DiOW: Jeile

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

A risky disclosure at the bookstore allows Nevo to welcome another queer to the underground, but Jeile is more mystery than co-conspirator.

Setting: Two years before the beginning of the war referenced in Their Courts of Crows and Maybe When the Bones CrumbleDifferent in Other Ways introduces a brand-new set of characters and circumstances; readers don’t need any familiarity with my other works.

Jeile takes place several months before Booksellers Who Know Things, because I refuse to recognise the validity of something called chronological order.

Content Advisory: Casual swearing; references to classism; references to misogyny, allosexism, cissexism, and heterosexism; casual references to sex and sexual attraction; casual references to asexuality; and depictions of anxiety and avoidant personality disorder as shaped by autism.

Links: Series Master Post | Patreon

Previous: Booksellers Who Know Things | Men Bound by Blood

Length: 3, 351 words.

A quiet day leaves Nevo with a chance to sort, catalogue and price a new lot of books without interruptions from customers. He’ll never admit it, but he finds the work soothing despite its repetition. Take a book, study its condition, check his record books for the prices of similar volumes and notes on rarity, write it in and shelve—preferably, although not always, with other books on the subject. It’s the satisfaction, he supposes, in even small ways of conquering the shop’s tendency to unbridled chaos. He likes cleaning and tidying; he’s never understood, as a son living with his father, why these things are considered unmasculine. What’s unmanly about tolerating unnecessary clutter?

The bell rings as he moves the last of the atlases to their new bottom shelf. Nevo bites back a groan and straightens in time to see a fat person in a plain dress and shawl hesitate just inside the doorway.

“Good mor—noon! Good afternoon. How may I help you?”

Long, straight brown hair falls in a braid down her back; dark eyes rest on scuffed boots peeking out from under the hem of her russet dress and cream petticoats. The dress betrays brighter streaks of red at the bust and side seams where it’s been let out, but it fits her broad chest and heavy arms without bulging or straining, and he sighs in envy. He can darn and patch, salvaging stockings and trousers worn at the knee, but fitting a second-hand shirt large enough for his shoulders without sagging at the waist is a skill beyond him. Is she a seamstress? Something about her looks familiar, but when he thinks back on the tailors, drapers and weavers occupying Devotion Lane, he can’t place her face.

“Good noon.” She doesn’t look up from her boots. Skin midway between olive and sienna darkens at her cheeks and nose, and she clutches a battered leather satchel tight to her side. A braided cord hangs around her neck, damp at the front as though chewed on. Small nose, even teeth, fluttering eyelids, creased brow. Nervous? “I want … I have a list of books. Would you be able to tell me if you have them? Please?”

Her high, stuttering voice sounds a little too clipped for downwall folk, but the clothes are worn by every labouring woman in the Boneyard.

“I can do that, ma’am.” Nevo stays by the shelf, thinking it better if she comes to him, but she flinches as though he moved at her. “I can also take down a list and let you know should we get them in—particularly if you want anything from outside.”

She reaches into the satchel and pulls out a folded, crumpled piece of paper. Only then does she take three steps, moving just far enough that she can extend her hand and let Nevo reach for the sheet, her eyes now fixed on the shelf of atlases. “These ones. Please. It’s for … research. I’m … a student and I’m researching, the, the … the ways of the … their disregard of…”

Nevo takes the list from her fingers, draws his arm back to give her space, unfolds the sheet … and blinks.

Keep reading at Patreon: Jeile

DiOW: Men Bound By Blood

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

Nevo learns his mystery man’s name, but Harper’s slip of the tongue means that Nevo makes a promise to his father he may not be able to keep.

Setting: Two years before the beginning of the war referenced in Their Courts of Crows and Maybe When the Bones CrumbleDifferent in Other Ways introduces a brand-new set of characters and circumstances; readers don’t need any familiarity with my other works.

Content Advisory: Casual swearing, depictions of working-class anxiety and classism, alcoholism as an expression of trauma, references to casual fantasy-style violence. Many references to heterosexism and cissexism.

Links: Series Master Post | Patreon

Previous: Booksellers Who Know Things

Length: 2, 736 words.

“She gave me a list.” Nevo slams his empty mug onto the scratched table, wishing that he dared drink enough to distract himself from Lenlil. “Of everything I’m supposed to do around customers. But I’m also supposed to finish books quicker, and if I don’t she’ll hire someone else because there’s fifty people who want this job and I should be grateful.” He tries not to snarl and fails. “I have to stop what I’m doing and serve, but stopping means I can’t finish everything else she expects finished, and how can I do anything when there’s not enough space? And books get nicked when I can’t properly stack and sort…?” He ends with a strangled exclamation, too frustrated for words.

Da just gives an encouraging grunt.

Except for Nevo’s habit of hiding queer books from outside bulk lots and listing them as school readers when selling to folks in the underground, he’s done as right by Lenlil as anyone can. “And she knows … I think she knows that I need to work somewhere like a bookshop. Not why, exactly … you know?”

He looks across at Da’s craggy face, an older, sunbrowned version of Nevo’s broad forehead and wide-set brown eyes. Tangle-prone blond hair, white skin, thick brows, the kind of height and brawn that makes every bed and doorway in Ihrne a trial and suggests less gentleness than both men own. Nevo knows what he’ll look like at forty: Da.

Perhaps without the eyes oft bloodshot and watery or the tinge of sallowness lurking underneath flushed cheeks.

Perhaps.

“She doesn’t think…?”

Nevo shakes his head. He’s no actor, but thus far his build discourages the speculative whispers plaguing the men Ragen and his boot-lickers like to accuse. If he isn’t working on a build lot surrounded by men discussing women, his appearance undermined by his inability to respond to questions, jokes and attempts to set him up with everyone’s daughters, Nevo needs only avoid obvious displays of interest. Lenlil may be a trial, but Nevo doesn’t fail as badly at masculinity when he spends his days indoors. A bookseller is allowed more space for shyness and awkwardness than a labourer.

“You’re not going to get yourself fucking killed by having words at her?” Da speaks slowly despite the cursing.

Nevo still recollects the days when such words never passed Da’s lips.

“I try hard not to get myself killed, Da.”

Keep reading at Patreon: Men Bound by Blood

DiOW: Booksellers Who Know Things

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

An ordinary day of selling, shelving and mending becomes less ordinary when a mysterious stranger saves Nevo from disaster while asking questions about fairy tales.

Setting: Two years before the beginning of the war referenced in Their Courts of Crows and Maybe When the Bones CrumbleDifferent in Other Ways introduces a brand-new set of characters and circumstances; readers don’t need any familiarity with my other works.

Content Advisory: A gay, quoiromantic man making eyes at another man against a culture of cissexism, heterosexism and working-class anxiety. Non-explicit references to sex and erotic media. Casual swearing.

Links: Series Master Post | Patreon

Length: 1, 783 words.

The tinny, cracked bell rings out. Nevo, smoothing the endpapers of a newly re-covered almanac while wrestling with a desk too small to hold a stack of waiting books, the cashbox and his pot of congealing glue, looks up. Lenlil won’t abide anyone entering her store without an enthusiastic greeting, as much as Nevo doubts most customers welcome it. “Good morning! Morning? Good … noon?”

A stranger, dressed like a man, struts toward Nevo with his green felt cap askew. He winks at the young women giggling over a book’s lurid illustrations—Adelin and Yuissa on break from the drapery around the corner—and beams, crookedly, at Nevo.

Nevo lowers the scraper, smiles and turns. “How can I hel—oh, fuck!”

His elbow smacks into the pile of books.

The man’s gloved hands block the books a heartbeat before they cascade onto the glue. Nevo whisks aside the pot and brush, biting back a string of Da’s more colourful curses. Mending books supposedly brings in more money than sorting and selling them, but then why doesn’t Lenlil invest in a proper workshop? Or at least a desk big enough to hold his record book, the cashbox, glue and a few clamps?

Keep reading at Patreon: Booksellers Who Know Things

Fiction Collection: Aromantic and Autistic

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green and yellow pine trees growing against a mint-hued sky. Scene is overlaid with the aqua/yellow/red stripes of the autistic aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Fiction sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

This is a separate list of all my works featuring autistic and aromantic protagonists. My other aromantic works can be found on my fiction page or at my website.

It’s also worth noting that my protagonists are like to be various combinations of trans, non-binary, multisexual and otherwise-disabled.

Some of these stories do not focus on the aromantic, and one story, Certain Eldritch Artefacts, is more an example of an aromantic not yet knowing it than an aromantic narrative. (Do the alloromantic usually build a successful romantic relationship with an inappropriate crush by first spending a year travelling around another continent?) The sequel, Love in the House of the Ravens, depicts the beginning of Darius’s finding this out…

What if it Isn’t

Cover for "What If It Isn't" by K. A. Cook. Cover shows a colourful pastel fractal/dripping-glass style background, predominantly peach-orange and light blue. The title text, in black serif and antique handdrawn-style type, is framed by three black curlicues. A fourth curlicue borders the author credit at the bottom of the cover and a fifth forms a frame at the top.What if her love is a dull, flickering, rare thing, so insubstantial it makes better sense to disregard it as meaningful? What if her love is quiet and companionate at best while Keiko loves with fairytale passion, a woman who wants and needs to be wanted?

Pretending to be girlfriends while casing an art gallery with Keiko shouldn’t be a problem, but once Jessie realises things have gotten a little too real in the façade they’re showing to the world, the only thing to do is ask.

Contains: A stand-alone, fluffy, contemporary short story about a greyromantic autistic and the beginnings of a QPR.

Links: PDF (read in browser) | Patreon | WordPress | Tumblr

PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions are available for download from Patreon.

Length: 2, 097 words / 6 PDF pages.

Continue reading “Fiction Collection: Aromantic and Autistic”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Eleven

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and failed to fall in love with the companionate. When the right person offers a romantic relationship and he doesn’t understand why yes won’t grace his tongue, the only thing an autistic man can do is ask the Ravens–and hope he can survive the word they give him in return.

Content Advisory: Mentions of ableism/abuse, assault, fantasy violence and wounds, along with an agender, aromantic person of colour being referred to as an insect, and a brief discussion of the ways amatonormativity impacts aromantics in relationships with alloromantics. References to kissing and physical intimacy.

Length: 1, 057 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous

The world makes romance more important than anything, or anyone, else.

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Eleven”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Ten

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and failed to fall in love with the companionate. When the right person offers a romantic relationship and he doesn’t understand why yes won’t grace his tongue, the only thing an autistic man can do is ask the Ravens–and hope he can survive the word they give him in return.

Content Advisory: Discussion of the intersectionality between autistic-targeted ableism and amatonormativity and the ways said ableism make more difficult an acceptance of aromantic identity. This section includes ableism/abuse, assault and self-harm and/or wound mentions.

Length: 940 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous | Next

A word isn’t a gift if you can’t discard it. Keep it, or not, as you want.

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Ten”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Nine

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and failed to fall in love with the companionate. When the right person offers a romantic relationship and he doesn’t understand why yes won’t grace his tongue, the only thing an autistic man can do is ask the Ravens–and hope he can survive the word they give him in return.

Content Advisory: Discussion of the intersectionality between autistic-targeted ableism and amatonormativity and the ways said ableism make more difficult an acceptance of aromantic identity.

Length: 990 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous | Next

Does an inability to conform again need labelling when he owns one dangerous, difficult word—one whose roots touch everything Darius is and will be?

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Nine”