Monday, October 9, 2017

Eelgrass Book Tour and Excerpt

Hi, everyone! I've got a guest post for you today from Tori Curtis, who is celebrating the year anniversary of her novel Eelgrass.

I’m Tori Curtis, and last year I published my debut f/f fantasy novel, Eelgrass. It’s a coming of age story about selkies, a beautiful (and terrifying) mermaid, and how brave you have to be to protect your friends.

In Eelgrass, a lesbian reimagining of Irish folktales, Efa and Bettan spend their days roving the sea and shore. The other selkies in their village say it will soon be time for them to settle down and find husbands. Then Bettan disappears into a rainstorm. Despite the other villagers’ reassurances, Efa can't shake the certainty her friend’s been taken.

To rescue Bettan, she must leave behind the shallow waters of her home and find the fishwives. These half-human fish seduce men with song and devour them with sharp teeth. She doesn't expect to find Ninka, an outrageous young woman who makes her feel giddy and who might be the key to unlocking her own courage.

Today, I’m going to share an excerpt from the beginning of the book.

They walked to the middle of the room and took a table next to the sailors. Mary brought them each a bowl of stew, a mug of beer, and a small loaf of the coarse dark bread she made. Efa was starving. She started immediately on the stew, which was rich and thick with clams. Bettan sipped her beer, smoothed her dress, looked out of the corners of her eyes at the men around them.

"You're going to scare them if you keep on like that," Efa said.

"I'm sure they're brave." Bettan said it like the idea appealed.

"Me, too, but you can be intimidating."

Bettan rolled her eyes, but settled in her seat. She even broke off a piece of bread and dipped it in her stew.

And then, sure enough, one of the sailor boys turned to her. He was handsome, with mussed hair, warm brown skin and a charming smile. Efa wanted to like him. Then he said, "No one told me the girls were so pretty here," and she had to stop herself from laughing.

"I told you," said one of his friends, a grisly fellow with a wind-chapped face. "You spend enough time at sea and any old hag'll be easy on your eyes."

Bettan gasped at the insult, and the game began. The boys fell over themselves to assure her that she was the loveliest thing they'd ever seen. She looked at them with coy eyes and laid her delicate hands on their biceps. Efa savored the big chunks of fish in her stew and gulped her beer with relish. Before she knew what was happening they'd shoved their tables together and were three verses into a bawdy drinking song. Bettan had that effect on people.

By the time Efa finished her food (and the rest of Bettan's - she was too busy making friends to focus on it) they had convinced the Hogfish's fiddler to play a jaunty tune, and Bettan was doing her level best to dance with everyone. Efa watched them from over the rim of her mug. This was all tradition by now. Bettan got to flirt, and Efa got to make fun of her afterwards. That way they were both happy.

An old man's drink thudded hard on the table next to her.

Efa looked up and was relieved to discover that he wasn't interested in her in particular. He was just languid, feeling all right, having a good time with his pals. From the stench of him she suspected he'd brought his own something to imbibe in between sips of beer. "But the most beautiful girl I ever saw-" he started.

("Not this one again," said one of the younger men.)

"-was a vicious she-wyrm from the darkest depths!"

Efa couldn't help herself. "A serpent?"

"Eh," said one of the others. "He gets a little poetic when he's, you know."

"We try not to encourage him," agreed a third.

But she was fascinated. She leaned in, and she could see the strands of his beard like a boar's hair brush.

"She was a fishwife," he said. "A fine woman, stark naked in the water, and then, right here," he tapped his hipbone, "where things start to get interesting, poof! A fish!"

Down the table, a scrawny youth jeered, and Efa barely heard his words. "I'd bet you can still find something interesting to do with one of those. She's still got-"

"I didn't know fishwives were real," she said, barely able to form the words over her blush. People told stories about them, but then, people told stories about kings, too. She'd never known anyone who'd met one.

"As real as you are," he said, and pinched her arm playfully. "I was near sixteen, just a lad, been to sea no more than a year. One night there was this dreadful storm, and as it let up I saw her by moonlight."

"I thought they travelled in schools," Efa said, "like fish."

"Ah!" he said, and his eyes were wide and bloodshot, those of a man who had lived long enough to gray without a woman to look after him. "But not all fish hide beneath the others. Imagine a fish the likes of which your fishermen would die to catch, a fish that rules all else."

She nodded.

"Now think of the fish who lives to eat that fish. That's a fishwife, my girl."

"When they group together, they sink ships, don't they?" Bettan asked, startling Efa. The music had stopped; she was back at the table, a man's arm around her waist.

Efa had heard those stories before. She wasn't surprised by the murmurs of agreement around the table. "But how?" she asked. "They're just fish-people. They don't have-"

"What does it matter, how?" Bettan said, merry. "They destroy. It's in their nature."

"They ensnare you," the sailor said, quick to turn the subject back to himself. "I stood on deck and watched her, and she stared back with these black eyes, as dark as the places a drowned man sinks - eyes like yours." He pointed at Bettan, though by their eyes Efa and Bettan were indistinguishable. "And then she began to sing."

Thank you so much for reading!  

You can get a copy of Eelgrass here: link
Visit my website at
Or follow me on twitter @tcurtfish
And Sapphic Book Club is going to be reading Eelgrass for November 2017, so I hope you get the chance to be a part of that.

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