Location: Somewhere in a near magical forest in northern Alabama.

Where the Darkness Has Teeth, and Other Writerly Things by Nerine Dorman

ND imageThis may not have been an incredibly exciting year with regard to novel releases, but I’ve a fair amount to celebrate with my short fiction, which just goes to show that perseverance pays off at the end. Truth be told, there’s something rather exciting about receiving a hard copy of an anthology in the mail – and one such has definitely been my appearance in Tor Books’ Midian Unmade anthology. (http://www.amazon.com/Midian-Unmade-Tales-Barkers-Nightbreed/dp/0765335425)


The call for submissions came out a while ago, and I’ve always been a fan of Clive Barker’s offerings. How hard could it be to write something?


I was fortunate. The plot nugs struck at exactly the right spot, and after I finished rereading Cabal, I plunged right into the dark, dark world of Midian. When I received my acceptance I exclaimed so loudly my work colleagues just about thought I’d been bitten by… Well. Something.


I guess what I’m trying to say is that what this post *doesn’t* tell is the amount of blood, sweat and tears … and the many, many rejections that went into reaching that point where I’ve started having some wonderful acceptance letters. It’s taken *years*.


If you’re reading this, and you’re an aspiring writer, my advice is don’t ever give up. Keep going. Read as much as you can. Practice your writing, and keeping submitting. Grow rhino skin for those rejections. Don’t stop. If this is your passion, then don’t let anything stand in your way to succeed.


DBTIn keeping with the spooky theme of Halloween, I’m going to share an excerpt from my dark fantasy novel Dawn’s Bright Talons, which takes my favourite supernatural creatures into a world all of their own.


There was a small park nearby, popular for lovers’ trysts, and I made for it now. I’d surprised my meals here numerous times though I tried not to make my stalking a habit. Tall willows trailed branches into the slow-moving current, the water obsidian. Toads rasped in the undergrowth and, when I passed one of the many fish ponds, several of the amphibians plopped into the water-hyacinths that clotted the surface.


Twice I encountered couples too absorbed in each other to notice the shadow that slipped past them. They weren’t what I was looking for.


I paused by the statue of some nameless prince and stretched my senses. Here, among the greenery, the sounds of Ysul were muted. Instead a warbler called, three sharp descending notes ending in a liquid trill. River silt, green vegetative decay and there…the heat of humanity. On silent feet I stole along a meandering side path I knew terminated in a small grotto.


A young man waited here. Alone. I froze, screened by a tangle of tree ferns.

He was no older than sixteen, if I judged correctly, and he paced restlessly from the stone bench to the grotto then part of the way up the path. His face was smooth and oval, and skin milky in the dim light emitted by the low gas lamp not far off. Expressive eyes. Lips slightly pouting.

Tailored trousers and a fine silk shirt marked him as someone belonging to minor nobility, obviously slumming it. His dark brown hair hung loose about his face and brushed his shoulders to partially obscure the tilt of his neck.

“Damn, where are you?” he muttered when he stopped to straighten his shirt.

I bit my lip and thought of his blood, hot and rich as I lapped at the puncture wounds I would make. Not yet. I clenched my hands. Even from here I smelled him, the light muskiness of a young male in his prime. His flesh would be firm to the touch, holding the warmth mine lacked. My cock hardened as I considered how it would feel to run my hands over his chest and down his thigh then toward…

No. I must remain focused. I was here to hunt. Not for bedroom play. Though he was beautiful, and I could only wonder who’d stood him up.

A movement to my left, near dense reeds by the riverbank drew my attention. I stood very still and caught a faint whiff of damp rot. Sewer dweller. I almost hissed. This was my hunt. Torn, I glanced to the boy then back to the lurking figure. To have gone to all this trouble, only to have an interloper interrupt me.

Some quirk of fate decided the outcome. A woman called from some distance away. “Francois!” and the boy jogged past my hiding place.


“Heloise!” he replied. So intent was Francois on his goal that he went right past my hiding place without seeing me.


As soon as he was out of earshot, I did allow myself to hiss, and I focused my ire on the other vampire who was now well aware of my presence. He stood frozen.


Territorial scraps between Ysul’s vampires and the outcast sewer dwellers were mercifully few and rarely bloody, but my anger at having my concentration broken drove me to confront the creature. By unwritten law, he was outside of his ‘allowed’ territory and, therefore, fair game.


I shoved the reeds aside and halted three paces from the interloper.


The unfortunate must’ve been no more than ten when it was changed, but it was impossible for me to determine its gender. Its clothing was a soggy mess of rags carried on a bony frame. Large eyes were set in a pallid face with too-large mouth, its bloodless lips pulled back in a silent snarl. “Blood lord.” Its accompanying hiss slithered terror down my spine. I did not like the look of those teeth. There were too many, too long and sharp, like that of a fish.


I stepped back, now unsure of the wisdom of my approach. “Terribly sorry,” I said even as I entertained visions of its fangs sinking into some soft part of my flesh. I backed up a few more paces.


“The blood tide is rising. You’ll all die and the city will be ours again.”


My hunger retreated, and Ezekiel’s company seemed far more appealing than the inconvenience of having to set out on another hunt. I was in no mood to hang about and suffer a sewer dweller’s threats. Even if they were backed up by a bite that would rival that of a rabid dog. At this moment I despised myself for my cowardice.


Buy Dawn’s Bright Talons at Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Dawns-Bright-Talons-Nerine-Dorman/dp/1941408036 or Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/454499


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