Today Nemma Wollenfang, a previous winner of Retreat West’s First Chapter Competition, is here as a guest author to talk about ‘Masked Hearts’ – a sweet fantasy romance anthology recently released by Roane Publishing which includes her newest novella, Dragon Law, alongside four other fantasy tales from other authors.
It’s about, as you’ve probably guessed, dragons! Which don’t tend to appear very often on the Retreat West blog!
Dragon Law by Nemma Wollenfang
The kingdom of Baelin is under attack. A terrifying dragon rains fire down on the capital city, burning all in his path. The people’s one hope lies with the Princess Draxa, who – in accordance with an ancient rite – must willingly sacrifice her future to sate the beast’s wrath.
For her kingdom, Draxa will do it. She will leave Andre, the fierce soldier she loves with all of her heart, don her red cloak, and make the treacherous trip into the heart of the mountain, to face the monstrous Lord Siouxlian in his lair.
Here is what she has to say about it: ‘The original call for Masked Hearts asked for stories to go along with the book’s beautiful cover image. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to write something. Already a plot had started to unravel in my head. You know the way a story grips you and you can’t let it go? Well, that’s what happened. It was going to be about a girl and a dragon and a knight… but not in the traditional sense. I wanted to rewrite the classic knight-in-shinning-armour-saves-damsel-in-distress trope with a brand new twist, I wanted to create a tale where the princess does not get saved in the way she expects. Dragon Law is what I came up with. For those of you who fancy taking a look, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks for having me, Retreat West!’
Here is an excerpt:
Her eyes whipped to the cavern opening… nothing but blackness, then… a rumble, quiet at first. One, then another. The ground shook until each rumble became a boom. Tiny pebbles quaked, Draxa’s breathing shallowed. Could she see something there? Uncoiling in the darkness? Something vast and powerful and deadly?
“The flag, you fool!” the high priest commanded, flapping his arm at another guard. “Put up the flag!”
No sooner had he spoken than a white flag rose up, waving about.
Andre’s mien had grown stony now and tense. Ready to fight, ready to protect. Draxa wanted to reach out, to take his hand, even in view of the priest and guards. But that would not help him fight so she stayed the urge, clasping her hands together beneath her red robe.
Then, as if some ghastly apparition from her most terrifying nightmares had come to life, a gigantic form slithered from the shadows, larger even than any of her imaginings.
Oh, sweet heavens… Sharp black horns jutted back on his head, his hide was an array of ruby scales, and his eyes were of a black so deep that no abyss could compare.
In a tremulous voice, the high priest called out, “Oh Great and P-powerful Siouxlian! M-mighty Dragon Lord. We come here under a banner of t-truce!”
Already the collection has garnered a number of 5-star reviews.
For more on ‘Masked Hearts’ and the other stories it contains, read this blog from the publisher.
Want a copy? You can get one on the following websites?
Nemma is an MSc Postgraduate and prize-winning steampunk short story writer who lives in Northern England. Generally she adheres to Science Fiction – perhaps as a result of years in the laboratory cackling like a mad scientist – but she has been known to branch out, especially if there is a romantic twist to be had. Her stories have appeared in several anthologies, including: A Bleak New World (RIP), Come Into the House (Corazon Books), and Flame Tree’s Science Fiction Short Stories, as well as magazines. Two of her unpublished novels have now been shortlisted in, or won, competitions too. So if you’re wondering what she’s doing right now she’s probably editing.
Also, as of August, Nemma has recently sold a second sweet romance novella to Roane Publishing. It is called ‘Amidst the Strawberry Fields’ and will be appearing in Love Under the Harvest Moon later this year.
Thanks for coming, Nemma, and good luck with the many different writing projects you have on the go!