Did any scene have you laughing or crying while you wrote it? Please share a snippet.
The moment I saw this question, I knew exactly which scene I wanted to share. There are (I hope!) some chuckle-worthy moments in A PROMISE OF FIRE, especially when the hero and heroine can’t decide if they need to kiss or fight. I definitely prefer comedy to tragedy myself, but there’s one scene that always makes my eyes prick, no matter how many times I’ve read it, and I love that stirring of emotion just as much as I love to laugh.
Cat, the heroine in A PROMISE OF FIRE, survived an abusive and unhappy childhood. While her past impacts both her and the story immensely, the novel is really more about the now—and the future. Her past shaped her, though, making Cat who she is when the story starts: rebellious, fierce, a survivor, a protector, and a little bit hard. Only a few key players from Cat’s past have any real page time, the ruthless Andromeda being one of them. Flashbacks show some key moments with Andromeda who, as my kids like to describe the villain in Disney movies, is “the evil bad guy” of the heroine’s troubled past.
But not all of Cat’s memories are bad, and one person, Eleni, was the counterbalance to all the terror and terrible. Eleni, a force of good in Cat’s childhood, has a small but essential role in the narrative because she’s so important to Cat’s future, which is what this novel is really about.
Here’s a flashback I’d like to share from A PROMISE OF FIRE.
Eleni and I are running up a hill, about to crest the rise and tear down the other side. I’m pushing hard, my seven-year-old legs straining to keep up with her longer, stronger, nine-year-old ones. I’m only a few feet behind, and her laughter whips back to me on the wind. My heart soars. We escaped. It won’t last long, but we escaped them all.
We hurtle over the top of the hill and run smack into a shepherd boy and his flock. Eleni and he crash to the ground in a tangle. I stumble, too, scraping my knee and knocking over a lamb. It makes a pathetic bleating sound, hops to its feet, and scampers away. All three of us stare at each other, stunned, and then the boy’s father is there, picking everyone up.
The color leaches from his face when he sees the Fisan royal crest on Eleni’s shoulder clasps. Stammering apologies, he falls to the ground, prostrate, dragging his son down with him until both their foreheads are flat against the grass. Eleni commands them to stand, but they’re too scared to rise farther than their knees, keeping their eyes downcast.
I barrel around a few sheep with my usual finesse and then shove a half-wilted posy of flowers I’m clutching in my hand at the boy. He’s about my age. I don’t want him to be scared.
The wind tosses my dark hair. It’s loose, and I know I look like a wildcat, with dirt and bruises and scrapes all over me. The boy’s eyes widen. He hesitates, but when I try giving him the flowers again, frowning and huffing, he takes the drooping blooms from my grubby hand.
The shepherd murmurs endless apologies, begging for Eleni’s mercy. Begging for their lives. She smiles sweetly and kneels in front of him, taking a jeweled clip from her hair. Her blonde locks lift on the breeze, pale, dawn sunbeams framing her shining face. The clip is entirely encrusted with sapphires, tiny Fisan pearls forming a row of delicate sea stars across the center. Blue and white. Ocean and ice.
She places the treasure in his hand and gently wraps his work-worn fingers around it. “To feed a village,” she whispers.
Without flashbacks like this, mentions of Cat’s past would be too one-dimensionally negative and risk feeling caricatural. Experiences with Eleni are important building blocks of Cat’s character and help to form the person readers meet at the novel’s outset. Surrounded by evil, impressionable, completely terrorized, and with powerful magic stirring within her, young Cat could easily have gone the same way as the sociopathic Andromeda. Even though Eleni is only on the fringes of Cat’s story, a secret light the adult Cat keeps alive in her heart, Eleni’s innate goodness shines through whenever she’s mentioned. The reason this scene touches me so deeply is that we see Eleni through Cat’s eyes and somehow understand that she was the linchpin of Cat’s humanity, the person who makes it possible for Cat to become the heroine of her own story rather than “the evil bad guy” of someone else’s tale.
Thank you so much for having me on the blog. I would love to hear from readers about moments in literature that have made them laugh or cry!
KINGDOMS WILL RISE AND FALL FOR HER…
BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT
Catalia “Cat” Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods—and her homicidal mother—have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.
Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm—until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin’s fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.
Award-winning author Amanda Bouchet grew up in New England and studied French at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She moved to Paris, France, in 2001. Her first novel, A PROMISE OF FIRE, won several Romance Writers of America chapter contests, including the Orange Rose Contest and the paranormal category of the prestigious Golden Pen.