The always lovely (and sparkly) Tessa is hosting the Outside of My Box Blogfest in which participants are supposed to write something outside of the genre they usually write in. Outside of their comfort zone, if you will.
I have to say, I'm getting a little ho-hummy about all the YA and MG that's flooding the world. Not that I don't think young adults and mid-grade kiddos deserve really great stuff to read, because they do. And most of the stuff authors are writing in that genre is so good that even grown ups love it. In fact, there are a few authors I really adore in that genre myself. But there seems to be such a massive glut of it lately that I'm choking on it.
So of course for this blogfest I had to contribute to that genre. *grin* If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?
It's probably a serious stretch to say that YA is out of my comfort zone. It's not nearly as far out of my comfort zone as, say, horror. But I couldn't think of any horrible stuff to write. It's so far out of what I'm capable of writing I just can't think that way. Even for Halloween.
My contribution to Tessa's blogfest is actually a teaser for a YA series I've been mulling over for a couple of years now. I'm totally in love with the story but it's going to be so complicated I'll need to dedicate time to plotting and character development. And I've got a couple other projects in line ahead of it.
Anyway, the working title is "Last Tree on Earth" and this is a bit from the short story version I've already written. Setup: It's post apocalyptic/dystopian. Arcadia is the heroine. Auntie Willa is the tribal leader/shaman. It's kinda long, but I hope you like it.
Arcadia threw another pebble into the pond and tracked the ripples by the glint of moonlight as they drifted toward shore. Atop the largest boulder in a field of them surrounding the water, she sat with her legs pulled up to her chest, her chin resting on her knee. She threw another pebble, satisfied by the hollow sploosh as it hit the water.
“You know you’ll never be happy until you know what’s out there,” Auntie Willa said.
Arcadia jerked, “Auntie! You startled me.”
“You always sit up there when you’re dreaming about leaving.”
“My place is here,” Arcadia said, hanging her head.
“You’re of age, Arcadia. Sixteen already. A grown woman. So hard to believe how fast time disappears.”
Arcadia unfolded her long legs and slid down the side of the boulder, landing light on her feet next to Auntie. “I can’t abandon my people just because I’m curious,” she said, her tone gentle.
Auntie shook her head. “No, Arcadia, you’re special. It’s been a very long time since our people produced someone like you. For centuries all we’ve done is survive. Never asking questions. We’ve followed the tribal laws and it’s taken all of our energy just to live. But then you came along. You were a restless child, always eager to know more. You asked questions I had never heard before. Instead of keeping your head down and working hard, you were always looking up as if you wondered what was over the horizon,” Willa mused.
Arcadia slipped her hand into Willa’s and as they walked back to the village.
“I know I was a difficult child. I fought it as hard as I could. I didn’t want to be different, I wanted to fit in and be like everyone else. But I just couldn’t make the questions go away.”
“And that is what makes you so special.” They stopped at the fire ring in front of the long house. Willa took a seat on the bench while Arcadia sat on the ground at her feet. “Your favorite story was always ‘The Last Tree on Earth.’” Willa said, chuckling at the memory. “You had to know what a tree looked like, why were they gone, would they ever come back. How do we know there’s still one tree left if no one’s ever seen it? So full of questions!”
“I want to know if there are still other people in the world,” Arcadia said, frustrated. “The legends say that there used to be as many people as there are ants, or stars in the sky, or grains of sand on the beach. How can that be? There isn’t enough space! Where did they all live? How did they feed themselves? How did they breathe? What happened to them?”
“Well, the legends do say that there were more people on the Earth than stars in the sky, and that they were very needy indeed. They showed Mother Earth no respect. They poisoned her, raped her, tortured her until she could take no more. She bled for them and still they didn’t see. Until finally she realized they never would. She was heartbroken that her children had forgotten her and in her rage she loosed a plague upon them, killing them all,” recounted Auntie.
“Except our ancestors?” asked Arcadia.
“Yes, except our ancestors. They escaped the plague because she took mercy on them. They were a very small group who had been trying to show her they were beginning to understand. They begged her mercy, and she let them live,” said Auntie.
“But before the Mother let loose her plague, the people had used her up. That’s where the story of the Last Tree on Earth comes from,” Arcadia said, taking up the story. “Because the people used all the Mother had to give. They cut down all her trees to make room for themselves. They used up all her water and poisoned the air and soil so nothing would grow.”
“That’s right. But the legend says that somewhere, the Mother left one tree standing as a testament to what used to be,” Auntie said.
“I want to see that tree.”
Hope you enjoyed it!
See y'all at NaNo in a couple days. I'll be writing sci-fi there.