Soft Hearts, Hard Memories now available at Smashwords!
As promised, a physical edition novel will be available very, very shortly thanks to Amazon… but it won’t be the first volume of the Greatshale Chronicles. No sir. It will be, quite out of the blue, Soft Hearts, Hard Memories, a heavily edited and revamped novel originally entitled Bold Curves. It was Aaran’s big foray after her first short story, which I rewrote for the latter named anthology. At the time I was thinking it was too heavy a subject, and I’d never finish it.
Well friends, the times are now and we have arrived. This most certainly is the apocalypse. Children are being told to represent themselves as their own legal council in America. I couldn’t have written anything stranger… except that I did, nearly twenty years ago. Aaran, in Little Glass Soul (part of the Bold Curves Anthology) rescues the first legal child prostitute in the Twin Cities, and what follows is an embittered social argument between those who want into the industry, and those who want out. Aaran aids the latter, and her life is threatened – not a big leap to make.
“Nail you? Sandra paid with her core for that waste,” he spat at me. “What are you worth killing for?”
“Hopin’ you’d know that, wickwalker,” I growled, but felt the strength sap from my limbs. Everything doubled up, and I had to double over with the lightning in my middle and cold thunder that rumbled through my skin. Jassic tore away from my hand and made angry noises at me. The two of them stared at me, and then located a silvery pipe, which came down hard on my left wrist.
I screamed and tried to pull away, but I could hear him talking just under my voice.
“Don’t know who ordered this, but if you had any sense you’d let it be!”
I hadn’t intended to write anything so relevant or topical – these kinds of ideas are still ridiculous to most of civilized society, but not to the world. The story, it seems, needed time to simmer, and I needed some perspective. How does a society that allows its children to be employed by a unionized sex trade survive? I didn’t have the answer when I first drafted this story, but I do now.
It was meeting a new friend that pushed this door fully open. I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: I am Mormon. That is to say, I know that modern revelation is real, and it is achieved by prayer that culminates in a direct relationship with God through the Holy Ghost by the authority and guidance of Jesus Christ. It bears repeating because it is He who confirmed the answer, and that is family, and that’s what this book is about. Aaran is nearly overwhelmed, and almost killed, by the forces who stand against her: The ones who want to allow the exploitation to carry on.
I swallowed, stomach clenching and face warming. The effect hit me fast, memories of my own abuse striking microflares under my skin and in every remotely sexual part of me. Stan wasn’t a bad judge of dramatics, I remembered suddenly, feeling a mixture of girlish vulnerability and vengeful madness in spastic waves.
There were four of them, and sure enough, if I squinted I could… uh… distinguish Krimp, standing off to one side like he was not involved in the event. Yei screamed again, and I tried to focus on faces, instead of the fact of their stripping her down and pawing her tiny body. I wanted to speak up, tell them I recognized Krimp… but by Dodge, my voice was deadlocked.
This is a political novel, even though it is set on another world with different people and advanced technologies. What does not change is human nature, or rather – the divine nature of who we are and the choices we face. If you’re still gawking at the idea that a Mormon could write about government sanctioned child exploitation, then you’d best sit down. Accepting God can grant you an understanding of the bigger picture, and the eternal nature of our lives. We are here to learn, and family is the key means by which we are guided to achieve exultation.
The fact that we’ve made so much noise about Trump’s attack on family – any family means all of them – tells me we’re not quite out of hope yet. Well friends, neither is Aaran. As uncomfortable as this all is, we’re backsliding into an amoral world where all things are acceptable because no one believes that we should be accountable for our actions. We know what we’re choosing, and we know why we get up in the morning.
You may be surprised to learn this book is a vote of confidence for society, even if it is a little bloodstained, tear-dyed and haggard. When we stop caring, the world gets a little darker. So, I present to you this tale of morality and tough choices.
“But they took Daelia!” Amanda shrieked from her niche. “It were one man! You din’t stop ‘im!”
“I tried!” I cried, speechless and overwhelmed. Maybe I could have told her how much I wanted to save all of them, all their friends, and just sweep them all away to a better place. Maybe it was best that I hadn’t. Instead I asked Amanda how she was feeling, doing.
“They can’t take me,” she said. “I don’ eat’n don’ talk neith’r… t’ make ‘em not want me. In dis cage we’re all want’d.”
I was flabbergasted. She understood perfectly.
We must not lose sight of the truth; we do not stand alone. We never have.