1. Of Serpents and Stars
In 2017, I was honored to win Pitch Wars, the highly accredited online writing competition. Entanglement editor Judi Lauren selected me as her mentee for my YA fantasy novel, Of Serpents and Stars.
Here’s an aesthetic, the pitch, and first page.
Seventeen-year-old Azea is Une Dame Masquée. Forced to dance for the French Troll King’s masquerade balls every night, Azea fights her fate with pirouettes and seductive smiles—anything to distract the heart-eating Court from her friends and fellow courtesans. She fears she’ll remain trapped in the château her whole life until Luc, a charismatic stranger from a legendary Troll Court, arrives with a secret: there’s a way to escape.
Azea flees and hides among humans in a Parisian apartment, where she conspires with Luc to overthrow the Troll King. As Luc’s kindness helps her learn how to laugh and love, she tumbles into his world of passion and politics—but King Mathieu never lets his little darlings fly free. As long as King Mathieu reigns, no woman is safe from his tyranny, and no Court can escape his thirst for blood.
Azea could spend the rest of her days running, or return to the French Court and face the man who haunts her dreams. Only by opening her heart to Luc and accepting her past will Azea become who she was born to be. Then she may stand a chance at freeing those who dance in chains, and defeating King Mathieu. But doing so will force her to cleave her heart in two, which could mean losing Luc, her freedom, and herself, forever.
Deep in the night, in nothing but gossamer silk and a mask of diamonds, I was simply a body. Hands twirling, hips swaying, chiffon careening around my calves.
Sweat, slick, heady, drunk, dancing, dancing, dancing.
Chandeliers dripping with crystallized moonlight glittered in the Court’s ballroom. It was so grand, so opulent, it could swallow me whole. I barely saw the far walls as I pirouetted across the gilded marble floor, my toes screaming with each impact.
Hundreds of girls moved alongside me, their faces concealed by the intricate masks we wore every night.
But I knew them. Each and every one of them: Marine’s midnight black skin embedded with silver half-moon tattoos; Cécile’s thin blond hair and delicate bones. I looked for her every evening, ensuring she was still alive.
Their thoughts, their breaths, were real. We were real, a secret we kept to ourselves, because we were Les Dames Masquées of Trolleaux, the Troll Court just south of Paris. Forced to dance for the King’s grand masquerade balls every night, we moved until our feet blistered, our toes broke, and all that was left was a pile of limbs.
I had seen them. Shattered limbs. Bodies. Stacked. Dancers piled high once we fractured and could no longer move. Some trolls had skin as bronze as mine, almost human save for its unearthly glow. Others had skin like clay, or waxy arms, while some were seemingly made of sunlight, or moonlight, silver and black, brown and gold, from the far reaches of the seven Troll Courts.
It didn’t matter. We all spilled the same black blood in the end.
2. The Allure of a Parisian Romance
The Allure of a Parisian Romance is a coming of age memoir about my year living in Paris as an American expat. It delves into why Paris is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world, how that myth has been perpetuated, and what that means in terms of Parisian society today.
The book also has a strong focus on psychogeography.
I don’t have an aesthetic for this, so here’s just a picture of me in Paris, because why not?
In Paris’ first depictions, the city appeared as a circular or oval shape, and has remained that way ever since. But the maps didn’t chart the space beyond, the forests occupied by bandits and thieves. Despite the criminality that has resided in the heart of Paris for centuries, Parisians have often looked to the surrounding neighborhoods with fear: ‘Beyond this are the unchartered territories of the banlieue, which in the Parisian imagination is as dangerous now as the forests of the fifteenth-century city.’ As Hussey further explains, ‘the first maps of the city were also intended to capture its greatness, its monuments, palaces and churches.’ The French citizens’ individual lives, which provided the foundation of the city, had no place in the monumental importance of their maps. Instead, the maps portrayed ‘a static representation of royal splendor.’17 The suburbs were never included in this royal splendor, and so they meant nothing, and continued to mean nothing for years, ultimately fostering antagonism and violence that still bleeds into the heart of the city today.
17 Hussey, 2006, p. 103
3. Dancing With Death
I’m currently revising this project with the help of my agent and am so excited to one day share it with you! The pitch isn’t finalized so for now, here’s an aesthetic and first page.
Fear was a forgotten thing, for people who still knew how to feel. But this…
What they’d done…
I hadn’t lived in fear since escaping prison, crossing the forsaken wilderness across kingdoms and seas.
My journey to safety had been terrifying. This was worse.
A late summer breeze caressed my skin. Sailboats engraved with the Kingdom of Love’s insignia, a dove clutching holly in its beak, bobbed on the horizon, the noises of revelry muffled from my rocky hilltop. People rarely found me here. I liked it that way.
Even from a distance, I could almost smell fear in the visiting soldiers’ blood as they gazed upon the great winged lions circling our city. The lions were ever watchful of the looming sea, protecting their people as they’d done for centuries. They’d never once attacked a citizen, and still, the foreigners balked.
A lioness caught my eye. Sasha. Though she was among the clouds, her wings sweeping across the periwinkle dusk, I knew she could see me. She’d been imprisoned nearly longer than I had, and though we were both now free, I knew she felt it, too—that flicker, that recognition of fear for the first time in months, as the news of the Kingdom of Death’s decimation burned the hearts of citizens across our city. Vendors selling their latest inventions—clocks that read stars, bowls that calculated temperatures—mingled amongst the Kingdom of Love celebrators, their faces pale, lips drawn, as the shock of Death’s annihilation reverberated through the world, and seeped into our very skin, poisoning from the inside out.
The Kingdom of Love didn’t know what they’d truly done.
*Aesthetic images sourced on Pinterest