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Posts Tagged ‘multicultural’

A few months ago, I posted an excerpt from my current WIP (Work-In-Progress), a  middle grade (multicultural) historical fantasy. That snippet had been a dialogue, an active exchange, among several characters in the novel.

This time, I thought I’d post a piece of narrative.

Opinions, critiques, suggestions? Please send them my way!

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          I looked out the window and saw the sky still gathered close in an inky, dark cloak. A soft breeze entered into my room stealthily, and the sheer curtains at the windows billowed in response. The calming scent of raat ki rani – Night Queen – filled the room. Nani had planted that shrub underneath this bedroom’s window when Mom was a child.  

          Taking a deep breath, I began to plump up my pillow getting ready to go back to sleep, but my hands stopped in mid-air. I knew I was alone in the room, but I sensed another presence. Driving away the perfume of the Night Queen, a bitter, oily unpleasantness pervaded the room. Taking shallow breaths, I slowly turned.

          I could barely make out its form, leaning leisurely against the wall next to one of the bookshelves. I scrambled up to the head of my bed, and screamed. Only, no sound came out.

          Clutching the bed sheet to my chin, I waited, unable to peel my eyes away from my shadowed companion. Run! The more intelligent side of my instinct prodded, but my body couldn’t seem to obey. A soft whimper escaped my parted lips.

          A soft glow crept out of nowhere, joining me to the specter in a soft pool of light. It was as if the two of us were on stage in an eerie production and were being spotlighted for an unseen audience crouching in the gloom around us.

          A man, I realized, short and dark-skinned, stood leaning against the wall, arms folded against his chest and ankles crossed loosely. He seemed so much at ease, I wondered for a moment if I were the trespasser. My eyes took in the details, almost unwillingly, as if they had no control.

          He had a trim beard and a shaved upper lip. His hair was rolled into a bun at the nape of his neck and held in place by a small polished wooden stick. He was wearing a white dhoti – a long cloth wrapped around the waist that covers up the legs too – while a light robe, dyed a deep indigo, draped over his left shoulder, leaving his right one bare. He wore shiny beads in his ears. In short, he was dressed as if for a costume party, the theme being ancient India. The sense that I was starring in a drama intensified.

          The man’s body and hair were shining, as if they were oiled. He didn’t look bulky; in fact he was rather small. But one look at his shoulders and hands, with ropes of muscles sticking out, and I knew he could crush me like an empty coke can if he so wished.

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I have seen some writers post snippets from their work-in-progress (WIP) on their blogs last week and found that a cool idea. So, here’s one from my manuscript. (Is my manuscript close to being finished or is it a WIP? The answer to that depends upon the day you’re asking me the question; and that is a topic for a whole series of posts… so, moving on…)

Where was I? Oh, yes, my manuscript — it is a multicultural fantasy, targeted at middle grade children (ages 8 to 13). This also sort of acts as a precursor to the topics I’d like to discuss in the next few days…

Comments? Suggestions? Critiques? They are very welcome – please send them my way!

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             wait for her mother to join us so they could all start grilling us.

kept fidgeting and looking at the doorway, as if she couldn’tMeenagchi

            “Mother!” she finally yelled, making me jump. “Come along,

Mother – everyone is waiting for you.”

            “You have to learn to be patient, Daughter,” her father chided her gently.

            “Yes, Father.” Meenagchi lowered her head, but her tone made

it obvious that it was something she was reminded of constantly.

            For a few minutes everyone was quiet. Then Meenagchi suddenly

turned to Nitu, her eyes intent. “Why would you wish to wander around

in the company of two boys?”

            At first, Nitu looked confused; then her face lit up with amusement

and she grinned in my direction. Ankit pressed his hands to his mouth, trying

hard to smother his giggles.

             The blood rushed up to my face and I glared at Ankit — not that it was

effective in shutting him up or anything. Then I looked down at myself. Here

I was, dressed in a drab pair of pants and a pale colored t-shirt, with my

long hair pulled into a tight ponytail. By contrast, Nitu was dressed in

a bright-colored skirt and a pretty blouse, and her long hair tumbled

loosely over her shoulders.

            I found it annoying, not to mention humiliating, to have to justify my

sense of style, or lack of it, to someone I met only minutes ago.

            I looked up and stammered an explanation. “Um… I’m a girl, too. Girls …

can dress this way, too, in my country.”

            “Really? You are a girl? It never would have occurred to me.” Meenagchi

burst into gales of laughter.

            Frowning, I looked away from her.

            “She doesn’t mean that, Jiya!” Nitu poked me playfully in the ribs,

trying to pacify me.

            Cheliyan, who had been observing the whole exchange with interest,

turned to his sister. “Will you ever learn to behave properly?” However, from

his reddened face I could tell that he had originally mistaken me for a boy,

too. Just great!

            Grinning, Meenagchi flicked away a lock of her hair in response to her

brother’s reproach.

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