Harperpages

The blog of author Harper Alexander


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A Creature at the Door

Days of Twilight and Mischief Blog Banner 1 Lowres

An excerpt from Days of Twilight and Mischief, due out next month!

***

That night, something else came to the door. We were unaware, as we slept, but later – much later, after my time in Dar’on – I would become acquainted with the creature and how it operated. Thus I can paint a clear account of its visit.

It came out of the shadows and shuffled across the field on all fours. Not as something normally meant to crawl on all fours, but like a human who chose to do so for some reason beyond common comprehension. So long had it chosen this method of travel that its back had stooped severely, becoming a hunched, deformed thing, and it moved in a swift, distorted fashion across the field. Somewhat ape-like, somewhat spider-like. Every motion twisted and flicked to create a freakish shadow that tricked the eye, appearing as often like an extension of the creature itself as it did a mere impression of it.

Around the manor and up to the door it scuffled, where it carefully opened the screen, raised a stringy, clawed hand and dragged a diagonal pattern of scratch marks across the face of the door.

It might have stopped there, leaving your average signature of claw marks to be attributed to any number of wild creatures. But it was only the first of four swipes. The second, it dragged diagonally across the first to create a many-layered X. The third went horizontally across the middle of the X, and the fourth vertically as if to connect the last compass points.

Yet it was not the symbol of a compass that would greet those who came to the doorstep of Manor Dorn from that day forward, but the likeness of a web. One final flourish of the creature’s claws, a perfect circle around the middle of the symbol, finished the representation.

Then, rather than dropping back to all fours to scurry away into the night, the creature looked upward into the acrid midnight sky and placed its strange hands against the face of Manor Dorn, and scurried straight up the side of the house and over the rooftop, down the other side, and disappeared in a ripple of field grasses.

In the morning, when I saw the symbol of a spider web scratched across our door, I would think to myself it was like Fate sealing Tane into our fold, sealing all of us together into the same house. I had brought him into our midst against my better judgment, and now we were all caught in the same web, strung together in an irrevocable binding of fate.

An ill feeling settled in my stomach, but there was nothing for it. I gazed a moment longer at the disquieting mark and then left it to its reign on our manor, not about to meddle with it lest I get further caught up in its snare.

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City of Winter and Tarnish Cover Reveal

City of Web and Tarnish

And now, the cover reveal for the second volume in the freshly-edited Mischief saga, City of Winter and Tarnish! I just love it so much. Originally, I entitled this volume City of Web and Tarnish. I always knew I wanted a visual of a door perched on top of a heap of rubble, but I was never quite sure how I was going to fill in the background. Not for lack of ideas, but just because I could have done a number of things and didn’t know what would look best until I sat down to put it together. I always figured I’d just do a faded view of a ruined city or something along those lines, but literally as I was starting the cover design and saving the file, I typed the ‘W’ of ‘web’ into the file name and suddenly thought of the word ‘winter’. It just came to me, and I stopped, cursor blinking, considering the possibilities. I’d really fallen in love with ‘City of Web and Tarnish’, and it made sense, but Winter ALSO sounded amazing, and also happened to make sense plot-wise, since what’s through the doorway is essentially a winter landscape. The more I tried the name on my tongue, the more I liked it. And as soon as I started thinking about the design possibilities, I was sold. I love the graceful twist on what was originally a purely desolate vision, and I’ve always focused on telling the story based on a combination of beauty and horror. So the contrast of delicate lacy snow against grungey, haunted ruins is perfect. I’m so charmed with the result!

City of Web and Tarnish


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If I Were to Write about Zombies…

I have never been one to jump on the zombie bandwagon, but that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes have a vision or two that would be perfect for writing a zombie book.

Today, for instance, I thought of how I would start my zombie book, if I were to write one. Thought it might be worth a post.

*

Granny was in denial. The atmosphere inside the house was that of Baby’s Breath freshly cut on the mantles and the floral bedcovers made up in summery repose, and the old radio like a broken record stuck on jazzy, previous-generation classics.

Outside, I carried my ax.

What unsettled me the most was where the Baby’s Breath came from. To my knowledge, Granny never left the cottage. This was why she was able to live in a state of ignorant bliss, believing the world went on as a quaint, cheery place, her impression sheltered within the illusion of her fool’s paradise.

As far as I knew, Granny thought my ax was for chopping wood. She had not so much as peered through the holes in the lace curtains since the day I holed us up and pulled them closed.

And yet, I didn’t pick the floral sprigs that were periodically replaced atop the mantles of the cottage. And that meant that sometime, Granny slipped out into the big wide world full of scary things, and came back unscathed while I was none the wiser.


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Completion, publication, and elation!

It is finished!  June’s book, A Mischief in the Woodwork, is complete – and has gone live!  Still working on the paperback, but the e-book is available here: A Mischief in the Woodwork

It went live late two nights ago, only for me to discover (the next morning) that the formatting somehow got messed up when it converted to kindle format.  So I spent all day hastening to re-format in between cleaning house and preparing for a work party we’re having today (we’re building a shed), hoping no one would buy it in the meantime.  It was a crazy day, but I did it.  And not a moment too soon – the updated file processed a bit after midnight, and this morning I had my very first sale listed on my report 🙂  Phew.

And I didn’t even advertise it yet.  Off to a good start!

A Mischief in the Woodwork is one of my darker books.  All I was going for was dystopian, but it was very easy to slip into all the dark things that accompany dark times.  I myself wouldn’t go as far as to call it horror, but it may possess some similar vibes therein.  I do try to incorporate uplifting themes in all my work as well, though, regardless of how deep and dark they might get.  (A review someone left for Mind Games said it was both disturbing and uplifting – I’m not sure how those two can go together, but I am delighted to have achieved it.  That is also coincidentally how I would describe A Mischief in the Woodwork.)

Regardless of dark or light, this has been one of my favorite books to write, hands down.  I loved creating the world, really clicked with the main character, totally got into the atmosphere (I don’t know if a world I’ve created has ever been so clear and vivid in my mind before), and the underlying subject matter is something very dear to my heart.  This is one of those books that just worked for me, start to finish.  Rarely did I suffer from writer’s block, and I don’t know if there was ever a time that I was unhappy with what I had, or didn’t know where I was going.  That never happens.  I am constantly second-guessing my work these days, meeting with writer’s block a portion of the way through, or having to take a breather to figure out where the heck I want to go with a given storyline.

A Mischief in the Woodwork was simply like fulfilling a vision, all the way through.  Just putting down on paper something that, seemingly, was already in me, needing very much to get out.