Sample pages from RUMLANDS at the Vermont Studio Center’s Staff Art Show

Will and I had a joint piece in the Vermont Studio Center’s staff art show, which ended today! It’s an excerpt from “The Artificers”, the second chapter in our illustrated speculative fiction novel RUMLANDS.

“We’d best save the rest of the Harrow Quarter for tomorrow,” Ensley said as they stood at the top of rounded slope of Cartman’s Cap, looking down at the city below, their shadows stretched far out ahead of them. “Evening’s not far off, and we covered a lot today.”

“Yes,” Germaine agreed, taking her glasses off a moment and rubbing her eyes. “We did.”

“How many days you intending to spend in Capstan, exactly?” Ensley asked, as they stood at the top of the rounded slope Cartman’s Cap, looking down at the city below, their shadows stretched far out ahead of them.

“As many days as it takes to walk every street of this place,” Germain replied.

“All right,” Ensley said, dubiously. “Um, if you don’t mind me asking—”

“Oh, of course.” Germaine lowered her backpack to the ground with a quiet sigh of relief, carefully undoing the straps. “Your payment.”

“It’s not that,” Ensley said, and then couldn’t believe the words had come out of his mouth. “I mean, it’s not just that. I was wondering about your interest in the city. Not to intrude, but it’s unusual to see new faces these days. And it’s rarer for people to take this detailed an interest in this mess of a city.”

“You’ve lived here long, Mr. Ensley?” Germaine inquired.

“Most of my life,” Ensley said.

“I travel almost constantly these days, myself,” Germaine said. “Out of devotion to my Order.” She straightened from her pack, two more bags of mushrooms in her hands. “And I observe where I travel, out of that same devotion.”

“I see,” Ensley said, who did not see in the slightest.

“You actually hold many of the qualities the Order represents,” Germaine said, shouldering her pack once more. “You are observant, about your city. You are careful, with your words and your questions. And you are a skeptic.”

“A skeptic?” Ensley said. Since when is being a skeptic a requirement for being a nun?

“Yes, a skeptic. You don’t trust me.” Germaine replaced her goggles, flashing him a starting smile. “Nor should you. Until tomorrow, Mr. Ensley.”

With that, she was once again gone. Ensley stood there like a fool, a chanterelle bag in dangling from each hand, then swore loudly and pattered after her, trying hopelessly to stuff the bags under his jacket.

Germaine was right—he didn’t trust her. And it was about time he found out just what exactly she was playing at.

We’re in the process of querying agents with RUMLANDS right now. Wish us luck, we’re going to need it! Most agents don’t exactly have “speculative fiction ensemble cast illustrated YA with 1930s airplanes and giant mushrooms” on their MSWL, but we’re hoping to change some minds about that…

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