Stories taught me how to live — I learned from books how people interact, how they think, how the things they feel translate into body language (for instance, a person who clenches their fists is an angry person, and a person who keeps checking their watch is a person who needs to be somewhere else). The questions I’ve had growing up, the answers I’ve revised repeatedly over the years, the lives I’ve lived in the pages of books have shaped me into the person I am today.
I write for children because I know how hard growing up can be. When you are young, everything you feel, see, hear is so much more immediate, so much more vibrant, and as exciting as that sound, it can also be equally terrifying. Your life changes every single day when you are young — at every new fact you learn about the world, at every new street corner you discover; a lake is as big as an ocean, and a walk in the park is never just a walk in the park. I write for children because I want to be there for them. Stories were there for me when I had nothing else.
Summary: After an alchemy experiment gone wrong, a boy and his pet-god end up in twenty-first century Europe. Length: ~2,600 words.
Thump. Morgue leans back in his grandmother’s rocking chair and watches the world spin. It has not stopped since Lugnor hit him with a spade. “A test of mortality,” Lugnor said, “if you can get hurt, perhaps, so can I.”
Thump-thump. Dust motes circle above Morgue’s head like millions of little diamonds which glitter at odd angles then disappear. When he makes a grab for them, his hand comes back with nothing. Thump-thump-thump. The sound of Lugnor stamping up and down the stairs is beginning to grate on Morgue’s nerves. Breathing in deep and closing his eyes, Morgue tries to remember a time when Lugnor did not irk him like this.
At the beginning of the last century, Lugnor’s visits to the mortuary were the highlight of Morgue’s second life. Living as a revenant had taken some getting used to: the voicelessness, the unbeating heart, the whispers in his head that used to keep him up at night, the not-being-alive yet somehow alive enough to disqualify him from claiming afterdeath benefits. Aside from the goodly mortician, who had signed the adoption papers, Lugnor was the only bright thing in Morgue’s deathless life. He can still remember, even though it makes him cringe now, how embarrassingly smitten with Lugnor he was.
Liam is well liked everywhere in Neverearth not because of his achievements but in spite of it.
Liam is perfect, it is all he knows how to be, and if there is despair behind it that is his business. Liam notices that his kindness intimidates some of his classmates, so he responds, moulding himself automatically to present the type of perfection they prefer. He modulates his speeches and actions accordingly, and after a while they forget that his eagerness to throw himself in the path of danger used to frighten them, that his curiosity had once been the talk of the school.
He is just like them now, if not always a little above, and he feels himself slipping into the role with despair. It is nothing, really, just as his life is nothing.
He is still as capable as he ever was, spotting the tiniest of inconsistencies and following them, leaping across the landscape of suicidal impulse, but he slows his thoughts, picks his words with meticulous care and is careful in how he presents himself. Hard work, devotion and dedication, not the fact that he simply is willing to die, is the reason he rises above them.
Liam Mirth will go far, they say, and Liam knows it also and does not care. Liam knows that if he just has the right tools he could leave this world, never mind being the greatest wizard, and all his achievements mean nothing with this knowledge.
He knows there has to be a way out, that there must be something else to strive for, but he gave up a long time ago, perhaps even before he fell into Neverearth — what does it matter? He might be broken inside but his veneer is perfect.