36 years in the writing, A Night At The Quay is finally being published in 2017! The full trailer is at the bottom of this entry, but here’s a teaser…
A Night At The Quay is my love letter to Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Karl Edward Wagner and Michael Moorcock. I believe Sword and Sorcery has been underrepresented in the past decades and I’m out to change all that.
Alden Havenwulf set out from his father’s estate in northern Corland to seek his fortune. As the second son of the king’s only brother, Alden was 7th in line for the throne. But in Corland the eldest son inherited everything. Expected to enter the priesthood, Alden instead rebels and leaves home to seek his fortune in the world of Reven.
After seven years of close calls and high adventure in company with the giant red-haired Disdan Dexter Reedman, his closest friend, Alden finally has the wealth needed to buy an estate of his own. After booking passage on the fastest ship on the Nhojen coast, Sea Scamp, he and Dexter need only survive one last night in the dangerous seaport of Custacrak.
But to acquire the legendary diamond called The Star of Nhoje, Alden killed the king’s only brother, Duke Jon Carles. Now he is trailed by assassins, the soldiers of the Harbor Guard and something much more sinister than mere humans. To escape he will face overwhelming odds and a nightmare from the Old Days.
I was lucky enough to partner with Memphis artist Shannon Ortberg (@tinkledanxer), who is drawing the cover. She’s attempting something highly technical and I believe the result will be a magnum opus.
The novella is approximately 17,100 words in length. By modern standards that’s a novelette, but I grew up with the dividing line between the two forms at 15,000 words.
Below is an illustration I did in 1983 for the story. It’s titled “Escape to the sea.”
Sample from the prologue
A Night at the Quay
Bruno slipped past the guard at the stone stairway leading up to the Wizard’s keep. He gripped the knife under his robe and prayed he didn’t drop it, while using his other hand to hold a heavy jug.
“Master wants wine,” he said to the guard named Gimbol. He gestured with the decorated ceramic crock. The nails in his boot-soles clicked the stone as he ascended without stopping. “Bruno must hurry.”
“Get on with ya, then,” Gimbol said, pointing with his thumb. “We don’t need ‘im angry tonight.”
Bruno nodded and smiled in his obsequious way, flashing his remaining teeth. He hurried upward, taking care not to slip.
Getting the knife had been easy. The late hour meant most of the kitchen staff slept. Only two bakers kneaded loaves in the semi-darkness and neither spotted him stealing the blade.
Pulling in his misshapen head like a turtle, he wiped drool from his lips with the back of his hand. Sweat beaded his brow. It had taken Bruno weeks to work up the courage for this, and his dim brain realized this would be his one chance.
Kill him now, or feel the whip forever.
The wizard treated most of his servants with mercy, even kindness, but not Bruno. He whipped and cursed Bruno, kicked him, and called him awful names and fed him slop the dogs would not eat. It was a terrible way to treat his only son, but now Bruno’s turn had come.
The tower rose from the crest of the tallest mountain overlooking Bottomless Bay. Clammy air poured through windows off the sea far below. Torches flared in sconces as the steps led first to one landing, then another and finally a third. Beyond the small, flat area, a heavy oaken door led to the Wizard’s inner sanctum. Bruno’s sweaty hands trembled as he reached for the latch and glided through.