The winner of last time’s juvenilia extension project was undoubtedly Matt Cowens, whose spectacular essay on the brilliance of my adolescent poetry earned him a prize I’m still contemplating. It starts with “Reminiscent of Coleridge’s earlier works,” for goodness’ sake. Points off for misspelling my name, but at the very least he deserves an internet, and your eyes on his awesome sci-fi Christmas story, The Death Star of New Bethlehem.

Today’s offering is the (very short) first chapter of a novel of which I never wrote more. This is a very common genre of my teen years – I think I was probably 16 or 17 when I wrote this – so I offer this representative sample of my early fantasy chops. The best part, which I can’t really reproduce here, is how I evidently went through and added adverbs where I felt their absence was leaving the prose sort of naked.

~ * ~ * ~

The woman stood at the centre of the circle and probed delicately the crystal in her hands. She was certain that the power within it could be released, strange and other-worldy as it seemed. Almost absently, she pulled more power from the circle, and heard the chanting increase.

She found the hollow centre of the crystal and poured all the power she could gather into that well. Suddenly a picture flared into her mind. She smiled. Progress.

The image was one of a plain door with a heavily ornamented lock. She was standing before it (much more beautiful than in reality, she noted with amusement) holding a key that flared with light.

The dream-her put the key in the lock and firmly turned it. Alarmed, the woman suddenly saw a black pentagram flare onto the door and tried to pull back from the spell. But it was too late. Caught, the dream-woman turned the handle — and opened the door.

The woman had but one glimpse of what was beyond before her mind exploded into gibbering terror. This was wrong, unclean! Pulling on reserves she hadn’t suspected she possessed, she wrenched herself back to reality, collapsing onto the soft grass with a howl.

The circle instantly dissolved, rushing to the prone body. Supporting hands helped her sit, anxious eyes flinched back from the black despair in hers. She pushed them all away and stood. Then she told them what had happened in her trance. The horrified silence that followed her story was completely justified.

~ * ~ * ~

Very suspenseful, younger self! There are also some doodles of a bull head or maybe a jackal head in the margins. I do not even know.

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Good News Day

Things You Want to Hear From Your Editor About Your Latest Manuscript:

So you seem to have written another thrilling, tense novel – with a goodly dollop of URST and very appealing characters. How extraordinarily clever of you!

Thank you, S. I think you’re neat!

What else do I think is neat, could it be…. MY AUSTRALIAN/NEW ZEALAND COVER?

Wait, that wasn’t very patriotic of me.


(ETA: I should note that this might not be the final-FINAL cover.)

That’s from the Allen and Unwin catalogue page for Guardian of the Dead, where you can also find out exciting things like the price as well as poke around many other fine books.


Would you like to know an Interesting Fact about the person on the cover? That isn’t the protagonist! Mmmm, mysterious redheads.