Cue fanfare for an exciting announcement!

YukaI am absolutely delighted to announce that I now have an agent! Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services has taken on me and Kitty and Cadaver – and the planned future books in the series – as of November 2014.

I’ve known Alex for some years, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that she loved the book and wants to find a publisher for it. It’s also wonderful to not have to worry about that side of things. I can get on with plotting and then writing the next Kitty and Cadaver novel – with its working title of Ravens and Rivers – while Alex does all that hard graft of getting publishers interested.

The first three chapters are still online here if you want a taste of the book, and of course the side projects of the jewellery made from broken instruments, the songs for each chapter and (we hope one day) the comic book Demon of the Earth, are still being done in collaboration with fabulous artisans, musicians and artists.

I’ll keep blogging here about the elements of the project and of course news, if and when it comes, of a publisher!

– Narrelle M Harris

 

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Kitty & Cadaver: Not the Zombie Apocalypse – update

YukaHello all,

I know the blog has been quiet lately, apart from the upcoming Bend and Snap Market post. I’ve been in the process of seeking an agent and/or publisher for Kitty, and for the second Kitty novel I was recently researching in London.

In preparation for the whole agent/publisher business, I will soon be taking all but the first three chapters of the novel off the site.

I will continue to post about Kitty related things, though – the jewellery, the music project (which has stalled but not stopped) and, I hope, other things as they come to pass.

Thank you all for joining me and Kitty on our journey so far – and I hope you’ll be with us as more of our plans come to fruition!

-Narrelle

Songs: Bury My Heart by Narrelle M Harris and Jess Harris

Alex sings only the chorus of this song in Chapter Six, which he wrote some years before for his boyfriend, Kurt. Here’s the song in full.

 

I’m running untethered
Across the planet’s skin
Fighting to keep all the
Demons in
My friends at my back
My love by my side
I’ll fight the good fight
Till the devils or I
Have died

My voice is my armour,
Blade and shield
These words, these tones
Are a weapon I wield
They herald our war
Lament what we’ve lost
And they give comfort
When we count
The cost

And we have no home
But the places we stay
Anchored awhile
And we sleep where we may
Our burdens are heavy
And the light is grey
So when the end comes
my home
Is wherever
you bury my heart.
wherever
you bury my heart.

Know that while it beats, this vital organ,
Every breath that inhales oxygen,
And blood I shed, it’s all for you
Bury my heart when I’m dead and done
My soul is yours and it lives on
It lives on

And we have no home
But the places we stay
Anchored awhile
And we sleep where we may
Our burdens are heavy
And the light is grey
When the end comes my home
Is wherever you bury my heart.
wherever you bury my heart.

New to Kitty and Cadaver? Find out about the project in About Kitty and Cadaver or start from chapter one at Read the Book.

Story Told 1: Wieliczka Salt Mine – another story!

In Untold Story 1, I invited readers to give me their ideas of what happened to one incarnation of the band down in the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Krakow. The first story in response was by Sally Koetsveld – and today we have a new take on it from Yvon Hintz, who last week gave as a Story Told for Hungary’s Goblin Park.

Wieliczka salt mine (1)Breath of God

Although the site itself was new, workers were convinced that there was  something old and evil in the Royal salt mine in Wieliczka. They said that it lived in the underground lake and caused a feeling of unease throughout the galleries.  Although work was going on as normal the men were unhappy and fearful  which meant that production was not as good as it could have been.

Johannes and his band had come to the attention of one of the owners of the Polish salt mining company. He learned that the musicians were not only creators of pleasing music but that there was magic in their songs and rhythms… magic that could overcome evil. He had heard of them defeating a vicious dragon in neighbouring Bohemia and thought they might do some good in the mine… either soothing the disturbing presence or driving it out.

They felt something as soon as they entered the mine. Agnes, the most sensitive of the group, said that it was an ancient evil with great power. It was dangerous, but also lazy… it didn’t want to move. Johannes wanted to tell the mine owners to let it lie but Agnes assured him that if left, it might one day become so annoyed by the workers that it would rise up in anger and kill someone. Better, she said, for them to raise it now and deal with it.

They began to play. Johannes tapped his drums, Hugo played the violin, Agnes plucked her dulcimer, young Galfridus blew on a gemshorn and Maud sang a chant that wove between the music, pulling all the sounds into a harmonious whole.  The music shimmered off the grey walls. It was heard by the workers in the galleries, it was heard by men carving a statue  and it must have been heard by anything sentient in the waters of the lake, but it caused no response.

Galfridus suggested they add something new to the mix. He had bought an odd instrument from one of the mine workers, who had purchased it in a distant land but found himself unable to master it. It was based on the simple goat skin and flute arrangement made by farmers but with  a better bag and flute and several drones. It was badly out of tune, but he had worked on it and now it produced a sound so sweet that he had named it Breath of God.

Breath of God, when Galfridus first fired it up, caused the musicians to cover their ears in torment, but as the pressure in the bag built and the sounds from the drones and the chanter came into harmony with each other it became less noise and more recognisable music. The sound… a cross between a violin and a flute… skirled through the mine and was heard even by people as far away as the village.

Johannes agreed that  when properly played it did produce a rich, full sound with intriguing harmonies and that it was most definitely loud enough to wake the dead, but thought that on this occasion it might be better if they stuck with their tried and true instruments.  Galfridus packed away the Breath of God.

They renewed their effort till at last the lake began to stir. The waters rippled, the air seemed to throb and a deep groan shuddered through the mine. Agnes told them that it was awake and aware. A quiver crept into her voice as she added that it was very, very strong.  Johannes looked at his little group and wondered if their power would be enough to contain the ancient evil they were about to call forth.

He would later blame himself for this moment of doubt for in that moment something burst from the lake and an invisible force swiped at the five musicians. Agnes and Maud shrieked as they were knocked down, Hugo cried out for the safety of his violin and Johannes himself gave a cry of pain as he was flung bodily from the shore of the lake to hit the wall. His head cracked against the rock hard salt and he felt his senses begin to leave his body. Fear coursed through him. Without him… without all of them playing, the thing they had just let loose would be free to leave the lake and roam and kill. What had they done? He tried to lift himself up but his limbs refused to move. He could only watch in helpless horror as the unseen evil battered his comrades around the chamber. He feared they would all be killed.

Maud tried to sing even as she took refuge behind a barrel, but there was a quaver in her voice that ruined the magic. Hugo cradled his violin and tried to draw the bow across it strings. His arm was battered away from the instrument. Agnes saw her beloved dulcimer mashed into splinters and a tangle of strings.

Then Galfridus rose with the bag of Breath of God tucked under his arm. The steady drone of multiple, tuned pipes filled the air, quickly joined by the higher, complex tones from the chanter.  The ground beneath them shuddered and the lake waters heaved as the thing protested.  Galfridus took a step toward the lake, something howled objection, he took another step and the groan became a shriek, he walked slowly and steadily and the Breath of God seemed like a wall of sound that matched the ancient forced and pushed against it…. pushing it back little by little toward the lake. The water splashed and heaved, then settled, rippled and was still.

As he was being carried from the mine Johannes heard young Galfridus boasting about the power of the Breath of God. He told him that he had done well and had probably saved their lives, but that he should pack away the instrument because there was a good chance that the miner who had owned it, had tried to play it while at work and that it, in fact, had been the thing that had originally roused the ire of the ancient in the lake.

– Yvon Hintz

Yvon is a writer and artist from WA. Read/see her work at Word Cafe: Yvon HIntz.

Kitty and Cadaver is the latest incarnation of a band that began in England in 1267. Their mission? Protect the world from the things that hide in the dark, using magic through music. The Untold Story posts show fragments of their 700 year history. The details have been lost in time – so I invite you to imagine what the story could be.

Stay tuned for the next Untold Story!

New to Kitty and Cadaver? Find out about the project in About Kitty and Cadaver or start from chapter one at Read the Book.

Story Told 2: Goblin Park

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn Untold Story 2, I invited readers to tell me about the ivy-choked ‘Goblin Park’ in Keszthely, Hungary. Yvon Hintz’s writes about an earlier incarnation of The Band, and their encounter with angry spirits among the trees…

Goblin Park

They were tired from a night of fighting a nest of demons that had infested a house but they had promised to entertain at the festival in the little market town of Keszthely on The Balaton. So they found the strength and played lively music to entertain the people. The laughter and the music revived them somewhat in the course of the evening but tiredness soon returned and when the festivities ended, they still had to get home. A travelling music group rarely had money to spare and that night was no exception; they could not afford to hire a carriage. They had to walk and the quickest way to their lodgings was across the town, through a dark, wooded area with unsettling feelings.

They were surprised half way along the path through the trees by the appearance of a young woman and her statement to them that there was magic in music. They could not disagree… using the magic of music to fight the evils of the world was what the band was all about. She had heard them play and understood their power and asked for their help to free her lover from a grove in the wood. Had been killed by an older man who had thought that she was his to marry. That man had then died and in his spite his spirit had moved into the wood where she and her lover and first met and sang and loved and been so happy. He vowed they would never be happy there again.

Her heartfelt plea could not help but soften the hearts of the musicians and tired though they were they took out their instruments and began to play and to sing and to tap out a rhythm that would induce the wayward spirit of the man to leave the grove and allow the young man’s shade to go to its natural place in the world hereafter.

But there was something not right. The evil seemed stronger than they had expected, its hold on the wood more tenacious than even their weariness would have predicted.

They played, they sang, they sat on the ground to stop themselves from falling down in dead faints and still the evil kept its grip.

Their leader, an older man, one whose years had given him wisdom as well as experience, suggested they change their mode of attack to one less headlong. ‘Sing to the plants’ he told them- make the wood itself do their bidding to hold the evil in its leafy arms.

The trees bent, the grasses rippled and whispered to their command and vines began to grow and snake across the ground. With a sigh of wind through the leaves the wood expelled the spirit that had held it in thrall. The man was angry. He railed at the group… he cursed the girl… he renewed his vow to make sure that she and her lover were never happy in this place.

They intensified their singing and their music but they could not get the man’s spirit to leave and he was strong, seeming to draw power from trees and rocks. In spite of his power, however, another spirit appeared – that of a handsome young man. The girl gave a happy cry and ran to him and the band almost faltered in their playing and singing as the pair met and melded in spiritual union. It had not occurred to them till that moment that she was in spirit also.

The pair had eyes only for each other and the musicians smiled as they expected them to fade and disappear into the world beyond where they belonged. But something was still not right. The evil they sensed in this place was still with them, still powerful, and it was not all coming from the vengeful shade.

It was the youngest member of the band who realised the truth. She played her flute and while she played images and visions would sometimes come to her. The vision that came to her now, which she quickly shared with the others, was that the lovers were not entirely innocent. When the older man had become too much of a irritant to their plans they had murdered him and laughed as they wrapped his body in cloth and rocks and threw it into the lake and then laughed again as they came to this wood to enjoy this place they had claimed as their own. When they eventually died he had captured their spirits and kept them with him in the wood.

With an understanding of the situation now, the group felt renewed strength of body and will. They played harder, they tapped and sang and the plants that had been for so long tolerant of the spirits in their midst turned against them, trapping them, holding them, preventing them forever from moving on, leaving them together in their own green hell.

If they had not been so tired the group might have tried to clear the place completely, but their beds called and dawn was coming and they felt that justice had been done. Perhaps, some time in the future another incarnation of the band would find the wood and finish the job.

– Yvon Hintz

Yvon is a writer and artist from WA. Read/see her work at Word Cafe: Yvon HIntz.

Kitty and Cadaver is the latest incarnation of a band that began in England in 1267. Their mission? Protect the world from the things that hide in the dark, using magic through music. The Untold Story posts show fragments of their 700 year history. The details have been lost in time – so I invite you to imagine what the story could be.

Stay tuned for the next Untold Story!

New to Kitty and Cadaver? Find out about the project in About Kitty and Cadaver or start from chapter one at Read the Book.

Guest blog: Alexandra Pierce’s Rock ‘n’ Read – Rock On

RockOn_lg_largeAlexandra Pierce is a teacher, reviewer and podcaster. She interviewed me recently on her Galactichat podcast and is one of the fabulous women behind Galactic Suburbia.

Rock music has a lot to answer for. Hairstyles, twerking, blasted eardrums… and a lot of fiction. Paula Guran hasn’t collected quite all the rock’n’roll inspired short speculative fiction in Rock On, but she’s had a good crack at collecting some of the best.

These stories involve music creators, players, fans and management; they’re set now, back then, and sometime soon. While most of the stories definitely stand pretty all by themselves, there are also some clear patterns that develop when music is a guiding force.

Can music save your mortal soul? (Sorry, it was inevitable.) Howard Waldrop’s Flying Saucer Rock and Roll suggests maybe it can try, and maybe it will fail but the trying is worth it – music is always worth it. Bradley Denton’s We Love Lydia Love paints music creation as a necessary catharsis for a tortured soul. On the flip side, the old Robert Johnson selling-your-soul-for-fame story is a natural one for speculative fiction to take up, and is reflected in Elizabeth Hand’s and Graham Masterson’s very different stories.

Bruce Sterling in We See Things Differently suggests a horrible kind of salvation through music, but also destruction – which is another major theme of music + fantasy or science fiction: music, and its creation, has a dark side – which critics (not the magazine ones but the ones that don’t understand) have always feared. Michael Swanwick’s The Feast of Saint Janis fulfils all those fears of rock music bringing out the animal in people, possibly taking a line from the ancient play The Bacchae by Euripides, and also plays on the two-sides-of-one-coin nature of salvation/destruction.

Greg Kihn and Poppy Z Brite take the darker line too, especially riffing off the sometimes fevered connection between music and performer, while Edward Bryant’s Stone and David J Schow’s Odeed go to the nth degree in the performer-crowd feedback loop. Del James’ Mourningstar has the sort of music that makes Alice Cooper look like Pat Boon.

Technology has long been an intimate part of rock and roll, from Bob Dylan’s controversial electrification to Japan’s vocaloid stars such as Hatsune Miku. Bryant’s story plays on the danger of technology in music, as does Pat Cadigan in Rock On. Alastair Reynolds’ At Budokan doesn’t play on technology in music so much as using external technology in order to create the Next Big Thing (and I do mean create, and big, in the most literal sense).

And then there are the stories where music is the great definer of culture, where life revolves around music and if you don’t get the references then you just don’t fit. F Paul Wilson has a time traveller using music to get rich, creating a rather dangerous feedback loop of sound, while Mercenary by Lawrence C Connolly imagines music as pure manipulation. John Shirley posits a time when your preferred music is your identity – and, of course, whether you can change that.

In Charles de Lint’s That was Radio Clash, the music isn’t inherent to the story but it is vital to the world-building. And when rock music is seen as dangerous, you just know that those young uns will do anything to hear it: thus, Lucius Shepard’s … How My Heart Breaks when I Sing this Song….

This anthology has magic and aliens and Loki; the past and the future; successful America and America destroyed; music as solace and music as destruction. It references Bob Dylan, Jeff Beck, Goethe, the Clash, Janis Joplin, the Five Satins, and bands that have never existed. Paula Guran, in her liner notes, quotes from music critic Nat Hentoff to show the similarities between rock music and speculative fiction: they both “make up lies that tell us something about the truth of being human.”