The Secret Life of the Real Becky Miller: Part 3

Here we are. The final interview with the REAL Becky Miller. This is the part where she reveals her deepest, darkest secret . . . (loud stage gasp) . . . an excerpt from one of her books.

Before I give you what you all have been waiting for, some great genre writing, I'd like to thank my virtual reality guest, Rebecca Luella Miller, for the interview.

Thanks so much, Becky, and I wish you the best on all your writing projects!

Now, back to the show:

MD: We’d all love to read something you’ve written. Can you give us a brief synopsis and an excerpt from one of your novels?

RLM: Well, why be logical. Since I’ve been talking about The Lore of Efrathah, I’ll give you a completely different story. This is a stand-alone entitled The Only.

Brief synopsis:
Soluno—the discarded God of the land.

Roving bands of thieves. Child sacrifice. Deification of the reigning sovereign. Novo and the others who want to bring back worship of Soluno plan to change these reprehensible conditions. Can they escape King Olam’s murderous clutches? As they flee, will they fall victim to revenge, or discover a surprising source of support? Above all, will the new king succumb to the lure of illegitimate wealth and power?

Chapter 1—Secrets and Lies
King Olam’s human sacrifices provided powerful evidence, but the warrior contests convinced Novo. Not because of the spilled blood—either way, on the altar or in the arena, people died. Rather, Olam’s cocky air, his expectation of winning the final bout against the tournament champion, his grandstanding for the crowd were explicit contradictions to nobility, to deity. Meridan was right—how could Olam be the legitimate king?

On the stadium floor, the regal figure spun away from his opponent and thrust his sword upward, cutting the soldier’s shield arm. The crowd cheered, and Novo pumped his fist in the air, chanting Olam’s name along with the other citizens of Thenes.

The effort to appear supportive demanded all of Novo’s will, more so today than it had three months ago at the king’s festival, though why this was so, he couldn’t explain. Perhaps his perception was off—with time he had simply forgotten how hard these games were to endure.

The crowd roared again as King Olam ducked his head and his opponent’s dagger whiffled past his ear. The king righted himself and laughed, a sardonic chuckle that twisted his mouth into a sneer. “Not bad for a foot soldier.”

The warrior circling him paused, his rapier dipping slightly. “A foot soldier, your grace? I’m of the temple guard, the ranking officer.”

“Foot soldier,” repeated the king. “If you live.” He lunged with his sword aimed at his opponent’s armpit.

The officer reacted to the threat with a jerk that snapped his blade back into position. The point scraped the king’s neck just under his chin.

A red welt puffed up, and a trickle of blood meandered toward the throat of his open shirt. He daubed at the laceration with the back of his hand, staring with ever-widening eyes at the red blotch smearing his knuckles.

A collective gasp escaped the spectators closest to the action.

“Is he bleeding?” an old woman said into the silence that followed.

The king clamped the palm of his free hand against the wound, roaring as if he’d lost the life of his eldest son at the hands of his youngest. Novo recognized the cry because he’d been present when the king received the report that Ongilam had stabbed Malik to death.

The menace in the king’s eye matched the rising fury in his voice.

Novo’s friend Potani elbowed him in the ribs. “If I were the officer, I’d yield.”

“Too late. He’s already a dead man.” Fingering an imperceptible bulge beneath his waistband, Novo pushed away from the restraining rail. He didn’t need to watch what was about to take place since he’d seen the king cut the life from a man many times before, but what was worse, that roar of anger meant a good many onlookers were doomed to die as well.

He grabbed a fist of Potani’s thin cotton shirt, careful not to pull too hard lest he widen the tear splitting the sleeve from the neck.

Potani stumbled after him. The king roared a second time, more in triumph than before. The officer of the guard screamed, and screamed again. Terror pushed his voice higher, louder, until his cry of pain overtook it. The crowd cheered, drowning his last gasps, though the shouts sounded more half-hearted than usual.

Novo, still pulling Potani along with him, reached the closest archway before the next shriek sounded—a woman’s high-pitched shriek.

A palace guardsman stepped from the shadow of the sandstone wall enclosing the arena. “Where do you think you’re going?”

Averting his gaze to the ground, Novo mumbled, “The king has his victory.”

“But not the homage he is due.”

More screams rose from the stadium floor.

“He won’t take the temple throne today.” Novo guided Potani to his side so the guard could not see his friend’s face.

A figure appeared on the parapet above them. “Guardsman, open the gate.”


“Open the gate, you dolt. The games are over today.”

The guardsman saluted, then unlatched the wooden gate and swung it open without taking his eyes off Novo.

After checking the presence of the bulge at his waist, Novo shepherded Potani out, adjusting his tattered brown cap—as much to block his face and hide the clump of sandy hair that had a way of falling over his forehead as to stave off the blast of cold air that met them on the other side of the wall.

The two men hunched along without speaking, their footsteps clattering on the cobbled street, until the acrid scent of the smelter’s workshop drifted to them.

At the next intersection, Potani glanced down the empty lane, left, then right. “How did you know he wouldn’t take the throne today?”

Novo peered over his shoulder. When he was convinced no one was following them, he answered. “He was bleeding.”

“You think that really was blood?” Potani asked, his tone full of caution more than of doubt.

“Of course it was.” Novo slowed, his hand once again connecting with the hard stone beneath his waistband. “He doesn’t have you fooled too, does he?”

“Everyone says the king doesn’t bleed.”

Novo met his friend’s gaze. “The true king doesn’t.”

“But you just said …”

“That Olam was bleeding.”

Potani waved his hands as if to erase the words from the air. “Novo, don’t say such a thing.”

“You yourself saw it.”

“But don’t say such a thing.” Potani raised one eyebrow higher than the other.

Novo coerced playfulness into his tone. “At least not on the street.”

Potani chuckled, and the two men broke into a jog.


Becca Johnson said...

Wow! Awesome writing, Becky! I'm hooked! Can't wait to read the book when it gets published. :D

Becca Johnson

Merrie Destefano said...

Hey, there, Chicka! Glad you stopped by to read Becky awesome writing!

Maybe somebody with some publishing-pull will see this. Wouldn't that be fun?

See you in the cyber-sphere, Becca!

Becky said...

Merrie, thanks for being such a gracious hostess--for running the interview and posting this opening to The Only. Seeing it here makes me want to hurry and finish the last Efrathah book so I can get back to this one.

Becca, thanks for your encouraging feedback. Nothing better to hear than "I'm hooked." ;-)


sally apokedak said...

I'm also hooked. This opening is great.

Merrie Destefano said...

It was just way too much fun to interview you, so I have to thank you!

Great story beginning, Becky--I hope you get to finish this one soon!

Becca and Sally,
Thanks for the cyber-visit!