid out of nappies is considered YA. My definition hasn’t though; you need a certain maturity to enjoy my books. The story isn’t a high school romp and the issues go beyond boyfriends and nail varnish. In fact neither of those things exist in Providence; the Elders wouldn’t allow it.
“The world of The Green Woman is post-apocalyptic, a survivor city beneath a hermetic dome, run by priests and a brutal police force. Women are vessels, to be filled and emptied. Nothing more. To stamp on any objections, there are the Black Boys, a brutish militia, and the sinister Pure Ones, secret police who call at midnight.
“But things are about to change. The nuclear desert Outside is greening, unrest is stirring within Providence, and the Green Woman is giving life to memories of the world as it ought to have been. The Dark Citadel is the story of Deborah, the Green Woman’s daughter, and her escape from the nightmare of Providence to track down her mother. But there’s a bigger picture, a hellish, metaphysical picture. The man-made evils of war and the Elders’ brutal repression have opened the gates of Hell. The old bogeymen are on the loose, those of popular imagination. But this time they mean to claim their rightful inheritance—the earth.
“The Green Woman is the force that will redress the balance, and Deborah is the next in line to carry the burden. Thank goodness she meets a force of nature to stand by her when things get tough—Jonah.
“In this story, I wanted to get across the idea that totalitarianism—political and religious—brutality, misogyny, ignorance are not just the fault of ‘society’ or ‘the devil’, they are found in the actions of ordinary human beings too. We all, no matter how young or old, have to stand up and defy what we know to be wrong. The Green Woman could be called eco-fantasy, utopian or dystopian fantasy, allegorical, or metaphysical (if you’re into Amazon categories). Whatever it’s called, it has a message that I hope will uplift and sweep readers away.
“Thank you, Ali, for letting me loose on your blog to spout about myself and my creations. Below are the links to my Amazon author pages where you can find links to the books in The Green Woman series. There are also several short stories that give an introduction to her world. I should point out that as the story unfolds, the tangential stories have become more adult. No, not dirty, just about grown-ups.”
Thanks, Jane, for dropping by Aliisaacstoryteller, I am delighted to feature your writing on this week’s Friday Fiction!
If you are an independent author, and would like to see your writing appear on the Friday Fiction, please do contact me here. Have a great weekend, everyone, and happy reading!