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Dear Writer’s Voice Judges,
Complete at 98,000 words, REALM OF HEROES combines elements of both fantasy and literary fiction into a standalone upmarket contemporary with series potential.
Most Saturdays, Helen dons her wizard costume and defends Thornvaal from evil, reveling in her power to hold back both demon hordes and reality for a few hours. But come Monday morning, the live action roleplaying (LARPing) is over. Helen’s still a star, but in reality most of her energy goes into protecting her son from Louis, her sociopathic brother. Louis runs the business based on her work and controls her financials. She knows she should leave, but she has nowhere to go and no money of her own. And she loves being a celebrity.
When Helen’s ex-lover reappears after a six-year absence, their hurried, secret encounter demonstrates he still knows how to give her exactly what she wants; this time it’s cash and her estranged mother’s phone number. Her real quest begins immediately afterward when she rescues herself and her son. On horseback.
Throughout Realm of Heroes, Helen imagines herself a spunky, witty heroine who must train under a stoic mentor (her mother) and capture the heart of a sexy, untamable man (her ex-lover) before she wrests back her realm from an oppressive usurper (Louis). However, the demons she must battle in the real world are internal. Mental illness, single parenthood, and the constant temptation to return to Thornvaal both inspire and undermine Helen’s quest to get back her royalties, keep her son, and win her freedom.
Sweeping my hair over one shoulder before I sit on a toilet should be instinct. I’ve had butt-length hair for fifteen years, after all. Yet, just now, I didn’t, and the ends dipped into the bowl.
Quoth the Universe: This was a metaphor; please exit your living situation at your earliest convenience. (PS—cut your hair.)
When I go to the medicine cabinet for hair-cutting scissors, I catch my reflection. My eyebrows need plucking in a major way, and I never totally washed off the eye make-up from Saturday night. I look like a junkie. Hell, I feel like a junkie. With the glory of the weekend already worn off, I’m craving another fix just to maintain my basic health. Another moment where the players’ battle cries turn shrill, desperate, terrified as their characters’ fears and desires bleed into, take over their own, and our combined efforts make porous the wall between actual Thornvaal and imaginary Thornvaal moving us as close to magic as we’ll ever get.
Saturday night, I was alive and sparkling as I wandered among the PCs like Henry V. Monday morning, I can’t manage low-level hygine tasks.
“Mom?” Dmitri tugs on my hand. “You’ve been up here half an hour.”
Fuck. I’ve had another “episode” (as a Tennessee Williams character might call it) of staring at nothing, like an android that’s run out of batteries. They happen, well, I hate to use the word “constantly”; “daily” would suffice. At least I didn’t have a flashback this time.