We take a short break from our obsessive pushing of the Schoolbooks & Sorcery Kickstarter to talk about something a little… okay, a lot different.
“The Miller’s Daughter” appears in the new anthology, Witches, Princesses, and Woman at Arms, edited by Sacchi Green (Cleis, 2017). In this delightful collection of erotic lesbian fairy tales, I, and other wonderful authors such as the ever-amazing Annabeth Leong, Emily L. Byrne, Salome Wilde, A.D.R. Forte, and Sacchi herself, take a good look at what makes fairy tales tick, and then reinvent them in sexy, sensual, satisfying ways.
My story is inspired by Rumpelstiltskin, but with a dark, witchy twist. In this tale, the Rumpelstiltskin figure is a mysterious witch, an older female possessing potent magics and a knack for spinning straw into previous metals. Katherina, the miller’s daughter, is strong and resourceful, determined to find a way out of a terrible situation. Together, they pass every task set before them by the greedy king, and make some magic of their own.
What can I say? I wanted to tell this story from the viewpoint of the so-called villain, to find a way to make her sympathetic and vulnerable without sacrificing her mystique and power. I wanted Katherina to have her own sense of agency as she actively participates in getting what she truly desires and needs. And I wanted this to be sexy and at least a little surprising. Best of all, I enjoyed bringing these characters to life.
Perhaps the best compliment I’ve gotten thus far for “The Millers Daughter” comes from an Amazon review, which states, “The biggest surprise was a Rumpelstiltskin type story between two women. It was written by a man and even though I wanted to hate it for just that reason I could not…go figure!”
Hey, I’ll take that in the best way possible. It’s not the first time someone’s said I write acceptably satisfying F/F situations… for a male author. If you like this, or are intrigued, don’t forget I have a whole collection of f/f erotic urban fantasy out there.
For your pleasure, then, a safe-for-work excerpt…
I came to her in her cell, just after nightfall.
I don’t know what exactly I’d expected of Katharina, the miller’s daughter. Perhaps a meek and terrified victim, reduced to tears by the sheer injustice of her circumstances. Perhaps a rage-weary firebrand, voice hoarse from shouting at her captors, nails bloody from scrabbling at the lock. Instead, I found a cool, calm, collected young woman, who prowled the confines of her quarters like an animal in a cage, examining it for weaknesses.
I think I fell in love with her a little in that moment.
Katharina was not beautiful, but she was lovely in her own way. Her hair was long and fine, a silken blonde that tumbled down her back like a waterfall. Her eyes were a brilliant blue, sharp and intelligent. And her skin, with one exception, was smooth and lightly tanned from time spent outdoors. Were it not for the purple birthmark which stained her right cheek, she might even have been considered a great beauty, able to attract any number of suitors.
Alas, she had reached marriageable age and then some, with no man able to overlook this flaw, despite her father’s increasingly outrageous offers of dowry. “It is but a fairy mark,” he claimed to all who would listen. “She was touched by the fairies at birth, and imbued with a great gift, which will belong to any who wed her.” Had there been any fairies remaining in our land to dispute this, they might have put a rest to the claim before it caused problems. But there were not, and they didn’t, and so it did.
The king had heard tales of Katharina, the miller’s daughter, who could spin straw into copper, silver, and gold. And the king, a greedy man who never stopped to wonder why the miller was not already wealthy beyond belief, took her for his own, but with an ultimatum: Katharina would spin for him. If she passed his tests, he would marry her and her father would be richly rewarded. If she failed, there would be two new heads adorning the spikes atop Traitors’ Gate.
The king had no patience for failure.
I had no patience for the king, and so I came to Katharina as night fell, appearing in the shadows of her cell with but a whisper of cloak to herald my arrival.
I call it a cell, but it was a spacious tower chamber, bare but for a few necessities… such as a spinning wheel and an imposing pile of straw. There was a lovely view of Traitors’ Gate through the thin barred window, to remind Katharina of her fate should she prove inadequate. I was pleased to see that it had not affected her.
She whirled when she sensed my presence, taking a step back to eye me warily. I can only imagine what she made of a hooded, cloaked figure, standing where none had been the moment before. Remaining still so as not to spook her, I pushed my hood back and let me look at me.
Slowly, she took in my own feminine features and long dark curls, my red lips and dark eyes, my non-threatening stance, and she relaxed. Just a little. “Who are you?” she demanded. “Why are you here? If that bastard king sent you, tell him I can’t work with an audience! The straw will turn to dust and he’ll never have his riches and treasures.”
My lips curled in a smile. Ash and oak, but I already admired her spirit. She had a fire that would be utterly wasted on the king. And yet, I had come to make sure she lived and ultimately married him. “Calm yourself, Katharina,” I told her gently. “I know the truth of your supposed gift, and the fate which awaits you come the morning.”
“Then why are you here?” she asked again, folding her arms sternly. “And just who are you?”
“I cannot tell you my name. But I’m here to help you. I will spin the straw into copper, enough for you to buy another day of life from the king.”
As she assessed my offer, her eyes narrowed suspiciously. “And what will it cost me?”
What is the cost of a magical favor? Buy the book and find out.
Ooooorrrrrr…. comment and you might win a copy for yourself. Details below:
THE GIVEAWAY and LINKS for the Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms Blog Tour
Anyone who comments on any of these blog posts will be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms. Each blog you comment on gives you one more entry.
Here’s the lineup of blog posts—the links may be adjusted as we go along, so check back here every now and then.
June 14th: Sacchi Green-“Trollwise” (plus the Introduction)
June 15th: Cara Patterson-“Steel”
June 16th: Michael M. Jones-“The Miller’s Daughter”
June 19th: H.N. Janzen-“The Prize of the Willow”
June 20th: Annabeth Leong-“The Mark and the Caul”
June 21st: Brey Willows-“Penthouse 31”
June 22nd: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”
June 23nd: Emily L. Byrne-“Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl”
June 26th: A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”
June 27th: M. Birds-“Woodwitch”
June 28th: Madeleine Shade-“Robber Girl”
June 29th: Lea Daley-“The Sorceress of Solisterre”
June 30th: Allison Wonderland-“SWF Seeks FGM”
Thanks for dropping by!