“King Under the Mountain” Excerpt

I have been a bad blogger! The truth is that I simply have not the time. Several months ago, I quit submitting articles to online publications and covering nerd news, for several reasons.

My time is packed with volunteer work at (now 2!) museums, finishing up my undergrad degree in Art History Criticism & Conservation (with a focus on Asia- specifically China), working in an office that assists the hearing impaired, and pursuing fiction writing. I have begun submitting stories to anthologies and have been working seriously on a novel. I have ideas for more, but as a first complete endeavor, I’m very proud of King Under The Mountain. It has at least a year to go before I attempt to release it, self-published, but I’m proud of the world I have created and love running around in it with my characters.

The book’s setting is split between the spiritually important city of Gray Haven and the city’s charge, Barrowmount, a millenia old burial ground. High King Derwynn Danswinder, the CryptKing of Barrowhill, is the youngest of five children, and the sole surviving member of his immediate family. At 9 years old the title fell to him, and at 12 he must now take up his role as King in Gray Haven while the rest of the kingdom falls apart into civil war around him.

It was important to me that King Under the Mountain include characters of more complex background than the white, heteronormative culture pervasive in fantasy. While the protagonist is indeed white, male, and heterosexual, he is surrounded by a diverse cast of characters that continuously force him to question his role in his own culture, and its place in the future. Ultimately, it is a coming of age story.

The falcons of Danswinder Hall.

I’ve decided to post as excerpt from one of my favorite chapters from the book I’m working on. Enjoy,.. or don’t!


Under the Mountain

An indeterminate amount of time passed. Derwynn felt tired and sore. Suddenly, the Ghoul stopped and crouched. She pulled Derwynn down by the sleeve.

“What-” he was cut off by her hiss. It was a short, silencing sound.

There was a clicking coming from somewhere to their right. He was sure of it. Then it sounded from behind them. She leaned close to him.

“You hear it?”

He nodded.

It switched back and forth from right to rear, never sounding as if it got closer, or farther away. “Never from the left,” she hissed, then nodded her head. He inclined his. “Count to three,” she said, then tamped out the torch. A whirring had begun as he counted in his head. As it crested behind them he turned and ran to the left as fast as he could.

Arms outstretched, he felt wildly for anything in the darkness. Just as his fingers grazed something, it occurred to him that there could be a drop off anywhere. He had never been this deep in the mountain. No one had. Except whatever built this: bjergtrolde or giant.

He found a wall and crouched against it. The Ghoul groped for him in the darkness, and crouched beside him. The whirring got louder, and then there was air pattering against his face. Soft, at first. The force multiplied.

Dozens of little claws and leathery wings and teeth found them. They beat against them, paused, alighting on the pair where they could, then scraped their way upward and elsewhere. At some point, Derwynn found he was screaming. Yelling against the torrent of creatures.

Then it was over. The air left behind fluttered. Soft currents swirled above them. He closed his mouth. The Ghoul heaved breath next to him. The stone was still cold.

Somewhere far away, there was the sound of stone scraping against stone. And then silence.

Excerpt King Under The Mountain

 a novel by Josephine Maria