GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Author Anecdote: YA Fantasy Author Bekah Harris: Wrath of the spider! + excerpt | I Smell Sheep

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Author Anecdote: YA Fantasy Author Bekah Harris: Wrath of the spider! + excerpt

Wrath of the Spider 
Bekah Harris, author of The Thorn Princess 

As a YA fantasy author, I conjure up stories about dark faeries and shape-shifting harbingers of death for a living. My research often involves horror movies, hikes through haunted places, and research of Appalachia’s darkest legends, so my tolerance for the creepy and macabre has always been pretty high. 

But anyone who calls me a friend knows that my one true fear is spiders.

Now, I have a healthy respect for all God’s creatures. The universe is a complicated web of predators and prey, and I appreciate spiders, mainly because they eat mosquitos.

From a safe distance, I am an admirer of the gorgeous yellow spinning spiders that weave magnificent webs in our gardens here in East Tennessee. But the venomous variety that lurk in the dark corners of the cellar or hide beneath rocks and stumps are the ones that send me shrieking and stumbling like a cliched slasher film victim.

The necrotic brown recluse and highly venomous black widow are common sights here in the East Tennessee mountains. In fact, it’s not unusual to see at least five or six during the spring and summer months, which is just something we live with and accept in these parts.

But their place is outside.

So when I discovered a Black Widow the size of a half-dollar in my kitchen cabinet, the poor creature became acquainted with the business end of my boot before it had a chance to contemplate its fatal trespass.

Following it’s completely justifiable extermination, I then did what any good southern wife would do. I called my husband at work, ranting and raving about my brush with death and the immediate need for an exterminator to bring a full arsenal of destructive tools to locate and annihilate any red spotted, eight-legged bringers of doom that might be lurking in my home.

My husband responded like any good southern husband. In other words, badly.

“Black widows aren’t usually fatal,” he said. “You need to calm down.”

Calm down? Not usually fatal?

As you can imagine, this was the incorrect response. In fact, the word “divorce” might have been mentioned, along with threats to burn down the house if that’s what it would take to convince me that the threat had been neutralized.

Incidentally, Kevin did call an exterminator, but it would be a couple of days before our scheduled appointment.

Meanwhile, I was unfairly expected to continue my life as normal.

Still suffering from my fear hangover, I warily took a shower and dressed for work the next morning.

With an unshakeable feeling of dread, I turned on the garage light and pushed the button to open the door. Rain poured down outside, adding to my fatalistic mood. My shoulder aching from the heavy bag containing several books and my laptop, I popped the trunk and rearranged some of the stuff inside to make room.

Suddenly, something fell on the back of my neck and scampered across my skin. With all the grace of a cardiac patient after a donut burger, I clutched my chest, lurching backward. Clearly, the spiders were launching their official attack now that I was determined to rid my home of them.

The heavy bag slid from my shoulder, descending like an anvil right on my pinky toe, left unprotected by the strappy sandal I wore. Pain ripped through me with an intensity that doubled me over with nausea.

By the time I realized I had freaked out over a mere raindrop falling from the garage door and onto my neck, I was sprawled across the floor of the garage staring down at my bruised and swollen toe, unmistakably broken by the heavy weight of the bag I carried.

Well played, mother nature. Well played.

The Thorn Princess (The Iron Crown Faerie Tales Book 1 of 6)
by Bekah Harris
March 1, 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairytales
Publisher: Dreamlake Media
ISBN: 1796394653
Number of pages: 268
Word Count: 57099
Cover Artist: Ana Bazyl
What is Ivy Hawthorne?

Ivy Hawthorne has always felt like an outsider, but now she is starting to wonder who—and what—she really is.

She can see people’s auras. Animals watch her wherever she goes, and worst of all, sometimes her dreams actually come true.

But recently, things have gone from strange to downright bizarre.

The animals have started following her. Strangers have started watching her. And when she gets angry or upset, inexplicable things are bound to happen.

But the craziest thing of all is the sudden arrival of Barrett Forbes, a mysterious transfer student who finds her fascinating.

The more she gets to know Barrett, the more she learns about the dark truth behind her lonely, isolated childhood. As she digs deeper into her past, Ivy discovers the shocking realities about her lineage and where her destiny lies.

Filled with magic, romance, and mystery, The Thorn Princess is the first book in Bekah Harris’ captivating new series, the Iron Crown Faerie Tales.

Ivy Hawthorne could feel its eyes on her.

An old screech owl was common enough in the mountains. What wasn’t so common was the way it watched her, its huge yellow irises round as saucers, its head moving to follow her figure up the path to the dining hall, where breakfast was already underway.

Ivy had always been good with animals, but sometimes, the way they focused on her was unsettling. Like right now. It was almost seven-thirty. The owl should have been roosting in its nest, settling into sleep for the day.

She trudged past the tree where it perched, its downy brown and white feathers puffed out against the cold, as the main buildings of the Kingston Academy campus rose up in the distance. The series of towering stone buildings loomed over her like sinister shadows as the near-hidden sun touched a bleak winter sky. Locked away from the rest of the world, the students who attended the historic boarding school were protected in the safe arms of the campus by a tall iron gate that separated the school from the treacherous mountain terrain and wildlife that surrounded it. The spindles were too close together for even a child to slide through, and the fence was too tall, slick, and sharp to climb. Which was just how the parents and administrators wanted it.

Unless you were a squirrel or bird, there was no going in or out without getting stuck. Or impaled if you managed to climb high enough.

The morning was still and quiet. The only sounds were the rattling of naked tree branches and the crunching of Ivy’s boots in the frozen snow. On mornings like this, Ivy resented the school uniform requirement at Kingston. The wind tore through the thin black leggings she wore beneath her pleated skirt, as she readjusted her heavy bag that drooped toward the ground.

The lone owl hooted as Ivy left it behind. Unable to help herself, she turned, stopping to watch it for a moment. Her gaze connected with the owl’s, its wizened expression examining her with a fixation that made her wonder if it could see her future. Or maybe even her past. When she was a little girl, Nan used to tell her stories about birds and other animals that could see into a person’s soul. Nan believed it like gospel, but Ivy had always figured they were just old wives’ tales. Folklore from the superstitious mountains where they lived. But the owl’s penetrating gaze was enough to make her question those beliefs.

Checking her smartwatch, Ivy shook off the eerie feeling and hustled up the path until she reached the sidewalk, which, mercifully, had been shoveled and salted. She stomped the snow from her boots and rushed up the stairs to the dining hall. When she opened the door, the smell of frying bacon and maple syrup filled her senses, as she absently handed her meal card to Rhoda, the cashier who smiled and said “Good morning,” just like any other day.

But Ivy’s nerves sloshed in her belly as she approached the dining room. She had dreamed about the dining hall last night. Like any of the places she saw in her dreams, she was wary to enter. Taking a deep breath to calm her irrational anxiety, she stepped into the room and scanned the scattering of round oak-colored tables and chairs.

Most of her classmates weren’t early risers, so in twenty minutes, they would be scrambling from their beds and rushing to their eight a.m. classes. But Ivy usually woke up early after a night of tossing and turning between restless dreams, which had been the case that morning. The dreams were becoming more frequent lately, just like her animal sightings.

This morning it had been an owl.

Yesterday, she had seen a cardinal, which wasn’t altogether strange.

But the way it had flitted behind her from tree to tree until she had walked inside had been odd. A few minutes later, it had perched in the windowsill of her lit class, peeking inside.

“There you are!”

Jules McKinnon, Ivy’s best friend since the early years at Kingston, waved at her from their usual table. She gestured to the untouched plate in front of the empty seat beside her. She had piled on French toast sticks, honey, and apple slices. Ivy’s favorite. Just as her stomach growled, she stopped short, examining Jules. Her textured black pixie was sticking out in all directions this morning, rather than being swept softly to the side.

Oh, no.

If Jules had actually made the effort to fix her hair, then she’d been up for more than the ten minutes it took to throw on her uniform, brush her teeth, and walk to the dining hall. Which also probably meant she’d been up for hours and hadn’t been tempted to hit snooze five times. It meant she had been wide awake and obsessing over something.

Ivy focused, narrowing her eyes in an effort to see Jules’ aura, a fuzzy light that emanated from most people in a variety of colors determined by their emotions. Ivy had possessed the strange ability for as long as she could remember, though it wasn’t something she advertised. Sure enough, Jules’s aura glowed in a dark yellow halo that shone from her head and shoulders. She was worried. Probably about her grades. Ivy learned a long time ago that, as smart as Jules was, she would always freak out over tests, quizzes, grades, and her GPA. All the women in her family had gone on to Hollins University, and Jules was determined to get in, too, even if it caused her to have a nervous breakdown in the process.

“I thought you were never going to get here. I fell asleep studying last night like a narcoleptic dumbass and am now doomed to fail Crenshaw’s lit quiz this morning. Thank God I woke up at four. Anyway, you’re good at all this poetry crap. Tell me…” She looked down at her notes. “What are the underlying Romantic elements of the Lady of Shallot?”

“First of all, it’s Shalott,” Ivy said. “Shallots are a type of onion.”

She dunked a piece of French toast in honey, chewing while Jules went into full-on panic mode.

“Oh my God, I am so screwed. I thought last year’s phi lit class was awful. But this semester? British Poets? Just kill me! Crenshaw is going to see to it that my four-point-oh is a pleasant dream of the past, achieved and maintained for ten years but snatched away in an undignified attempt to interpret poetry.”

“Dramatic much?”

“Not cool, Ivy. Can’t you see I’m desperate? Why couldn’t this be calculus? I get math.”

“Poetry is mathematical,” Ivy said. “It’s about structure and pattern, rhyme, meter, and rhythm. Anyway, stop freaking out. Just remember that the Romantic philosophies of the day were about…”

Ivy lost her train of thought. Her stomach cramped and twisted as he walked in. The boy from the dream. She watched him as he moved past her with a confident gait and sat at the fourth table from the coffee bar. Just as she had dreamed. Ivy blinked, shaking her head. She tried to look away but couldn’t.

“About…?” Jules glared impatiently until she followed the direction of Ivy’s stare. “Ah. I see you’ve discovered Kingston’s latest flavor of eye candy.”

The boy was tall and thin, but lean, not skinny. He looked completely out of place in the required gray blazer and khaki pants. With skin the color of porcelain and dark black-blue hair, he looked more like a leather jacket sort of guy than a prep school student. His aura glowed from him in a soft red. Confidence. Strength.

It took a lot of concentration, but Ivy had been seeing auras since she was a small child. Nan called it “the sight” and had taught her how to read them. Had taught her never to tell anyone that she could see them.

Just like he had in the dream, the boy was surrounded by a red glow as he sat down. Her dreams always seemed so real, and when she woke, Ivy always had a sense that she had been to a different time or a different reality. But she didn’t often stare down her dreams in the daylight.


About the Author:
Website-FB-Twitter Born and raised in the mountains of East Tennessee, Bekah Harris has been writing since she could hold a pencil. The beauty of her home in the Appalachian Mountains, along with the legends, myths, and folklore of that area, is what inspires the unique plots and settings captured in her young adult fiction. In addition to her love of all things fictional, Bekah is also a freelance writer and editor, as well as a high school English teacher. When not working, Bekah can be found at home making art with her son, as well as drinking coffee and watching Netflix with her husband.

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