Tuesday, November 22, 2016

All the Dish on TEN THOUSAND THORNS + Snippets

So, if you've been following me on Twitter, you know that this month I got back to writing (finally) and was able to knock out the first draft of a new fairytale novella!

This is pretty exciting for me, since it marks the first new fairytale novella I've written since June 2015. Of course, the reason for the long delay was that I was too busy ploughing through that magnificent mess, OUTREMER. But the whole time I wrote that, I was keeping my eye on a whole hutch full of healthy little fairytale plot bunnies. Today, I'm thrilled to introduce you to one that's been putting a big smile on my face ever since I first conceived of it.

Ten Thousand Thorns
a retelling of Sleeping Beauty
in the style of
(hold your hats)

Hi-YAHH!! Other embarrassingly enthusiastic noises!
That's right, a kung-fu Sleeping Beauty. I have a huge grin on my face right now, actually. I had every bit as much fun writing this as you can imagine, and not only that, but I also took the opportunity to let my inner rebel jump up and down and shout a bit.

I've enjoyed wuxia film for years, and while the research for this particular novella was a bit more daunting than most because I felt I had so little familiarity with Chinese culture, I thoroughly enjoyed watching some old favourite films and getting to make the acquaintance of some new ones (Red Cliff! Hearts in eyes). I also, of course, was able to read some of the classic wuxia novels (and you can read my review of The Legend of the White-Haired Maiden here). 

I was attracted to wuxia for its stunning visuals, chivalric sensibilities, and epic fight scenes. But as I explained in my review of White-Haired Maiden, the more I discovered about the genre, the more I realised what a perfect vehicle it was for the story that I wanted to retell. Ten Thousand Thorns takes a whole new look at Sleeping Beauty, and I couldn't be more thrilled about how well this story works in this genre.

I guess you'd all like to see snippets!


"Tea is an art to be studied, not a thing to be tossed together in an odd moment of the day. Now go and make it properly."


“And,” said Old Zhang Guo, beaming in delight, “on her sixteenth birthday, after sustaining a slight injury from the Golden Phoenix Sword, she will enter into a profound meditation, from which she shall attain complete enlightenment, and from thence leave her body and ascend spiritually into Heaven.”


Something rapped against the shutters of his room, calling him abruptly back to consciousness. Clouded Sky tried to ignore it, but it persisted, a meek, insistent rat-tat-tat that needled on the edges of his calm.
Finally he got up and threw them open.
“Why disturb me? Why not just let yourself in?” he said sarcastically.
Iron Maiden hung upside-down from the gutter above, her face pink and smiling. “I wanted to be polite, Clouded Sky gege. You might have been bathing.”


He pulled back and opened his eyes. She was awake. She was staring at him.
In the corner of his eye, the lamplight leaped and flickered. A killing aura.
“Princess,” he gasped.
Shinggggg! The Golden Phoenix Sword leaped from the scabbard. He was staring into two wrathful eyes over the sharpest edge he’d ever seen.


“Oh, pah! Give him a rejuvenation pill and some ginseng soup.”


Now he met Morning Light with his own sword. Shua, shua! Back and forth they danced in the midst of the great battle, gold and black, two peerless martial artists in the world. Feinting to the east and stabbing to the west, they employed not just swords but also fingers, palms, fists, and feet. Each time their swords met and slithered against each other, it was as if the string of a zither was being plucked and allowed to die away; the energy their swords possessed flashed and sparked with each passing blow.


From far away, it seemed, a voice came to him out of the past. 
“Clouded Sky gege! Quick! Lu Dongbin Pierces the Dragon!”
He still held his sabre in his hand. Almost without thinking, he stabbed upwards with it and spitted an attacking guard.
The battle had come to him and was about to roll over him.
The voice came again. “Hero-Killing Forefinger! Roaming Wind On Rainbow Mountain! Jade Maiden Throws the Shuttle!”
Clouded Sky executed each stance in sequence. He moved almost blindly, but with each of the voice’s commands his stances were able to counter the attacks of his enemies.
“Assault on Heaven-Defying Gate! Iron Rod Breaks the Vase! Serpent-Crushing Divine Heel!”


 (yes, I really did have way too much fun writing this)

While I'm excited about Ten Thousand Thorns, I'll be honest with you: you most likely won't get the chance to read it for a while. However, if you're excited about my fairytale retellings, or fairytale retellings in general, don't forget that I have a story coming out in the Once fairytale collection just *checks calendar* TEN DAYS FROM NOW. Death Be Not Proud is also going to be a lot of fun, and I can't wait for you to read it!


Joseph J said...

Speaking of inspiration, imagine driving through a typical rather monotonous Toronto suburb and suddenly encountering this ensconced between two houses:

I was excited to see inside so I went there for an open house. I walked in, took one look and "nope" got out of there:

I didn't realize Buddhism had all these creepy looking idols like the hindus! Still, very gorgeous over all. Did you listen to traditional Chinese music while you wrote? It is very conducive to a meditative art like writing. Best way to get in the Eastern mood. The erhu is so wonderfully expressive.

Hayden said...

Okay, well this story sounds awesome! I know very little about Eastern culture, but it looks very cool. Especially the epic fight scenes :D

Andrew of the House of Lacey said...

I love the names you have come up with for the sword forms, Suzannah! Are they derived from historical, Eastern sword-arts?
Robert Jordan's WHEEL OF TIME portrayed a style of sword fighting that had amazingly named forms as well.
Parting the Silk
River undercuts the Bank
Courtier taps his Fan
Apple Blossoms in the Wind
The Boar Rushes Downhill
The Falcon Stoops
Cat Crosses the Courtyard

Andrew of the House of Lacey said...

Joseph J.
I see what you mean! Though, I suppose there is probably a wealth of fascinating symbolism and meaning behind those statues.

Do you hail from T'rono? :)

Joseph J said...

Yes sir.

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

You do come up with the best titles! This does look like a lot of fun.

Andrew of the House of Lacey said...

Ah, excellent! My mother's kin are from Canada.
Wonderful country.

Suzannah said...

Joseph, would it shock you terribly to know that I never, ever listen to music while writing? But I did enjoy some of the soundtracks from the arthouse wuxia - CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON has a great soundtrack featuring Yo-Yo Ma, and I enjoy the HERO soundtrack too.

Hayden - thanks for the encouragement. :) I'm far from satisfied with it yet, but I had so much fun writing it and have high hopes for it!

Andrew, I'm not sure? Some of the names of the martial arts stances I used are borrowed from the wuxia novels I read ("Jade Maiden Throws the Shuttle", for example) and those just *may* be actual martial arts techniques, but the wuxia novels were heavily fictionalised, so there's no guarantee. Others ("Hero Killing Forefinger") I made up on the spot. As for the last three, those are most certainly not derived from Eastern martial arts ;). Do they remind you of anything?

I've never read WHEEL OF TIME, but I would be willing to bet a substantial sum that Jordan's sword form names there are directly inspired by eastern martial arts!

Elisabeth - thanks! This title just may also change in the future, but I agree, TEN THOUSAND THORNS has such a fun ring to it!

Andrew of the House of Lacey said...

Ah, I see. I would suspect that names of this sort do have a historical basis somewhere, (judging from the variously named stances and actions of Kung Fu).
I am sure Jordan too, enjoyed himself immensely inventing his names. The more I think about it, the more I agree that his sword culture was probably inspired of the East.

I last form you mentioned certainly reminds me of something! (Gen 3:15?)
The other two I an not so sure about.

Suzannah said...

Andrew, you are definitely on the right track. ;)

Breezy said...

I can't wait to read it!! This will be utterly delightful!

Suzannah said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Breezy! It still has a way to go but I hope it will be marvellous once it gets there :)


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