Note: Originally posted over at The BookYArd Blog.
Today I’m giving away one of my few signed ARCs of WORDLESS, my debut book, so pardon me while I wax arm-chair-philosophical. (Or you can just scroll down and enter the giveaway.)
Since I’m writing books about the (super-) power of words—people with the ability to speak and have their words literally manifest in real life—and since I’m, you know, a writer, it’s always fun to think about words and why they fascinate me.
I think it boils down to this: words are powerful. From a simple sentence, a whole world of ideas can be born. And they can be used for good or evil: inspiration, lies, love, hate.
I’ll be frank with you—I started out on the evil sides of things, back when I was five years old. I was a habitual liar. It was a revelation that I could open my mouth, say something, and have people believe it was true when it was anything but. As a generally powerless kid (like most) who was told when to go to bed, take a bath or eat my vegetables, I suddenly discovered I had immense influence. Did I eat all of the candy in the cupboard? No. Was I sick and needing to stay home from school? Yes. Did I draw a treasure map on the couch in permanent marker? No sir-ee. Did I live on a farm populated with a ridiculous menagerie of animals? Why, yes I did.
I felt like a god. Of course, some people didn’t believe me, but they just exchanged knowing looks with a nearby adult. When you’re a kid, people let you get away with this stuff.
Except for my grandma, who, after she asked if I was trying to thieve a stuffed-animal from her house and I said no, called me out on it, made me take it out from under my shirt and put it back where I’d gotten it. Yes, yes, I tried to steal from my grandma. Evil five-year-old, remember? Still, I’ve never been so ashamed.
And good for her for humiliating the heck out of me and sending my little power trip crashing to the ground. Because lying might be somewhat funny when you’re five and can only inflict minor damage on gullible friends and siblings. Adults are mostly impervious and accept such childish behavior with an, “Oh, is that so, dear?” (…Unless you’ve been drawing on the couch in permanent marker. Then your mother gets PISSED.) But what happens when you’re in school later, and you tell someone they’re ugly? Stupid? Worthless? What happens when you’re an adult and you tell someone that you love them…and you don’t? What happens when you claim “she wanted it”? What happens when you tell an entire country that a certain race of people is lesser than yours?
Very bad things, that’s what happens. Evil, if you will. But words are like SCIENCE (cue darkly dramatic music). There’s not always a mad scientist cackling in the background over chemical weapons and atomic bombs. Cures for diseases are discovered, computers invented, washing machines gifted to the people of earth. (Seriously, have you ever had to wash all of your clothes by hand? It royally sucks and takes half of the day.)
Words are like that. So much potential. We can create worlds… or destroy someone else’s, all with words. And that kind of power is still fascinating to me. These days, I like creating worlds in the form of novels, which is essentially a glorified but a mostly harmless form of lying for other people’s entertainment—the difference is that I now call it fiction from the get-go. (Thanks Grandma, for not putting up with my sh*t.)
And so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that my first published book is about living Words: god-like people saying, “Flame,” and making things burn; people saying, “Die,” and watching someone topple over; people saying, “Live,” and letting them stand up again. And even less surprising is that there’s a kid without words at the heart of it all, feeling powerless and wondering how much better life would be if he only he had such power.
How, indeed? Because, while words are powerful, it’s all about how they’re used.
Now you can enter the giveaway!
“The Gods made their Words into flesh, giving privileged individuals the powers of creation…”
In Eden City, a member of the illiterate wordless class would never dream of meeting the all-powerful Words … much less of running away with one. So when a gorgeous girl literally falls into his lap during a routine trash run, seventeen-year-old Tavin Barnes isn’t sure if it’s the luckiest or worst day of his life. That girl is Khaya, the Word of Life, who can heal a wound or command an ivy bush to devour a city block with ease. And yet she needs Tavin’s help.
By aiding Khaya’s escape from the seemingly idyllic confines of Eden City, Tavin unwittingly throws himself into the heart of a conflict that is threatening to tear the world apart. Eden City’s elite will stop at nothing to protect the shocking secret Khaya hides, and they enlist the other Words, each with their own frightening powers, to bring her back.