The Painted Veil: Week 3

3

As it happens, my wedding comes much quicker than expected. Despite my boredom at

Mother’s incessant wedding planning, her constant talk of ribbons, and dresses, and

flowers, and cake, and attendants-and lace- the busyness and intensity of my- or rather,

her– preparations creates a whirlwind that leaves little room for much other activity or

thought. After a day of planning, I simply roll into bed, wake several hours later, then start

the process over again.

Mercifully, my quickly impending wedding date also eliminates other headaches I would

have endured had I gone for a more conventional route to marital bliss. The most

important of these, perhaps, is the pruning-or shall I say, weeding- of the guest list. My

Great Aunt Myrna, who functions as my greatest critic, sees any engagement period of less

than six months as “cheap, gaudy, and low-position.” Those were her exact words when

she wrote to decline our invitation.

Another easy strike-out is my baby sister, Doris. She probably would have come had she not been so close to her

confinement. Plus, some of her illness from her first trimester had returned just in time for her last months

as a childless woman. Had I had a normal engagement period at my disposal, I probably would have scheduled the

wedding for when she’d given birth and had time to recover, but six weeks meant that there was no time fo

that.

Although I do feel bad for Doris, I can’t help but feel relieved as well. Although we’re

sisters,we had simply never found the closeness and friendship that should be between

sisters. I think it’s because she is so much like Mother; fussy, and fretful, and monotone

and conventional. To be friends with Doris would be like having Mother always breathing

down my throat, criticizing my every move. It would be like letting mother into my mind

and my heart, and if I did that, my mind would be turned to mush and my heart would be

bled out.

For his part, Father does much of what he’s always done; keeps far away from Mother

and her party-planning. But I know now that even if he doesn’t show it, he has his own opinions,

just the same as Mother. He may not voice them like she does, but he holds them all the same.

This is why I have a hard time talking to him now during the rare times we are in the same

Room. Sometimes I’ll see him at the corner of my eye, sitting at the head of the dinner table,

watching me over the top of newspaper, waiting for me to say something. But I look quickly

away and clamp my mouth shut because I know that a comment that reveals the extent of my

anger will escape it if I don’t. To see my father so quiet, so content to see me giving myself away

to a stranger, to know that this was his plan all along, hurts me far more than any of Mother’s

nasty, scathing words ever could.

Sometimes when I look away my eye catches Will’s. We look away quickly, or at least I

do, so I’m not sure if he does or not. Of all my relationships within my household, my

relationship with Will is the most complicated. He visits almost daily, sometimes even staying

in one of our guest rooms overnight. But despite his constant presence, I’ve barely spoken to

him since I accepted his proposal.

As soon as I heard Mother referring to me as a “lost cause,” I ran back out the door to

catch up to Will, sprinting most of the way up the street. He’s tall, almost six feet if not actually

six feet, so despite it only being a few minutes since we parted, he made surprising progress in

making his way back. I finally knew I would not catch him if he kept on going so I called out to

him. “Mr. Lane!”

I wondered if he would be able to hear me, as my voice was raspy and strained after

walking so briskly in heels. But after a moment, he paused and turned around to face me. It took

me a few beats to catch up to him, but when I came closer I could see a look of surprise on his

face. He waited until I could catch my breath before he spoke. “Are you alright?” Despite his

formality and abruptness, concern was etched on his drawn mouth and in his eyes, now turned to

a stormy grey from their usual clear silver shade, and his voice almost held, not a caress, exactly,

but almost a warm touch to it that softens its natural edge.

“Fine,” I replied once I caught my breath. He raised an eyebrow, waiting for elaboration.

Even though my mouth was dry I swallowed before continuing. “I’ve decided to accept your

proposal.” Nice, simple, straight to the point.

“The travel won’t be a burden to you?” He asked more for confirmation than with doubt.

“Not at all. I think the change will be suitable. Just what I need.” I hoped it didn’t sound

too self-interested.

If it did, I couldn’t tell by looking at him. He nodded. “Alright then.”

For a while, we stood in silence. Then he held his arm out for me. “We should go inform

your parents. Then I can ask your father, formally, for your hand in marriage.”

I laced my wrist over his arm without question. And that is how I became engaged to an

almost-stranger in one of the most unromantic ways possible.

It’s not as though it’s the worst way to become engaged. That description is probably

reserved for Society-arranged matches. And if I’m truthful with myself, what makes it the most

painful is that I feel as though I’ve been thrown away by my parents. I suppose I did expect to

look a little more put-together when I became engaged, not flustered from running. And I

thought that I would marry someone, maybe not who I loved, but who I was attracted to, who

excited me. Now, six weeks after my engagement, on the eve of my wedding, I don’t feel that I

know my fiancé any better than I did six weeks ago. My cousin and best friend, Della, notices

this almost as soon as she walks into the house.

“Kitty, Mr. Lane seems very stable and professional. I’m sure you’ll never have to worry,

Financially,” Della says after I’ve taken her to my room to show her my wedding dress after the

rehearsal dinner.

“I agree,” is my simple response since I know where she’s going with this. I turn to see

her hesitate.

“But he is awfully reserved, don’t you think? Not a bad thing, but he’s never, in a million

years, who I could have imagined you marrying.”

I shrug. “Like you sad, not a bad thing.”

“Yes, but I wonder how well you know him. You both seemed …distant from one

another at dinner, much more than I’d expect for an engaged couple.”

“I know that he can take me away from here. In that, he resolves all of my problems. I’ll

never have to worry about being taken care of, never have to be a burden to my parents.”

I say the word, burden, with an almost snarl, which I only notice when Della backs away

slightly. “I’ll never have to feel inferior in comparison to Doris again, and I’ll never, ever have to

hear one word about matches ever again.” I stop, realizing that my voice has risen considerably

since I started talking. Although I can’t see them, I can feel my cheeks burning with heat, and

can imagine how the scarlet of anger has painted my porcelain complexion red.

I take a deep breath, noting the fear in Della’s eyes. “Della, I’m so sorry.” I can hear the

tears in my weak apology, but am more surprised to feel one dribble down my cheek.

In that instant, sympathy replaces the fear in Della’s eyes, and she throws her arms

around my neck. I hold on tightly to her, as if doing so will allow me to hold on to our shared

childhood together for just a while longer.

“Sshh, don’t cry, you’ll spoil your eyes before your wedding.” Della stands back to talk

to me. “I have no right to question your motives, and certainly not to question Mr. Lane. He

seems kind enough, and a thoughtful, stable, professional man, as I’ve said before. You’ll never

have to worry about anything.” Her voice and words soothe me, and right on que, she envelopes

me in another embrace.

“I only hope that that will be enough for you.”

******

Those wistful words of Della’s play through my head as I stand before the Officiator at

my wedding the next day. It’s early summer, and despite the coolness of the Hall, my cream-

coloured silk and lace dress, fitted through my torso and hips, clings to my sticky skin.

Mercifully, my hair is pulled up with only an accent veil pinned to the back of my hair. I glance

Around, hopefully discreetly, at the wedding guests. My parents sit respectfully close to one

another, though they do not look happy to be that way. Della’s husband of three months, Roger,

gazes only at Della, who stands behind me as my maid-of-honour.

Della was lucky, she married for love, I remind myself as her words pass through my

mind again. She has no right to judge me.

Still, as I shift my gaze to Will, I can’t help but let my thoughts turn to Della’s words

once more. To get away from my parents and my home and my mundane life might just be

enough for me. But what about Will? Today he stands so still and serene, his eyes pools of

contemplative, but not worried, depth that I can almost believe that he actually does want to

marry me for other reasons than…

But what other reasons? Perhaps that’s why he leaves me so unsettled. I can marry

someone I do not know, but can I trust him? Can I trust his motives? And what are his motives? I

don’t offer him any more money than he likely already has, and while I have some attractive

features, I’m not particularly beautiful. So what then?

Before I can question any further, the Officiant directs the all-important question at Will.

“Do you, William, take Katrina to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

Will speaks firmly and solemnly. “I do.”

The Officiant nods before turning to look at me. “And do you, Katrina, take William to

be your lawfully wedded husband?”

I glance quickly at my parents, my father looking nervous, though I’m not exactly sure

what about, and my mother looking ready to smack me if I say no. My eyes find Will’s and I can

see in them what I saw six weeks earlier when we met at the party. There’s real softness and

kindness in them, even if I can’t always exactly read what’s behind them. If I run now, I may

never find that again.

So I try to speak with the same certainty as Will does, the same certainty that I accepted

his proposal with. “I do.”

 

 

 

 

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Author Interview: Rosanne Rivers

Hey All! Today, I got to interview the lovely and talented Rosanne Rivers, author of After the Fear (you can read my review here :  https://iluvhg.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/after-the-fear-book-review/)!!! Rosanne is one of the first authors I met when I started this blog over two years ago, and I’ve enjoyed chatting with her over social media and reading her excellent blog posts ever since. Here, Rosanne talks reading, writing, video games, and white chocolate cookies (yum!) Enjoy! :)

  1. What inspired you to write your novel?

Everything around me. England was in the middle of a recession, Facebook seemed to be invading its users’ privacy more and more, and there were riots right outside my door in Birmingham. According to the news reports at the time, another city near me, Coventry, was considering installing CCTV cameras which activated upon trigger words. So I took these things and imagined a future where we are all born into debt, mandatory social media and CCTV cameras. The Shepherds aren’t simply an evil government just out for themselves, but in the novel, they were voted in during a time of massive crisis, and took the measures they thought were needed to keep the country afloat. Usually, when that happens, those measures affect those with the least power, influence and money.

  1. What were the easiest parts to write?

The easiest scenes to write are the ones I’m most passionate about, I think. So the romance came very easily as I love the coupling, as well as scenes with Shepherd Fines because he fascinated me as a character – I wanted to know what he was going to do next! I find dialogue-heavy scenes exciting to write, because I think a lot of action goes on in between words or sentences. Most of the time when two people are talking, you can gather more about what’s going on/their relationship from their eye movements, hand gestures, whether they interrupt or not etc, than the actual words.

  1. What were the hardest parts to write?

Action scenes, definitely! It’s hard to balance the pace and the character’s emotions and voice with the actual events happening on the page. Fighting in itself isn’t that interesting; it’s what’s going on with the viewers; the expected impact of the fight vs the actual impact of the fight, and the change in outcome, which are the interesting things. And it’s tricky to capture all of that whilst keeping up a fast, engaging pace.

  1. What are some of your favourite YA novels?

Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore, Poison Study by Maria V Snyder, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. There are literally hundreds more that I love, but these are the first that sprung to mind.

  1. I have to ask (it is a dystopia blog): what are some of your favourite dystopian novels (or just one)?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, 1984 by George Orwell, and more recently, the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. I loved The Hunger Games too. I’ve just started reading Shatter Me which I have high hopes for!

  1. Favourite writing snack?

White chocolate cookies. I am addicted to them. It shows how much I revere them as when typing this I went to start each word with a capital letter. White Chocolate Cookies. Yum.

  1. If you could be any character in your novel, who would you like to be?

Probably Shepherd Fines as he’s the safest and doesn’t have to fight! Realistically I’d like to be Alixis because she doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

  1. What do you hope readers will learn from/ take away from your novel?

I don’t want to answer this because whatever anyone takes away from the novel is their interpretation of it, and that shouldn’t be affected by me! There are of course reasons why I wrote the book and ideals which I would take away from it if I was a reader, but I won’t bog you down with them.

9: You’ve mentioned that you’re planning a sequel to After the Fear. How is that going? Are you planning to extend it into a trilogy or series?

This is a tricky one. I originally wrote the book as a standalone, but after, I did start to plan a sequel. When I revisited it a year later, I felt like Sola’s story was complete. I am not planning a sequel at the moment, but I will never say never.

10: Are you working on anything else now?

Yes. I’ve finished a YA fantasy novel which I will keep you updated on, and I’m currently working on a YA Shakespeare retelling with magical realism elements. Oh and if you like computer games I also wrote the script to a brilliant indie word game called Highrise Heroes, which you should check out if you want to be addicted to your screen for a few weeks desperately trying to find a 9-letter word!

11: You have a degree in writing. In what ways do you feel that’s helped you in your writing?

It originally helped because it made me take writing more seriously. Merely by making that decision to get into debt and spend another year studying was a kick to actually do something with it afterwards. Aside from the motivation, it helped me to critique my work and also to take on-board criticism without going in a sulk. It helped technically as well, for example I didn’t know what an omniscient narrator was when I went onto the course. (And I still can’t say it). But I do think that if you have the motivation and are prepared to do a lot of independent reading, you certainly don’t need a degree to write.

Thanks for having me!

***************

Thanks so much for wonderful interview Rosanne!!! :)

Visit Rosanne online:

Twitter: @CityJuliet

Blog: rosannerivers.com

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The Painted Veil: Chapter 2

2

We walk slowly but deliberately, straight down the pristine sidewalks that line my Upper-Middle Position streets. We don’t look at each other, or talk, or try to cross the street, just move in the straight, clear line laid ahead of us. Walking with company doesn’t have the same cathartic effect as walking alone, and the silence is almost as painful as the awkward, small-talk filled conversations I’ve shared with other matches.

Finally, we get to the City Center, a bustling area filled with people. Mostly people with a High Position. Most of them are shopping, walking in and out of the stores that form the large circle of the center. We walk around the circle, staring into the store windows. At least I do. When I shift my gaze sideways to look at Will, I can see him staring straight ahead. In the very short time I’ve known him -known being a bit of a stretch, considering we only met the night before, and haven’t shared much conversation since-  haven’t seen him show much interest in anything. Despite his asking me to dance, and now for a walk, he barely registers interest. Compared to the intense interest and pursuit of other matches, this quietness and ambiguity of purpose is positively unnerving.

I see my chance to break the silence when we pass a shop with lace hanging in the windows. “Oh, how lovely.” I roll my eyes as I say it. I really couldn’t care less about lace. But it’s something that a proper lady should care about, at least according to Mother. When I turn around, I can see in Will’s eyebrows that my disinterest in lace is transparent.

“You have an interest in lace?” It isn’t a question; he’s calling my bluff.

I shrug, not wanting to show how uncomfortable I am; especially that he can read me so well. “Sure. I…” I think quickly, then decide to go with what comes the quickest to mind. “I like the patterns.”

“The patterns?” This time his tone doesn’t confront me, but urges me to continue.

“Yes,” I ease into it. “All the different patterns. We take them for granted, I think. But the patterns are so intricate, so complicated, it’s almost painful to look too closely to them.” I blush a little and swallow, thinking of what to say next. I hadn’t meant to say that much, hadn’t even known that I felt that way about lace. Usually, I tried to avoid thinking too deeply about anything. Why bother, when nobody takes anything women say or think about seriously?

“Go on.” It isn’t a command, despite his blank tone. When I look at his eyes, there is something that encourages me to go on.

Maybe I’m not the only one who tries to stay monotone because it’s easier.

“Well, I suppose it’s painful because of how hard the lace makers work,” I answer, taking the easy way out. In reality, I don’t know what makes it so difficult to look at, but everybody knows how hard tradespeople work, how years of doing intricate work leads to eyestrain and arthritis. Although it’s on my list of things I try not to think about, I certainly know about it.

“You feel for the plight of tradespeople?”  Will’s voice and expression are hard to read. He doesn’t seem to condescend or mock me for my concern, but he doesn’t necessarily give any indication of support for the working class himself. I decide to play it safe again.

“Who doesn’t?” I shrug.

“Oh, I could think of a few people. Society, mainly.” Will gives me a wry smile, and I can hear the closest thing to humour in his voice that I’ve heard since I met him.

“Yes, well, they’re hardly people, are they?” It’s probably the most honest comment I’ve made all day.

Will nods, and I wonder where this conversation is heading when I feel his hand in mine.

“Mr. Lane…” I adopt the formal name that we are supposed to use during the Courtship process. Part of me wants to snatch my hand away. Matches aren’t supposed to touch when not in the company of parents or chaperones, and not in motion. Yet the other part of me feels that he really hasn’t done anything wrong, not to me. And besides, it’s the most natural thing I’ve ever done with any of my matches.

“I’m sorry,” he looks into my eyes with sincerity, but doesn’t remove his hand. “This may seem fast, but I don’t have much time.”

What on earth is he talking about? I wonder, before he speaks again.

“You don’t really know me, and I don’t really know you. But I have spoken to you longer in these two meetings than I have any other matches. And I have never thought of any of those ‘matches’ as a true match for me.”

“Mr. Lane…” I try again, my voice cautious, warning, and questioning all at once.

“Please. Neither you nor I have much time. I am at the age of Choosing, and you are close to it. Besides that, I am moving to New Asia soon, to start a new post.”

Suddenly, I realize what he is suggesting. “You’re proposing to me.”

His ears colour slightly. “I suppose I am.”

“But…I don’t… know you.”

Will offers me the same wry smile as before. “And since when has anyone truly known anyone they married in the recent past?”

It’s the second blatantly true observation he’s made in the last ten minutes.

“I think you’d like New Asia,” he offers.

I consider this for a moment. My Choosing was always just another subject I’d tried to avoid thinking about. Could I live a life like my mother’s, the wife of a doctor? Could I spend my life planning mundane parties and trying to display a certain level of Position while maintaining a middle-class budget? Could I handle the mundanity of it, the everyday?

On the other hand, what choice do I have?

“Would you…would you let me think about it?”

Will shrugs in a manner that’s so indifferent, it’s as if he is asking me if I like sugar in my coffee, as opposed to one of the most important questions he would ever ask, and that anyone would ever ask me. “Of course. But I need to know soon. I’m due to start in New Asia in six weeks.”

Six weeks? Within seconds, I’ve gone from viewing my Choosing as some far off event, almost as if it would never happen, to something immediate. Within six weeks, I can be married, off to New Asia, and long gone from my parents’ home.

Long gone from my parents’ miserable home.

Long gone from my mother’s disparaging comments, from the constant lectures about how to be a proper lady, from the endless parade of matches.

But am I ready? Despite everything, my life had its own predictable routine. And what about love? Love and romantic feelings definitely aren’t a high priority to Society. They remind us that love is a nice addition, a nice side effect to marriage, but what is more important is to find someone. To be compatible, to share companionship and a partnership, a definite plus. Love is last on the list. Something that isn’t talked about, and doesn’t really factor into what marriage is about.

Still, I’ve heard about it. I know it exists. Not from personal experience. But I have heard about it. Maybe that’s why I’ve held out so long in finding a match, why I’ve risked a Society- arranged match. Because I’ve hoped that I could find love yet, that I could know what it feels like.

I question this all the way home, getting so deep in thought that I hardly notice when we’ve reached the front door.

“Please think about…about what I’ve asked you,” Will says, all traces of his dry humour gone. Now he is as awkward and formal as he was at the party the night before.

“I will.” I try to sound more together and less disconcerted than I am.

Will nods. “Well, Miss Garstin, thank you for your time.”

I give offer a light smile before I watch him walk away. Thank you for your time?

Nothing about that statement sounds romantic.

As I walk into the front hall, I hear the faint sound of Mother talking on the phone to my younger, married, sister, Doris. “Ah, yes Doris, pregnancy is a trying occupation to be sure.”

I roll my eyes. Only Mother could refer to pregnancy as an occupation.

“Kitty? No, still not serious about any matches. Well, that girl will dig her own grave that’s for certain. She’ll have to accept a Society-arranged match. A lost cause, that’s what she is.”

I freeze. A lost cause? I always knew that Mother didn’t have any real affection for me, but for her to be able to say it…

In the split second it takes for me to hear her, I make my decision. Who needs love? I think, my eyes stinging from repressed tears. What I need is to leave this house as fast as I can. Six weeks isn’t fast enough.

I remember what Will told me: “I think you’d like New Asia.”

I think you’re right, Will. I think I’ll like New Asia just fine.

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The Painted Veil: Week 1 (Chapter 1)

1

I stand at the back of the room, picking at the lace on my dress’s cap sleeves. I hate parties. In theory, they should be fun, but not Mother and Father’s parties. When I was younger, I actually liked them. Somewhat. Because of our Position in Society, we could afford to have nice parties, and show off a bit. But Mother doesn’t believe in spending money on anyone else. Why would she splurge on good wine, when nobody knows the difference between expensive and cheap alcohol? So we buy lots of cheap wine, keep it flowing, and by the end of the night, everyone is too drunk to tell any difference.

I lean back against the wall and cross my arms, looking over the crowd. Usually, after the party had kicked into gear, and no one would miss me, I would sneak away to the nursery to play piano. No one would hear. And if I made sure to sneak back down before the party was over, no one ever knew I was gone. Not even Mother and Father. Those days are done now.

My parents still use the parties as a display of wealth and Position, but they have other purposes now. And because those purposes involve me, remaining at the party, smiling and charming, is a requirement. I decide to track down a maid to get a glass of Mother’s wine, when I see him. Or, rather, he sees me as I nearly run into him.

“Hello,” he says.

He is about twenty-one. The age of Choosing for men. That’s how I know why he’s here. I still haven’t been chosen.

Since the plague, Society had managed to rebuild, the world becoming populated again. But since the Society wants to keep it that way, they’ve enforced The Choosing on us. Once every girl turns sixteen, she is eligible to be chosen. Technically, it’s not as easy as a man simply choosing her. He has to ask her. But most girls say yes. The Choosing is a time where people have a chance of actually finding someone they love, having children the normal way. If you are not chosen by the time you’re eighteen, you are assigned a spouse. Personally, I think that you are no better off with a Society-matched spouse than one you pick yourself. Most of the Society matches have test tube babies, which everyone knows is because they don’t really care for each other.

This man is no better looking than most of the acceptable matches Mother and Father have come up with, but then he’s no worse. He has dark blond hair, and eyes that are grey. Personally I couldn’t really care less what he looks like. All my potential matches have been boring, and I don’t think that he will be any different.

I look at him. His posture is straight, but something about the way he carries his shoulders suggests an awkwardness. I try to twist what I know is a scowl into a polite half-smile. “Hello,” I say, noticing how hollow it sounds.

He looks into my eyes with his grey ones. I have to say, I have never seen grey eyes quite the shade of his, silvery, yet almost charcoal like the sky before a rainstorm. “You… you are Katrina, aren’t you?”

I shrug. “Yes, I am. Kitty, if you’d rather. And you are?”

“William Lane. But most…most people call me Will.”

He’s quiet for a while, but he almost looks like he wants to say something. Formality and awkwardness are a natural part of the Choosing process, or so the Guidebook says. But I haven’t met anyone quite so formal and awkward yet. Part of me wants to ask him if he wants something, anything to break the silence, but part of me also sees a chance to sneak off and be by myself. I debate, and then decide to do the polite thing. “Is there something you were going to say?” I ask.

He almost shakes his head, “Kitty”- he sounds like he’s trying out my name- “would you like to dance?”

I consider this. At this moment, what I really want is to run from the whole stupid Choosing thing. I’m bored of Mother’s matches for me, bored of the matches’ lame formality, or obsessive adoration. A Society-issued spouse sounds good right about now. I look up at him, about to say no.

But then I look into his eyes. He may be just about the most boring, awkward match yet, but he doesn’t seem unkind. I can at least humour him for the moment.

“All right.”

Will looks surprised that I said yes. He stares at me for several, long moments, before I clear my throat. “You still want to dance?”

“Oh.” It’s as if I’ve broken a trance. “Of course.” He holds out a hand, waiting for me to take it. I place my hand in his, noticing its texture. It’s soft, but not as soft and perfectly manicured as some of the other matches’ hands. There’s a light roughness to them, and his nails are cut nearly to the quick. I wonder what he does. Most of my matches have perfect hands, as nice as a child’s, only cleaner. Hands that don’t likely do much, profession-wise.

“Um-hmm.”

I jerk my head up in the most unladylike way possible and blush. I’ve been so busy studying his hands that I forgot why I had mine in his.

He motions his head to the dance floor. “Ready?”

“Sure.”

Although, deep down, I wonder if I am ready; ready to spend another evening with one of Mother’s matches, ready to spend more time questioning whether this person was the one that I would end up choosing, or rather, having to choose.

But, deep down, I also know that I’ll have to be. Sooner or later, I won’t be looking at someone, wondering if they’ll be the one I’ll be stuck with for life. They will be the one I’ll be stuck with for life. And that will be my forever.

It’s that thought alone that fills my head as I dance with Will Lane.

*******

I’m picking at breakfast the next morning when Mother asks me.

“Kitty, that looked like quite the nice young man you were dancing with last night.”

I roll my eyes. If lying about who she’s invited as a potential match for me is her new tactic, it’s the worst one yet. I won’t give her that satisfaction.

“I suppose he was fine. And who was he, Mother?”

“How would I know?”

I look up at her. She sounds and looks genuinely surprised, like she really doesn’t know who he is. Nice try.

“Oh, come on Mother, you must know. He’s William Lane. You invited him, after all.”

Mother’s cheeks gather colour. “I certainly did not. I have no…”

“I invited him.” My father’s voice is quiet, but it cuts Mother’s words.

“Father, you invited him?”

“Well,” Mother huffs, “you could have at least told me. And where did you find him?”

“He’s a young doctor I work with, just graduated from his Training.” As Father speaks, I can feel myself groan. Is this how he sees me, stuck as a doctor’s wife?

“Kitty, he’s a good pick.”

My head snaps toward Father. “I never said he wasn’t.”

“But you’re thinking it.”

“Yes, well, I have five months left until I’m eighteen. Lots of time to decide.”

“But Kitty, you aren’t deciding. You don’t like any of your mother’s picks for you. They’re too dull, too obsessive, not handsome enough.”

“I’ve never mentioned that any of them aren’t handsome.”

“But you think that.”

I keep my mouth shut and let that drop, since I know that there’s some truth to his statement. But I still want to argue. “The whole idea that a woman should marry a man because he’s a ‘good match,’ and not because she actually loves him is old-fashioned. It’s stupid, Father.”

“But it’s the law. Like it or not Kitty, it is the law. He’ll be able to take care of you. You’ll keep a good Position in Society.”

“Why should I care about any of that?” I cry out in protest.

Mother is quiet. Unusually quiet. “Kitty, children cost money to raise, and grown girls even more so. The parties we’ve held to help you find a suitable match have been wasted so far. The sooner you’re married, the sooner you’ll have someone to take care of you. How long do you expect your father to support someone who obviously has no desire to be chosen?”

I gape at her. How can she say this? Of course I eventually have to be chosen, or have the Society choose for me. But that having me live with her for another five months is too much of a burden? I look to my father, hoping to see any sign of compassion. There is none. He looks at me pointedly, and even though he doesn’t voice it, I can hear him telling me that he agrees with my mother.

I bite my tongue until I taste blood, forcing back the tears that sting the back of my eyes. “If that’s how you feel – fine. I’m going for a walk.” I get up, and no one stops me.

I leave the breakfast room and head through the foyer to the door. I had never truly felt at home in our large home, and now I feel even less so. In just a few months, like it or not, I will be living somewhere else.

As I open the door I see him. Him, being Will Lane. He still stands with the same gawkiness as the night before.

“Oh,… hi,” I say.

“Kitty, hello. I…uh…” He stops mid-sentence and looks down at the floor. I’m not sure if he forgot what he was going to say, or he changed his mind. We stand for a few seconds without speaking. Then I know I need to break the silence.

“What?” I ask.

“Huh?”

“Sorry, but I thought you were going to say something.”

“Oh!” his cheeks colour slightly. “Yes, I was…was wondering if you’d like to go for a walk?”

Truthfully, with him I do not, although I was going for one myself. Then I hear shuffling not far behind me. Mother. I sigh. “Might as well. I was on my way out.”

“Oh…good.” Will stands aside so I can walk out before shutting the door for me. I will give him credit for being polite. Still, you can’t exactly build a life on politeness.

“So, where to?” He asks as we step off the porch.

Good question.

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The Painted Veil: Week 1 (Prologue)

Prologue

I sit by the window of our house-if you could call it a house. It’s more of a hut, really- looking out at the misty, cloudy landscape. I hate it here. It’s unbearably hot and muggy all day, before it drops to the cold, damp chill of night. At night it’s pitch black outside, but it’s almost preferable to the day, when all you can see are smog, and mist, and pollution.

“Wasteland,” I murmur to myself. “That’s all it is here. One big wasteland.”

I hug my arms to myself, feeling the stickiness of the humidity on my skin. It’s my fault I’m here, my entire fault. Nothing I can ever do will change it. And I’m trapped here with the one person who hates me the most in the world. The one person who should have loved me.

The one person who had once loved me.

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The Painted Veil, Dystopian Style: My New Weekly Series

Hey All!

You know how I’ve promised you that I had a project in the works that I would be able to show you soon? Well…soon is now!

Although it was top-secret at the time, I can now announce that I’ve been working on a dystopian YA novella based on M. Somerset Maugham’s The Painted Veil. Although I had originally planned to turn it into a free ebook, I’ve decided to release it chapter by chapter about every week or so for the next few weeks. The Painted Veil is one of my favourite movies, and although I’ve enjoyed the original novel, I always felt dissatisfied by it. The Kitty in the novel, a twenty-five year old at the beginning, seemed so childish at the beginning, then so suddenly knowledgeable and wise.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great book, but I always felt that Kitty suited a younger character, who is only just beginning her journey. Also, there’s no way you could work that novel into a modern context (or maybe there is, but  I honestly can’t see it), but I couldn’t help but wonder; what would happen if the bored, twenty-five year old Kitty was placed in the context of a trapped, feisty teenager? And what if the natural confines of a certain time period were swapped for the forced confines of a dystopian society?

Cue all the dystopia stereotypes in all their corny glory. You’ll notice that I do a lot of those, like capitalised “Society.” Keep in mind, although I wrote this with serious intent, this could qualify as fan fic. Also, keep in mind that I haven’t had this professionally copyedited, so there may be some grammatical issues. But I know you won’t mind, ’cause free reading, right?!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy. Feel free to read, comment, print off. Just DON’T take this of my blog and pass it off as your own . Good? Good!

XO,

Emily

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Spring Update

Hi All!

It’s spring! Can you believe it (I know I can’t)? It’s been a crazy term for me, which is probably why I haven’t been on here as often as I’d like. Right now I’m on a little break before going back for what I hope is my final term (happy dance). It’s bittersweet. I’m ready to move on to new things, but I know I’ll miss school as well.

Moving on from that, it’s exciting to see my life lining up. When you first graduate and turn eighteen, life can feel a little overwhelming. I finally feel like I’ve grown into myself, and that I know what I’m good at. It doesn’t mean I know everything, but it means that I feel that I’m right where I need to be. Deep exhale!

Moving on from that, I have exciting news! I’m a contributing editor at scifivision.com ! I’ve always loved this site and wanted to contribute, and now I am! I get to take conference calls, which is very exciting, and will also do some reviewing. Check it out! It’s an awesome site!

Remember that novella I told you all about? I’ve been looking it over and It’s almost done. That means that before you know it I can show it to you guys! Hopefully soon.

I’m also excited to announce that soon, I’ll be posting reviews for three new books, as well as an author interview with the fabulous Rosanne Rivers! Rosanne was one of the first author I met when I started this blog over 2 years ago, and is an awesome writer! I’m so excited to be interviewing her! Also exciting is Kiera Cass’s The Heir, out on May 5th!!!! Can’t wait!

Later Gators,

XO

Em

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