Just Like That, It Begins

“While I love all the kick-ass ladies of today’s fantasy novels, I wanted to create a heroine who accomplishes extraordinary things through ordinary means. At the heart of Asperfell is a woman who fights injustice with courage, compassion, and intelligence,” says Thomas. “These are weapons all of us possess, and we should use them liberally because I, for one, do not know how to use a sword, nor do I wish to be arrested for carrying one in public.” 

And, just like that, it begins.

My debut novel was announced today: Asperfell, a feminist fantasy told in classical style to be published by Uproar Books in February, 2020. Whenever anyone asks me to describe it, I tell them to imagine Jane Austen going through a Gothic phase, learning magic, and getting herself thrown in prison. Then they’d just about have it. 

Of course, it is not all fine manners and ancient castles and eldritch creatures, mind you, though there is plenty of that and much more besides. Like all fantasy, Asperfell is, at its core, about human emotion: fear, guilt, despair, courage in the face of great adversity, and hope. There must always be hope.

It is also about power.

One blustery Sunday evening in November of 2018 while I sat in my kitchen drinking wine and reading the seemingly never-ending list of atrocities that has become the news of late, I got angry, which is hardly news to anyone who knows me. The world has ever been an unjust place, and I exist in a constant state of incandescent rage at the helplessness I feel at not being able to stop it, at being powerless. 

But that night I did not just get angry, I also began to write. The first thousand words of Briony’s story poured out of me, and then the next, and the next. Rarely was it that easy in the months that would follow, but that is a subject best left to many, many future ramblings. 

You see, that night, I needed a heroine like Briony, a heroine who wields the same weapons I do to fight injustice: her mind, her heart, and her voice. I needed to be reminded that no matter how bleak the world, no matter how great the evil, I am not powerless. I may not be able to use a sword, or move mountains, or raise the dead, but do not for one moment think me unarmed. It is with a different sort of strength altogether that I fight. 

And I’d wager I’m not alone.