Some of you know that Creatures of Light had to be almost entirely rewritten just a few months before publication--particularly if you were lucky enough to follow along my slow deterioration into temporary insanity while on deadline last summer. The book as it exists now was written in about three and a half months. While there are a few snippets that remained the same from the first incarnation to the next--like some of the travel through the cave system, and a bit of the interaction with Gemma's mother--most of it is completely different. Different characters died, different characters fell in love, different countries ended up with alternative political systems. And almost none of it revolved around the protagonist, Gemma--which became the main reason the story needed a complete reorientation.
The book is much stronger now, thanks to the guidance from my agent and editor and feedback from my betas. And one of the many gifts the rewrite has given me is an entire manuscript of unpublished material. Most of it is irrelevant now, but the prologue below still could have happened within the canon of the current book. In it, we see Mona, Mae, Rou, and Colm a few weeks after the end of Ashes to Fire, with Mona sick in bed and still trying to get stuff done anyway. I never truly loved this prologue, because unlike the first two books, it didn't add any extra layers to the story--and again, none of it revolves around the protagonist at all. But it's got a few little fun snippets, and probably still happened in the interlude between books 2 and 3. Check it out below the jump!
Warning: There are some spoilers for Woodwalker and Ashes to Fire included, so proceed at your own discretion!
Creatures of Light Original Prologue
“Oh.” Mona puckered her lips. “Oh great Light—that’s absolutely vile.”
“Drink it all,” Ellamae said, swirling the rest of the tincture in the pot.
“I have a personal physician, you know,” Mona said irritably as she raised the mug again. “A highly skilled healer who knows all about infection.”
Ellamae snorted. “You’ll forgive me if I don’t put much stock insomeone who still thinks feverfew can actually treat a fever.”
“At least she doesn’t brew up poison.”
“I don’t, either. That’s rich in tannins, is what it is. And anyway, if you want to blame anybody…” Ellamae jerked her thumb over her shoulder, where Rou was watching the process with visible anxiety.
“I don’t blame you,” Mona said as Rou opened his mouth. “Don’t let Mae tell you otherwise.”
“He set you on fire,” she said.
“He did not. I don’t blame you,” Mona repeated more forcefully as Rou dragged his hand over his face. “What happened in Lilou was an accident, and it’s just a misfortune of the last few weeks that the burn didn’t get cared for properly. We were focusing more on getting back to Lumen Lake.” She waved to the documents on the side table, attempting to refocus the conversation. “And anyway, a little fever on my end isn’t going to get you out of responding to these documents, Mae.”
“Oh, let Val do it,” she said, corking her various bottles.
“He’s not here. And you know the ordering of the Guard better than he does. I want to draft a response together.”
She sighed and dropped into an armchair by the fireplace. “Tell me again exactly what the terms are? I was distracted the first time.”
“You were ignoring me,” Mona said, raising the paper. “The Winderan and Paroan monarchs have given us their official alliance, and we are drawing up the formal terms of the treaty for their review. We need Celeno to understand that if he moves against one of us, he moves against all of us.”
Ellamae propped her double-fringed boots on the end of Mona’s bed. “So tell him that. You move against one of us, you move against all of us. There, done. Drink the rest of that tincture.”
“That’s not adequate, Mae, and you know it,” she said irritably, scribbling something in the margin of the document. “Work with me. I think we need to have some kind of plan in place for the transmission of messages between the coast and the Silverwood. We need to be able to communicate quickly with Matariki.”
“All right, sounds good.” Ellamae nodded to Colm, who was just coming through the bedroom door with a stack of parchment in his hand.
“No, it doesn’t sound good--you have to tell me what role the Silverwood Guard…” Her emphatic admonishment was drowned suddenly under a wave of coughing. She leaned back, clasping a handkerchief over her mouth.
Everyone moved at once. Ellamae jumped from her chair and swiped the teetering mug from her hand. Rou lunged for a cold cloth soaking in a basin. Colm set his own stack of parchment on the coverlet and plucked the document from Mona’s lap to keep it out of harm’s way.
As Rou dabbed her forehead with the cloth, Colm glanced at the lengthy document, written out in Mona’s smooth, elegant handwriting. “Perhaps you should do this another time, Mona.”
“Yes,” Ellamae said, planting the mug of bitter-smelling tea back in her hand. “You need to rest.”
Mona struggled to regain control of her breath, her cheeks bright pink against the pallor of her face. “No,” she said. “We’re getting this done now so it can be sent over the mountains tomorrow, and if you don’t want it to kill me, then stop being so obstinate. This is more important than anything we’ve done so far.” She looked down at the stack of parchment Colm had set on her knees. “Is this the information I asked for?” She reached for the top document.
“Yes. No!” He snatched at the sheaf she held in her hands, her quick gaze darting down the page. “No, the others are. That’s just…”
Her eyes widened and then narrowed considerably. She looked up at Colm. “What in the name of the Light is this?”
He plucked it out of her hand. “Just a curiosity. Some of the work the Alcorans left behind.”
Ellamae glanced at the title as she stirred a fresh mug of tea to supplement the still-full one in Mona’s hand. “An Evidence on the Cosmic Origin of the Meteor and its Radiant. What does that even mean?”
“I don’t care what it’s called,” Mona said, her eyes glittering dangerously. “I care about whose name is on it. Why are you reading Celeno’s academic work? I asked you to compile the missives between him and his captain while they occupied the lake.”
“And I did.” He nodded to the stack of papers still on the bed, folding the sheaf of parchment and tucking it back under his arm. “And I came across this in the meantime. It’s nothing, Mona.” He shrugged. “Just curiosity.”
He turned and headed for the door. She clenched her mug with both hands, watching him leave the room with a startled, wary glint in her eye.
Creatures of Light can be purchased from any major book retailer,
or ordered through your favorite indie bookstore or local library!
March Art Roundup
Some fan art for Children of Blood and Bone and The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, some lighting practice, and a few commissioned character sketches.
Emily B. Martin
Author and Illustrator