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Future Treasures: Skinner Luce by Patricia Ward

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Skinner Luce-smallSkinner Luce. What kind of a title is ‘Skinner Luce?’ If I were publishing my first fantasy novel, I probably wouldn’t call it that. Then again, if I were publishing my first fantasy novel, I’d probably call it, Orcs Invade Illinois Grab Your Pitchforks and CHARGE!!!! So maybe no one should listen to me.

Complex characters and taut, poignant writing highlight this hardened literary fantasy set in the frigid winters of present-day Boston.

Every year when the deep cold of winter sets in, unbeknownst to humanity, dangerous visitors arrive from another world. Disguised as humans, the Nafikh move among us in secret, hungry for tastes of this existence. Their fickle, often-violent needs must be accommodated at all times, and the price of keeping them satisfied is paid most heavily by servs.

Created by the Nafikh to attend their every whim, servs are physically indistinguishable from humans but for the Source, the painful, white-hot energy that both animates and enslaves them. Destined to live in pain, unable to escape their bondage, servs dwell in a bleak underworld where life is brutal and short.

Lucy is a serv who arrived as a baby and by chance was adopted by humans. She’s an outcast among outcasts, struggling to find a place where she truly belongs. For years she has been walking a tightrope, balancing between the horrors of her serv existence and the ordinary life she desperately longs to maintain; her human family unaware of her darkest secrets.

But when the body of a serv child turns up and Lucy is implicated in the gruesome death, the worlds she’s tried so hard to keep separate collide. Hounded by the police, turned upon by the servs who once held her dear, she must protect her family and the life she’s made for herself.

Skinner Luce will be published by Talos Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, on January 12, 2016. It is 343 pages, priced at $24.99 in hardcover. Cover by Anna Dittmann.

21 Comments »

  1. Please publish a fantasy novel soon!

    Comment by peer - November 22, 2015 2:15 pm

  2. Started on it right after I wrote that awesome title!

    Comment by John ONeill - November 22, 2015 3:22 pm

  3. Hm, so if we have pitchforks, I suppose some of this novel is set well outside of Chicago. A running conflict between urban and rural Illinoisans no doubt delays an effective response to the Orc invasion. The city’s machine politics probably don’t help — the Orcs would look like an untapped voting bloc.

    Dude, you should totally write this. Or at the very least run it as an RPG campaign for your kids.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - November 24, 2015 2:16 am

  4. Future Treasures: Orcs Invade Illinois Grab Your Pitchforks and CHARGE!!! by John O Neil

    Complex characters and taut, poignant writing highlight this hardened literary fantasy set in present-day Illinois.

    When the Orcs of lower Manhattan make their bideccenal trip across all of the United States their trek is stopped in Illionois where they met with hostilitys. As a result the Orcs take over Illinois and declare their independance.
    To the dismay of the lowland Elves and the human settlers the US goverment is more than happy to get rid of “the Orc questions” by granting them independance. The decide to put the matter in their hand.
    John O´Neil portrair a civil war, set in a modern “Fantasy states” in a way that no side seems to be the “good side” and no protagonist trully evil.

    Comment by peer - November 24, 2015 9:17 am

  5. > Dude, you should totally write this. Or at the very least run it as an RPG campaign for your kids.

    Sarah,

    I’m on the hunt for a talented ghostwriter. Let me know if you’re available. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - November 24, 2015 11:42 am

  6. > When the Orcs of lower Manhattan make their bideccenal trip across all of the United States their trek is stopped in
    > Illionois where they met with hostilitys. As a result the Orcs take over Illinois and declare their independance.

    It appears I’ve already found a talented plotter! Peer, let me know your availability for an immediate story conference.

    Comment by John ONeill - November 24, 2015 11:44 am

  7. As long as I can plot and dont have to write anything, Im game 😉

    (My excuse is that Im German with no grasp for the American geography. Or language for that matter 😉

    Comment by peer - November 24, 2015 11:54 am

  8. John, if I postponed work on my next declared project, the most fanatical of my Rugosa Coven fans would advance on Illinois, snarling like Orcs.

    And alas, none of my familial ghosts write independently.

    So maybe it’s a GURPS campaign.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - November 24, 2015 11:50 pm

  9. > John, if I postponed work on my next declared project, the most fanatical of my Rugosa Coven fans would advance on Illinois, snarling like Orcs.

    Nuts. Why are the good ghost writers always taken??

    Comment by John ONeill - November 25, 2015 1:59 am

  10. “John, if I postponed work on my next declared project, the most fanatical of my Rugosa Coven fans would advance on Illinois, snarling like Orcs.”

    Which would help you tremendously of envision the events happening in Johns/Your book :-)

    Comment by peer - November 25, 2015 10:21 am

  11. Like most humans Grover Whalen was uneasy around Orcs. But unlike most people he was not intimidated by their physical appearance nor by their very foreign culture. As Police Commissioner of New York he is used to intimidating and/or strange/weird/batcrazy people. Its more that he feels a tad guilty, that he can’t see past the atrocities that the Orcs have committed over the centuries and feel sorry for a race that has been all but extinct in the Great war and the following Hunt/Genocide. He thinks he really should feel sorry, but he can’t. Also he is responsible for coordinating the Raj, which will be happening tomorrow.

    Coordinating the biggest convoy in the US since the first Raj on American soil (eight years ago, just two years after the Orcs´ exodus from Europe) is no small feat, even if Whalen is limited to the borders of New York. He still doesn’t know if the exodus itself is bothering him more or the fact that from the day after tomorrow basically the whole Lower Manhattan will be deserted for several month and he will be the one held responsible by Orcs coming home to looted or vandalized homes.
    Anyway…

    “Im sorry Mr. Oolumbarok, I wont give you the subway tunnels” Whalen held up a hand. “Im not saying, youre wrong. Your point is well made. My man wont be able to protect your people on the streets from being shot at from street windows. God, I do remember what happened last time. Vividly. But the tunnels are simply not made for pedestrians. Not for that many. And I won’t even manage the Lizzys and the coaches you want to bring in there.. You have to use Harbour bridge or stay home.”

    Mr Oolumbarok, 2nd speaker of Chief Yarambaste, didnt take this too well . His hands moved to remove the waraxe from his belt, forgetting that he had to surrender it earlier. When his hands didnt find their intended target, he settled for spitting and cursing and a quick and dramatic exit.

    “Mr Oolumbarok, I can assure you, I will try my best to make your exit from New York as quickly as possible” Whalen said in the vague direction of the door. But not too loud.

    Comment by peer - December 1, 2015 2:53 pm

  12. Peer,

    That’s already far superior to my efforts. I hand the entire project over to you!

    Comment by John ONeill - December 1, 2015 3:03 pm

  13. As long as you promise to publish this on Black Gate , if I ever finish something
    😉

    (Easy promise, because its quite likely that I stop as soon as the momentum ceases and forget about the whoile thing :)

    Comment by peer - December 1, 2015 3:37 pm

  14. Can somebody tell me how many people were living in Lower Manhattan in the 1930s? Just a rough estimate?

    Comment by peer - December 5, 2015 4:55 pm

  15. Peer,

    This Wikipedia page gives some nice stats on Manhattan’s popular growth over the last century:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_history_of_New_York_City

    According to the table, Manhattan had a total population of 1,867,312 in 1930, and 1,889,924 in 1940.

    Hope that helps!

    Comment by John ONeill - December 6, 2015 12:53 pm

  16. It does – even if there is no column of how many of them were Orcs. :-)

    Comment by peer - December 7, 2015 8:18 am

  17. Chapter 1: Changes

    Rural Illinois

    Dekembo Tarantin Hassah Mustanpoor got off his Lizzie to assess the damage.
    Once they left the hostile streets of New York and hit the wide streets of (more or less) rural Pennsylvania the Raj went smoothly and with barely a hitch. Sure, some hostilities like tacks on the roads or the occasional flintlock shot at them from great distance were observed, but these things are to be expected in enemy territory. Leaving New York was hell: As soon as they left their safe lairs of Lower Manhattan, they were fair game to anyone with a throwing weapon, flintlock or spell. Mustanpoor would estimate that more than 1500 Orcs died or got severely injured. But such are the casualties of war. He was more angered by the ten or so Lizzies that got torched. A Lizzie is a kind of wonder, a beauty, a piece of art (at least in Mustanpoors opinion). To torch one out of spite meaning offending the Gods. Plus every one breaking down means a further slowing of the Raj.
    Which is why he was upset that when someone shot him, he accidently drove the Lizzie in a ditch. This shouldn’t have happened. His only excuse is, that the shot hit him right in the shoulder, jerking the wheel, which means that the bullet basically determined the route of the Lizzie for a split second. Which was enough on these narrow rural roads. But still. An Orc should be better than that. He didn’t bother to look for the shooter. For such a heavy impact of the shot, the flintlock couldn’t have been too far which means he is been dealt with by now. If Orcs are good at something, its identifying and killing threats. Quickly.
    Mustanpoor is good for other things too though. He always considered it a pity that most of his fellow Orcs are still try to cling to warfare as their sole skill. Warfare shouldn´t be the priority if you are living a sad live as tolerated refugees in exile. That there are skill sets that are more useful in the current circumstances doesn’t mean to give up on traditions, but traditions only bring you so far. Case in point: If he would be a traditionalist, he wouldn’t be able to fix the Lizzie. As it is, he would be able to carry on in about an hour or two, depending on the state of the axle.

    It ended up being more than that, because one of the springs of the suspension broke. Luckily Mustanpoor had a spare, but putting it in the right place meant pushing the Lizzie on its side, preferably without denting anything. It wasn’t his best work, but Mustanpoor did take pride in it, knowing he is one of perhaps one Orcs in existence, that can do this work.
    Of course a big chunk of the Raj has passed him, by the time he finished it, but since the Raj is considered a way of pilgrimage and not a race, that was OK with Mustanpoor.

    It also turned out to have saved his Life: Thirteen explosions rocked the Raj, most of them blowing up the main supply vehicles at the back of the trek. One killed Chieftain Yarambaste and the royal supplies. Since Chieftain Yarambaste liked to keep him close, in case something happens to the royal Lizzie, he would have been in front and he wouldn’t have survived the carnage. Which would have meant, that he didn’t have to worry about the future of the Raj now. But the present is rarely how one envisions it.

    Comment by peer - December 20, 2015 3:46 pm

  18. Im actually a bit further than that but I got to ask: Is this somewhat OK? I never wrote a story in a foreign language before and I seriously cant tell if this sounds somewhat reasonable or even readable…
    So, does that story sound interesting? Or is it to verbose or anything?

    Comment by peer - December 20, 2015 3:49 pm

  19. Hi Peer,

    Glad to see you’re still carrying on the story!

    This probably isn’t the best place for it any more, unfortunately… this post is almost a month old, and no one checks the comments on old book posts. I wouldn’t have noticed it myself, except I track all recent comments.

    You have a remarkably confident style for someone writing in a foreign language! You jump right into the action, and grab the reader’s attention immediately. Well done.

    My major critique is that you tend to confuse tenses. You start off in the past tense, and then change to present tense right in the middle of the action:

    > Which is why he was upset that when someone shot him…

    This is an amateur mistake. If I were still reading fiction to purchase for Black Gate, I would have stopped reading at that point. But a good editor or proofreader could help you spot it.

    Good luck with the rest of the tale!

    Comment by John ONeill - December 21, 2015 12:52 am

  20. Thanks for the quick feedback. I do know its not the best place here, but I just want to be sure, Im not total crap atwhat Im doing :-)

    My plan is to carry on as far as it goes. If I can finish the tale Ill give it to my wife (Native speaker and english major) for clearing all mistakes. Then Ill let you know – after all youre inspired the whole thing, so you can see it first :-)

    But I dont know if and when that will be… :-)

    Comment by peer - December 21, 2015 7:33 am

  21. Understood – and good luck with it! Black Gate no longer publishes original fiction, but there are plenty of places where you can submit a polished manuscript.

    Comment by John ONeill - December 21, 2015 12:50 pm


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