Dear Olivia,

It was about time I contacted you. We’ve been colleagues for, how long now? A year? Is ‘colleagues’ even the right word? Maybe you can answer that question because you call yourself a writer, but that doesn’t matter right now.

You need to get your act together and finish your pathetic excuse of a manuscript.

You’ve re-written it that many times I’ve lost count of all the interests and personalities I’ve had. I’ve been a two-dimensional miner with little-to-no depth, a book-loving miner with brothers that I cared for—more than most sisters are willing to admit—and I’ve been the special girl with bat wings and the ability to manipulate shadows with a simple thought.

Then you took it away and stripped me down to nothing. No magic, no pizzazz—nothing. Living and breathing in that new world, where silver is cherished and gold is useless, can be infuriating. You’ve made me one of the top female assassins and I wonder why that is.

Is it because of those other young adult heroines I’m meant to take after? The chosen one with a destiny full of power, a touch of romance and a dramatic adventure? It’s easy for you to create characters that are copies of another. Take it from someone who’s been there—being a replica is boring, tiresome. Instead of pushing your boundaries you fall back into your comfort zone.

And you need to get out.

Break it. Shoot at it. Read more, write more. Even try plotting or doing whatever it is fantasy writers do. Force the words out if you must. Don’t do what others before you have accomplished—you will never be like them. Find the creativity you lost and work through it.

Without you, I don’t exist. I’d rather live in a world of overused clichés then not exist at all. Finish the draft by that festive holiday at the end of the year. Have it edited and ready for submissions by the day of romance in February. Submit and be done with it for a while.

Then see your name in silver letters on the book spine at your local bookshop—perhaps there’s a picture of me on the cover as well. You celebrate and drink too much wine on my behalf. Then you start the process again, maybe with another book starring yours truly. Regardless of what you do after this, you did it.

You wrote our story and got it published.

But this won’t happen if you screw me over again. Do that and I’ll blow you a kiss then shoot you in the back.

See you soon darling,

Elain

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Steam whistles. The door buzzes open and Adam steps down from a ladder.

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one does not just ‘step down from a ladder’ they ‘climb’Read More »

But a greater part of him craved that look, yearned for it the way a flower strained for the sun. But if he were a flower, he would no doubt be poison. He drew her closer anyway. Cassius felt the irrational urge to mark her, claim her as his; and if the only way to do that was to let some of his poison rub off on her, then so be it.[1]

For a female author to write a young, woman through the male gaze is nothing new to readers of young adult, fantasy fiction. These unhealthy depictions of women are usually tied in with problematic, romantic relationships, which are gradually being called out by members of the young adult book community. Two novels, which were on my reading list for this year, were inclusive of these relationships in a problematic way, wherein problematic is defined as something ‘full of problems or difficulties’. The books in question, Roar by Cora Carmack and The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, portrayed romantic relationships wherein the power dynamic was dramatically out of balance. One writes primarily through the male gaze, sexualising the protagonist’s interactions with the male characters, both in her point of view and the men’s. The other novel, however, the power imbalance lies within the concept of Stockholm syndrome, a condition in which someone being abused bonds emotionally with their abuser[2]—in this circumstance, it is a slave and her immortal enslaver. Readings these texts, as well as others with similar relationships depicted, forced me to question if my writing has been condition over the years to reflect these types of relationships in my works. It is something that has been considered when writing women and men in my own fantasy young adult novel, to make sure not to cross the line into writing under the male gaze.

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Scene From Darius

Despite the harsh chill of winter, and the snow falling like shuriken’s, Darius was onsite. They stung his cheeks, the splinters of white. But she was there already, as she always was there before him. Today, she was crouched on a statue. No, she was on top of a face, upturned towards the grey canvas of the sky, in what Darius thought resembled power, authority. It was his creation and his muse, together.

They were always together.

His rolled his shoulders, torso naked to the winters torment, lush, iridescent wings flexing. Then he worked. Flesh collided with marble, ten fingers against ten tonnes of glittering rock. His fingers moved like a whip, his touch there one moment and gone the next.

Like a blizzard or torrential rain, flakes of metallic and dyed stone flew around him.Read More »

Sapphire

Sapphire fastened her mask of lapis lazuli, with cobalt gems and ribbon and ceramic, to her face. It showed only her eyes, which were a twin set of pearls; iridescent things that were a multitude of colour when light shone in the right places. The dress she wore was from the finest silver. It was a thing of metallic lace and wild chiffon, a sweetheart neckline accentuating the breadth of her shoulders. The garment shone against her skin, which was darker than an oceanic abyss.Read More »

Sara

Her trousers and shirt were made with the blades of time, and with the same care gardeners show their violets. The fabrics were an ensemble of lilac and cream, an absurd pattern that only women like her could pull off. She was armed with her cello, the bow her companion. Sara was to meet him again, under the guise of a performer. She wanted to be more than a musician for his pleasure, for those dramatic parties his family threw.

And she knew, that he did too.Read More »