Many of my readers who’ve been following my progress on Dark Magick Rising (or who follow me on Twitter) know that I’ve had super-gargantuan motivational writing support from one of my favorite people in the world (and one of my fave authors!) Andi Van. Andi pretty much keeps me in line writing-wise, and we’ve discovered we make a damn good writing sprint team when we have words to get done! But you wanna hear something cool? Andi has a new release coming September 18th! It’s book 2 in their Mages’ Guild Trilogy. The title is Magic Wept. Naturally, when Andi mentioned a month or so ago that they needed to add a few more stops to their Magic Wept blog tour, I offered up my space because if you love m/m fantasy and paranormal, you need to read Andi’s books! Seriously. Go. Right now! Okay, wait, FIRST read this blog post. Then do yourself a favor and read some Andi Van books! 🙂
Now that I’ve unashamedly fangirled, I’ll shut up and get out of the way and let Andi (and their dragon!) take over my blog for the day!
Once upon a time (the early 1990s), before the dawn of the internet as we know it, there was a BBS (that’s “Bulletin Board System”, and we had to use actual phone lines to dial into them via modem) in which I ran a role-playing group set in a mages’ guild. My character’s name was Trivintaie, and she was a redheaded mage with a penchant for mischief.
Yes, she was THAT Triv. The same Triv that starts off the whole Mages’ Guild Trilogy.
When I decided to revive her and write the trilogy, I knew I couldn’t make her the main character. Her time had passed, and too many other people had taken part in creating her guild for it to really be mine. So I set the trilogy a thousand years in the future and gave her world a new hero.
What I didn’t expect was that I’d pack it with such a diverse set of characters, most of which reflected some part of the rainbow. It was completely unintentional, but once I realized it was happening, I was thrilled. One of my goals was to give young adults—and adults not quite so young—characters that maybe they could identify with in a way they might not have been able to before.
So I’d like to introduce you all to some of the new characters in the second book of the trilogy, Magic Wept.
But before that, I wanted to let you all know that there is indeed a giveaway. I will be randomly generating three winners on September 30th, all of whom will receive a plush purple cat (because nothing says magic like a K’yerin plushie—Tasis’ familiar is just full of himself enough to agree with that sentiment) and an ebook copy of Magic Wept. You can enter the giveaway at http://andivan.com/magic-wept-blog-tour/.
And now, on to the characters.
Today I’m going to talk about Yldost. Appropriate, given that they’re a dragon. And, well, so is M.L., who’s hosting me today. So it’s apparently dragon day in dragon land.
Yldost is kind of near and dear to my heart for several reasons, but the big one? They’re nonbinary. Originally I’d intended to make them genderfluid, having them cycle through genders on a regular basis. But as is the case with a lot of characters, they informed me I was wrong.
I made mention in Magic Fell of the fact that people thought dragons were extinct. Our heroes were, in fact, very surprised to meet Vashk in the first book. When they find Yldost in Magic Wept, Yldost is near death, needing to be nursed back to health. They’re also roughly the size of a small cat, so at least our heroes didn’t have to nurse some enormous beast. I imagine that would have made things substantially more difficult, all things considered.
Yldost was both a very easy and a very difficult character to write. A lot of the difficulty actually involved edits. Singular they as a pronoun can be really difficult to write in a way that makes sense, sometimes. It gets confusing as to who exactly is being talked about. Worse, I was raised in a time and place where “he” was the default if the gender was unknown (or nonbinary, apparently – keep in mind that when I was growing up, nonbinary wasn’t a thing). So I misgendered them a LOT. Which made me feel horrible, considering singular they is also MY pronoun, and I do a lot of taking deep breaths and counting to ten when I get misgendered.
I’m going to take a moment to make an observation here, because it’s important: You may not feel that they/them should be one person’s pronouns. You may feel it’s wrong, either grammatically or for other reasons. Use it anyway. It costs you nothing to respect the wishes of the person who has informed you that their pronoun is they. The same goes if someone who you think should clearly be using the pronouns typically assigned to one binary gender tells you that you’re incorrect, they actually use pronouns from the other binary gender. The only person who has the right to insist on your gender is you. Likewise, no one has the right to insist on someone else’s gender.
[climbs off soapbox]
That said, let’s move on to the excerpt, shall we?
“The fact the poor thing’s been locked up longer than my mother-in-law has been alive makes me want to weep,” Firea said with a sigh as she set her plate down next to Kelwin and took a seat. “I can’t even imagine.” She looked at Kelwin’s plate, looked up at Kelwin, then looked down at his plate again.
Kelwin sighed. “Yes, fine, I’ll eat.” Without bothering to look, he groped for his fork, only to feel a sharp pain in the pad of his thumb. He swore and pulled his hand back to see he’d managed to slice open the end of the digit.
Firea let out an exasperated sigh. “Really, Kelwin, you’re not supposed to grab your knife by the blade. Is it bleeding?”
“Yeah,” Kelwin admitted. “It’s not too bad.”
“Um, Kelwin?” Jorget asked.
“Really,” Firea said again, not paying any attention to the fact that Jorget had been talking as she shuffled over to the stove to grab a clean rag. “You need to take better care of yourself.”
“Kelwin,” Jorget repeated.
“I’m fine,” Kelwin protested as Firea returned to the table and grabbed at his hand to take a look at the injury.
“Kelwin!” Jorget shouted. This time both Kelwin and Firea stopped and looked at him. He pointed toward Kelwin’s chest.
When Kelwin looked down, Yldost’s eyes were open. And they were focused on the blood slowly trailing down his thumb.
Kelwin groaned and looked at the ceiling. “Of course. Of course I’ve tried everything, but the dragon wants my blood. Why wouldn’t I end up with a vampire dragon in my care?”
“Vampires are a myth,” Jorget said. He shrugged when Kelwin frowned at him. “No, seriously, I asked Vashk. He said vampires are a myth.”
“Why were you asking him about vampires?”
“I was going through a list of things we think are myths to see what might be real,” Jorget admitted.
A small sound of longing issued from the sling resting against Kelwin’s chest. Right. Vampires being a myth wasn’t the real problem at the moment. With a sigh, Kelwin offered his thumb to the emaciated dragon. “No taking chunks of my flesh,” he warned Yldost.
Thankfully, the dragon merely latched on to his thumb and began to suck.
“Well, I suppose it makes sense,” Jorget allowed as he watched. “Blood’s full of nutrients.” He leaned his elbow on the table, then rested his chin in his hand to watch. “Did you happen to ask Vashk why Yldost is so small? I mean, he was huge in the mural. Relative to the other things portrayed, I mean. Of course the mural was huge.”
“They,” Kelwin corrected, wincing when Yldost bit into his thumb. Apparently the cut had stopped bleeding, and the dragon had decided to create a new source. To their credit, they only bit hard enough to start the bleeding anew and didn’t actually try to eat him. “And Vashk said that before they disappeared, Yldost had the ability to change their size. He guessed once Yldost is stronger, they’ll make themself larger.”
Jorget looked confused, and Kelwin had a feeling he knew what was coming. He hoped the question didn’t piss off the feasting dragon. “Why refer to a dragon in the plural?”
Yldost neither paused nor bit down harder, so Kelwin decided they’d either ignored the question or didn’t care. “Vashk said something about neither gender applying to Yldost. ‘They’ is neutral. Just go with it. It makes them happy.”
“I’m not going to argue with a dragon,” Jorget said quickly, giving a quick glance to Yldost. “It sounds odd to me. It’ll take some getting used to. No big deal.” He cocked his head, the confusion on his face deepening. “Is he—sorry, are they purring?”
Kelwin looked down and smiled. “Yeah. That’s certainly what it sounds like.”
Andi Van is a foul-mouthed troublemaker who lives near San Diego with a baseball bat that’s forever being used for things other than baseball, and a fondness for rum and caffeine (though not necessarily together).
Andi is fluent in three languages (English, sarcasm, and profanity), and takes pride in a highly developed—if somewhat bizarre—sense of humor.
About Magic Wept…
Jorget has no surname, no blood kin, and no hope of using his magical ability while he remains at Archai Castle, where the mad king reigns. With magic still outlawed, every experiment he performs could cost him his life. So when his mentor, the royal priest Denekk, is ordered to send Jorget on a journey to find a magical weapon, the young man jumps at the chance to prove himself. What he doesn’t realize is that things are never as simple as they seem.
Kelwin Tiovolk has settled into life in the Mages’ Guild of the Dragon’s Claw with his beloved, guild leader Tasis Kadara. But when word arrives that the king is searching for something to destroy the guild, he knows he has to leave behind the comfort of his new home to save what Tasis worked so hard to rebuild.
With enemies around every corner, Jorget and Kelwin need to pull off a miracle in order to save the guild. Luckily, they’re more than ready to stand strong together and keep what’s precious to them safe.
Available for pre-order now, or widely available September 18, 2018!