It seems to be a general understanding that writers are socially-awkward creatures. We’re in our heads, making up fake people and fake places and fake scenarios all the time, too wrapped up in our thoughts to be aware of the fact that there’s a real world out there, with real people in it.
Real people who might run into us and wonder if we’re not slightly off our rockers.
I was in the midst of writing Betrayal (Shifting Isles, Book 6) when I had a particularly awkward and embarrassing situation.
Because my brain-mouth connection is just awesome.
I was lying in bed one night, thinking about the plot, when an idea for a scene ran through my head. The dialogue and action played out just right, and I knew it would be a good addition to the story. But did I get up and immediately write it down? No. Of course not. Because I knew, I just knew, I’d remember it all the next morning.
I always do. Somehow, my writer memory is, by far, the most reliable part of my memory. Everything else falls by the wayside. But my stories? Stick like glue.
Except this time. This time, I woke the next morning, and had no fucking clue what the scene entailed.
I remembered an argument, but that was about it. It was something between the main character, Sam, and his fellow mage, Ithyn. But what they argued about, and why, completely eluded me.
Normally, when this memory lapse happens, it only takes a few minutes of thinking it over for the whole scene to come rushing back.
Nope. Not this time. This time, I agonized for hours. What the hells was the scene? What were they arguing about? Why couldn’t I remember?
I needed just a clue. A keyword. A hint. Something to bring it all back.
And, of course, being the awesome socially-awkward person I am, it all came to me in a public setting. Most likely work (since, let’s face it, where the hells else do I ever go outside my house?), possibly the grocery store, definitely somewhere that involved other people.
“Whore!” That’s it. That’s the keyword I needed.
And, of course, I said it out loud.
Cue the what-the-fuck looks from people around me.
And cue the furious blush on my face.
Yeah, y’all totally didn’t just hear me say ‘whore’ randomly just now. You imagined it. Totally didn’t happen. Wasn’t me. Carry on.
At least–thank gods–I salvaged the scene, but I definitely could have done without that particular moment of revelation.
So, without further ado, here’s part of the scene in question, in which Sam recovers from having taken an unknown substance from amidst the stock of herbs and drugs that Ithyn–a specialist in healing–keeps on hand. The scene references the Erosti Guildmates, who are renowned throughout the world of the Shifting Isles for being highly-trained professionals in all manner of entertainments (sex, massage, singing, dancing, cooking, etc.). To be particularly crass, they are–to some–nothing but glorified whores.
WHEN SAM came to, he found a blurry figure bent over him, swimming in his vision.
“Shhh-sh-sh. Do not move,” a voice murmured.
Sam tried to lift his head, then groaned and closed his eyes again.
“Drink this,” the soft voice said as a hand slipped around the back of Sam’s neck and cradled his head, lifting it slightly as a cup was touched to his lips.
Sam drank, and gagged, but the person holding the cup wouldn’t let him stop. The foul concoction was forced into his mouth, so Sam had no choice but to swallow as quickly as possible or choke.
Finally, the cup was taken away and Sam’s head was rested back down. Panting, Sam blinked heavily several times before his vision began to clear and he was able to make out Ithyn leaning over him.
“Gods all around, Samril.” Ithyn sighed, gently pressing his wrist to Sam’s forehead. “What were you thinking?”
Sam tried to answer, felt his stomach lurch in response, and shut his mouth again.
Ithyn shook his head. “You nearly killed yourself, do you realize that?”
Sam’s eyes went wide, but he still couldn’t speak quite yet. Killed myself? What the hells did I take?
Ithyn continued looking him over, checking his pulse, examining his eyes and tongue, feeling the glands under his jaw, then sat back with another sigh. “Thank Kalos, I was able to determine which powder you took. Why did you not simply wait for me? I might have been able to assist you with…whatever it was you were attempting to accomplish.”
“Needed,” Sam whispered, testing his voice, “an escape.”
“Oh, Sam.” Ithyn sighed. “But to take your own life?”
Sam slowly shook his head, thankful the room didn’t spin when he did so. “Wasn’t my intention.”
“What was your intention?”
“Just…a break. A little break from the world.”
“And you used that?” Ithyn asked incredulously.
Sam shrugged and slowly sat up. He found himself on the sofa in Ithyn’s sitting room, not far from where he’d collapsed on the floor. “It did say For Master Shyford.”
Ithyn gave him a puzzled look, then glanced over at the table where all the herbs were arranged. He gave an exasperated sigh and shook his head. “That note had nothing to do with the powders. It was for the books I placed in your room the day you arrived, and I simply forgot to discard the note. Besides, you had my jars all out of arrangement, anyway. How could you possibly match the note to one of them?”
Sam felt the tips of his ears go red. He really had made a bad assumption there.
“The blue one looked like–”
“Like what?” Ithyn asked when Sam broke off and fell silent.
Sam shook his head. Father’s love, I’m an idiot. He knew herb lore was not his strong point. “Looked just like the drug the Guildmate gave me.”
A puzzled look flashed across Ithyn’s face before it gave way to a stony expression. “I see,” he bit off. Then he was silent for a moment before he suddenly jumped up from his perch on the edge of the sofa and went over to the table, roughly rearranging the bottles and keeping his back to Sam.
Sam slowly sat up, testing his body for any further pain or dizziness, and turned to look at Ithyn. “Did I say something wrong?”
Ithyn paused his movements, gave a tight shake of his head, and went back to whatever he was doing.
Sam stood. “Ithyn, look, I’m sorry I messed with your bottles there. I just–”
Ithyn whirled on him. “You know, when you cavort with whores, you are no better than one yourself.”
Sam’s eyes went wide. “Excuse me? You’re calling me a whore?”
“You have been with one,” Ithyn accused. “You admitted as much yourself.” He paused and gave Sam a quick once-over. “And more than once, if I had to guess.”
“He’s not a whore!” Sam threw up his hands.
Ithyn clasped his hands before himself, the posture on him somehow more threatening than if he’d crossed his arms over his chest. “Does he accept payment in return for bodily pleasures?”
“Whore,” Ithyn reiterated, and turned back to his jars and bottles.
Betrayal (Shifting Isles, Book 6) is now available on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle formats!