This is it: release week! And I...I'm floundering. It doesn't feel right to act as if the world is normal. To treat promoting a book as the most important thing to be doing. Yet when I look through the themes in Mother of Souls, I think perhaps it does have some resonances for these times. Here's something I posted on Twitter. Is it just me justifying myself?
Why in the world would my book be worth talking about at a time like this? Well, here are a few reasons I can think of. It's a story about queer women supporting each other in times of trouble. It's about finding common cause across differences. Mother of Souls is about facing a disaster bigger than you are, and deciding it's still worth the risk to tackle it. Mother of Souls is a story about how not all your allies are friendly and not all your friends are allies. And you move forward anyway. It's a story about recognizing the potential and the strengths of people unlike yourself and making your best effort to reach out. Mother of Souls recognizes both the power and the failings of love and family. It's a story that embraces diverse characters across religious, class, and racial barriers, wihtout ignoring those historic forces. That is why I can still bring myself to think it's worth offering my books to the world. Even in these times.
Or, as Serafina says to Luzie when they realize the potential her music holds: “Tanfrit has just gone into the waters. Nothing will ever be simple after that.” It isn't simple. It never was simple. No way out but forward. And the opening of the next chapter scheduled for a teaser echoes how I feel.
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Chapter 20 - Jeanne
The sky cracked open with a blaze of lightning as they crossed the border into the low, forested hills of Helviz. The coachman called down that he’d try to make Pont-Sain-Pol before dark. Jeanne relaxed into the cushions. The fury of the storm was nothing to the tense suspicions of the soldiers in the past week on the road. Travel papers that should have seen them safely through the morass of jurisdictions between Bayreuth and Strasbourg had been questioned at every turn and they had only once made the mistake of mentioning the nature of their visit to Prague. The closer they came to Alpennia the sharper the looks. What would Antuniet have done without her to coax and cajole? But Antuniet had done this before, and very much alone. Jeanne glanced over and saw her staring pensively out the window where rain lashed the glass into impenetrability.
“Are you thinking of the last time?” Jeanne asked.
Antuniet’s head turned from the window. “The last time?”
“That you traveled this way,” Jeanne said. “The last time you returned home.”
“No,” Antuniet said. And then, “Yes, I suppose. It’s different this time, but there’s still that uncertainty. Will my project succeed? What will the reception be?” She looked back toward the window. “That’s no natural storm. No wonder the people back in Les Bains were frightened. What have we come back to?”
Jeanne took her hand. That much, and no more. Toneke hated to be fussed over, and yet she longed to fuss. Throughout the whole journey she’d wanted to offer comfort when it might not be wanted, or even needed. And, of course, Marien was perched on the forward seat, studiously not seeing anything she wasn’t meant to see.
Not all of Antuniet’s outward calm was for show. When it came to the central purpose of this journey, she had made her calculations, weighed her choices, and set out with eyes open. Perhaps it was enough to be here, beside her, accepting those choices.