People, I have written a novella.
It’s a really short one, so it feels kind of weird to call it that (stories are typically categorized as novelettes until 17,500 words, mine just bumps over the 18K line), but that’s what it is.
It’s called “The Heartless Knight,” and it’s included in the wonderful queer fantasy anthology Heart of Steel. The anthology is officially out on Wednesday September 20th, but you can preorder it right now and get a bit of a discount, if you are so inclined.
So let me tell you a little bit about “The Heartless Knight,” and where it came from.
The story’s about Isi, a young man of color who has been a slave for most of his life and is now trying to navigate a world where he is not. He’s stuck between cultures, and pulled in different directions depending on what different people expect of him. He’s also aroace, and he is suffocating under the pressure of both performative masculinity and performative sexuality. He doesn’t know he’s suffocating. He’s just trying to be “normal.” But he doesn’t know how to do that.
Then he ends up on the run with a princess who forces him to confront all the things he’d rather hide about himself.
Isi has been a character in my head for quite a while now, one of those quiet ones who hides in corners that you don’t much pay attention to. For a couple of years now, I’ve been trying to write a novel about Anne, a character who you’ll meet briefly in “The Heartless Knight.” I was even making something like progress when I decided to finally settle down and work on it as a NaNoWriMo project…at least, until November 9, 2016 happened. Anyway, that project’s still going to happen some day. In some form. But like I said, Isi’s been on the edges of that in my head for a long time, and at one point I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be fun to write something to get to know him a little?
(It didn’t quite work like that. It never really does. I’ve been living in this piece for something like 18, 19 months by now. And it’s far, far different now than what I initially conceived it to be. Still, let’s go with BAM!)
“The Heartless Knight” was written mostly to alt-J’s “Nara,” which I ended up listening to on many repeats through the drafting process. Later, it was edited to a godawful amount of Sylvan Esso, particularly “Dreamy Bruises,” and “Coffee” (I don’t think you’ll necessarily find anything of those songs in the text, but I thought someone might find it interesting)
I’m more nervous about this one than I have been for a while. There are a lot of things that I need to get right and I don’t know if I fully suceeded. But it’s finally time to let it out in the world and let other people decide.
So that’s it. I hope you all like it!
Be sure to check out Heart of Steel and the rest of the great queer stories on offer from Less Than Three Press.