Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Sea Between The Stars

In a recent post in the Grimdark Fiction Readers & Writers group on Facebook, author Alexander Wallis offered to e-mail to anyone interested in reading a PDF copy of his short story "The Sea Between the Stars". He described it as a prequel story to his book "The Way Knight: A Tale of Revenge and Revolution", saying:

"I wrote the story as a prelude to The Way Knight, exploring the heroine's childhood loneliness and despair. Happy to email a copy to anyone who wants to read something dark and depressing!"

Dark, depressing, and tackling a pretty heavy emotional topic? Sounded interesting. First of all, here's the blurb on The Way Knight, from Goodreads:

"THE WAY KNIGHT is the terrifying tale of a girl’s journey from child, to woman, to goddess. It is a provocative story that will challenge everything you believe.

Daimonia is a wild and impulsive girl, who fears she is unlovable. When corrupt politicians execute her brother, she travels to find her mother — the famous hero who abandoned her years before.

To survive the treacherous journey, she hires the Way Knight — a travelling warrior sworn to protect anyone who pays his fee, no matter how dangerous the journey, or hopeless their cause.

Together they will chance the battle-torn coast, pursued by the champion of the Secret God."

While all of that sounds interesting enough, I was not expecting how powerful this two-page prequel story turned out to be. Dark and depressing turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg. Under the veneer of gothic horror (reinforced with stark, gloomy imagery) pulsates an emotional undercurrent of anger, sadness, rage, and despair. 

These are just a few of the feelings to be found on the emotional palette of a troubled young woman. Wallis writes with honest authenticity, neither patronizing nor glorifying his tragic protagonist.

His writing frame of reference stems from personal experience - as he told me:

"Professionally I help young people who are troubled. Some have learning difficulties or disabilities, whereas others come from families that are very disruptive to normal development. I created the character of Daimonia to explore the experiences of young women with narcissistic mothers."

Not surprisingly, The Sea Between the Stars was a winner in the "Write Across Sussex" short story competition. Below is a small sample; just the opening paragraph.

"The girl haunted the old tower after her mother’s departure. Neither the girl nor her mother was dead but, like a ghost, the child mourned their separation. Each night she drifted from shadow to shadow, pale feet on stone, hair black as the sea between the stars. When the skies were benign, she was the storm that racked the steeple, torrential in her cries. When all the villagers were asleep, she was their nightmare unravelling in the dark."

Due to competition guidelines, I cannot post the story in its entirety here. However, Mr. Wallis has offered to e-mail a copy to anyone interested. You can contact him at thewayknight AT outlook.com or look for him on Facebook, Alexander Wallis.

The Way Knight is available on Amazon.

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