Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank J.A. Rock for stopping by today.
Author: J.A. Rock
Cover Artist: Imaliea
Genre: Fiction, Lesbian
Know this: I am not a warrior. I am a disease.
When I was six, my parents died.
When I was sixteen, I was locked away in Rock Point Girls’ Home. Nobody wants to deal with a liar. An addict. A thief.
Nobody except Alle. She is pure, and she’s my friend in spite of all the rotten things I am.
There was once another girl like me—long ago. A cast-off daughter. A lying little beast who left a red stain across the land with her terrible magic. She’s imprisoned now in a maze high up on the cliffs. They say she’s half woman, half bull. They say she dines on human tributes and guards a vast treasure. They say she was born wicked.
But I know her better than the history books or stories do. She and I dream together. Our destinies are twisted up like vines.
Except I’m not going to turn out wicked like she is. I can save myself by destroying her. I’m going to break out of this place, and I’m going to enter the labyrinth and take her heart.
And once I’m redeemed, maybe Alle will love me.
Hi! I’m J.A. Rock, and I’m touring the internet with my new release, MINOTAUR, a queer fantasy/horror reimagining of the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. And there’s a giveaway involved! I’m giving one reader a chance to win Lost in a Jigsaw, the puzzle that nearly destroyed my sanity a few years ago (but provided hours of fun, I swear), as well as a $15 Riptide voucher.
Thanks so much to the host blogs for having me, and to everyone following the tour. Here’s today’s look at MINOTAUR.
Minotaur is the story of a teenage orphan, Thera Ballard, who lives in a town that was once terrorized by a beast known as the Minotaur. Half-woman, half-bull, the Minotaur is now imprisoned in a labyrinth high up on the cliffs. Thera, defiantly bitter and un-heroic, eventually enters the labyrinth with two friends in search of a fabled treasure, and, perhaps, redemption. But the labyrinth is full of horrors and dark magic. In this excerpt, Thera learns what has become of the friend from whom she was recently separated.
I turned and ran toward the hall, shaken. There was no reason to trust the man, but I didn’t know where else to go, and at least this hallway had light. The walls here were not stone; the bottom halves were wood paneled, and the upper portions papered in faded pink. Several times I had to slow and wait for Alle to unravel more thread. There were doors to my right, but I had no idea which one to open.
Finally I saw a door narrower than all the others, with a brass knob shaped like a cat’s head. It was holding what looked like a real mouse by the tail. I placed my hand on the knob, breathing hard, and yanked it. The mouse in the cat’s jaws began to struggle, and I gasped and jerked my hand away. The brass cat’s mouth opened, and the mouse fell at my feet and darted down the hall. I stood there for several seconds, my heart pounding.
I walked into a room that was mostly in shadow, except for a few yellow splotches of light coming from long-necked lamps on the shelves. Oh, the shelves. They covered three walls, all the way up to the ceiling. And on each one were toys. Mostly dolls, lying limp or else propped with their legs dangling. They were wooden or plastic. One looked expensive and pale—china, I supposed.
I left footprints in the dust. I turned in a circle, trying to see all the toys. There was a wooden train engine. Marbles in a glass jar. A plastic clown in blue and green polka dots bending close to a little plastic dog, a hand cupped over his ear as if the dog were telling him a secret.
I heard a sound like water dripping steadily from a faucet. I looked around, but I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Then a skittering in one corner. I walked forward and my foot slipped. Looking down, I saw the weak lamplight was catching the edge of a puddle. A rustling came from one of the shelves. I turned, intending to run from the room.
But then I saw her.
The doll had a heart-shaped face and black, shoulder-length hair. She was stuffed into a frilly, peach-colored dress with a lacy collar. Her eyes darted back and forth in the shadow, and she had a tight, tiny, bow-shaped smile painted on. Her lips, though—her lips underneath the paint were sewn shut with spider-leg stitches, and she was moving them, trying to get them open. Each time she did, the stitches strained, and she whimpered.
Her arms had a slight sheen, like plastic, but they looked . . . warm. They looked alive. I gazed at the doll’s face again, irked by her strange familiarity. I reached out and tipped one of the lamps toward her.
Kenna. The doll was Kenna.
Kenna, with her lips sewn shut, that awful, painted smile on her face. She sniffed, and a drop of clear liquid fell from her nose into the small puddle.
“Kenna!” I reached out to touch her, but she wobbled and fell. I caught her and tried to right her. She pulled away from me, stood on her small, hinged legs, and leaped from the shelf. She collapsed to her knees upon landing, but immediately scrambled up and ran behind one set of shelves, her nose still dripping.
“Kenna, come back! I’ll help you,” I promised desperately. But she had vanished. I shined the light on some of the other toys, and noticed new horrors. Some of the dolls still had human skin—moles and downy hair and the shadows of veins. Some moved. Others were inanimate except for their blinking eyes. The wooden train engine was actually made of a tiny, folded leg, a pink shoe forming the smoke stack. The marbles in the jar held miniature body parts. One was a pair of lips encased in glass. Two were eyes, the glass distorting them, making the blood vessels swell and the irises blur. I saw fingertips, locks of hair, yellowed teeth with bits of gum clinging to their roots. My stomach churned, and I had to turn away for a moment until the nausea passed.
A movement in the corner caught my eye. Kenna, looking shy and so small—she only came up to my knee. I dropped the lamp and raced to her. She froze, as though I might not spot her if she didn’t move. Her nose was dripping faster, and as I approached, a tear slid down her cheek, and she began to gush water from both nostrils, like a faucet. She let out a cry through her stitched lips and started to run, splashing through the trail she left.
Calling her name, I chased her from the room and out into the hall, where the chandeliers flickered out one by one until I was in darkness, listening to Kenna’s fading whimpers echoing off the stone.
Thanks for being part of the tour! To celebrate this release, I’m giving one commenter Lost in a Jigsaw, the award winning maze puzzle—all the pieces fit together, so the only way to know if you’ve put it together correctly is to solve the maze. If this sounds too much like torture, rest assured that you also get a $15 Riptide voucher. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way to contact you. On October 26th, I’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments. Contest is not limited to US entries. If you’d like, follow the whole tour—the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win!
About the Author
J.A. Rock is the author of queer romance and suspense novels, including By His Rules, Take the Long Way Home, and, with Lisa Henry, The Good Boy and When All the World Sleeps. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama and a BA in theater from Case Western Reserve University. J.A. also writes queer fiction and essays under the name Jill Smith. Raised in Ohio and West Virginia, she now lives in Chicago with her dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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