Eggs For the Ageless
by Kyle A. Massa
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
What readers are saying:
“A fantasy comedy that swims in similarly madcap waters as works by Terry Pratchett and Christopher Moore, Massa’s novel coolly and deftly introduces a farcical setting that reflects the absurdity of today’s world, brimming with commentary on religion, capitalism, and writing.” – Kirkus Reviews
“A riot of a book where the characters amuse while offering cutting critiques of human nature (and god nature?). Light as well as insightful. A triumph.” – Kate Tailor, Benjamin Franklin Award Winning Author
Or rather, she scribbled words on paper, frowned, then crossed them out.
The Almighty Penguin waddled into the distance, Egg wrote, nearly tearing the page with the ink-wet tip of her quill. And like a pastry hurled from a platter, it vanished into the distance.
She eased back, swept her bushy brown hair from her eyes, admired the words for a moment, then shook her head and crossed them out.
A pastry hurled from a platter? That was a weird simile. Maybe she was just hungry. And waddling off into the distance? Too cliché. This was the summation of years of work, the final line of her first finished book. It needed to be memorable, moving, and above all, not crappy. So Egg tried a new closing sentence:
“We shall meet again,” said the Almighty Penguin. “Someday soon.”
No. No no no. She slashed that, too. Made it seem like she was setting up a sequel, and she hated when authors did that. So presumptuous. At least let readers ask for another book before you go forcing it on them.
“Subtle,” she whispered to the page. “We need to be more subtle. And maybe even a little profound, if we can swing it.”
“Who are you talking to?” someone asked.
Egg sat upright and donned her most genial smile. The someone who’d spoken was a man seated in the sand beside her, a round and jowly type who smelled of perfume or ale, depending on the moment. They’d met a few hours prior, but Egg had already forgotten his name. Boffer, maybe. Or Boofer?
“Were you talking to me?” the man asked.
“No, Mr., umm…Boogler…” She thought better of answering truthfully, so she finished with, “…I was just warming up my voice. For the call-and-answer bit.”
“My name is Bowler,” the man corrected. He took a practiced swig from a flask in his pocket. “Mayor Bowler. What are you writing about, there?”
You’re a tad nosy, Mayor Bowler, Egg thought, though she didn’t say it. Instead, she tried her smile again. “Just, umm, taking notes.” She waved toward the makeshift dais before them, where the Holy Devoted was busy reading some story of self-righteous dopes from a chunky book called The Everything (the only book Egg had ever disliked).
Bowler blinked at the stack of paper mounted atop Egg’s lap. “That’s a lot of notes.”
It’s been a long service, she thought. Two hours, according to the nearby timekeeper’s hourglass, and the Holy Devoted had only just gotten to the introduction of the Ageless. Bowler gave Egg a parting hiccup before returning his attention to the oration.
Around them dozed the Quaint Village of Quaint. It was a pleasant smattering of sun-baked sandstone houses encircling a fountain carved into the likeness of Florinioniorius, God of Creation. He held a quill aloft that, if you believed the Holy Devoteds, was the quill used to write the world and everyone in it. Long ago, water had spouted from the nib. Now, however, it was dry as the sands surrounding it.
On the dais between the fountain and the onlookers (actually a creaky wooden box, but “dais” sounded fancier), Holy Devoted Sarene graced the boiling morning air with her voice, enunciating every syllable with precision and clarity. Her reading was flawless, as ever. If only her material was less tedious.
“And so Lira, Goddess of Order, and Florinioniorius, God of Creation, had 10 children,” Sarene intoned. “And those 10 children, along with their mother and father, would be the foremost of the Ageless, the Greater Gods and Goddesses. They would be the Dozen.”
“The Dozen,” the villagers repeated.
“And many more Ageless would be born of Lira and Florinioniorius, and though they too would be divine, they would be known as the Lesser Gods and Goddesses.”
“The Lesser,” the villagers repeated.
“And so all the Ageless, the Dozen and the Lesser, guide the lives of mortals. They make our world whole.”
“They make our world whole,” the villagers repeated.
“Except for Hylus, God of the Sun,” Sarene clarified, “who has left the sun in the sky for these past 50 years, and shall not move it until we mortals prove our worth.”
“Until we prove our worth,” the villagers repeated.
By the way, Egg wasn’t listening to any of this. It was too nice a day. The sun was fat and bloated and unsinking as ever, but for now it hid behind a flock of puffy white clouds. The air was stifling, as usual, but a nearby fanbearer churned some breeze (Egg made a mental note to give the guy a tip). Plus, a sunbird had joined them, settling on the eave of a nearby house. It listened for a moment, trilled, then departed. Egg tried and failed to suppress her envy.
Anyhoo, back to writing. She twirled her quill around and around like a real, honest-to-goodness writer must do. Unfortunately, when she looked down, she realized she’d splattered ink across the topmost page.
Oh dear, she thought.
She fumbled the quill and dropped it, which stained the paper further, plus got ink on her robes.
Oh crap, she thought.
She scooted to retrieve the quill, which displaced the stack of paper upon her lap. The pages slipped and scattered everywhere, fluttering away like so many leaves, and in her haste to catch them, she kicked the ink pot beside her. It tumbled across the sand, leaving a black smear in its wake. Droplets of ink spattered over everyone seated too close—including Bowler, the village’s Mayor.
She thought she’d thought that. But when Egg felt eyes on her—several dozen pairs of them—she realized she hadn’t. Those words had slipped out.
The entire village of Quaint, all here for the oration. All staring at her.
She rose. She tried summoning her genial smile, but managed only a guilty grimace. The stares had turned to glares, from an ink-stained Mayor Bowler, from the other ink-stained villagers, even from the clean ones, and also…
Egg gulped. Also from Holy Devoted Sarene.
There was no Goddess of Disapproval, but if there was, Sarene would’ve been her. She was stern and severe with a heron’s build and differently colored eyes: one brown, one blue. Her head was shaven, revealing a smooth scalp with a halo of runic tattoos—12 of them, each representing one of the Dozen Gods and Goddesses.
“Child,” Sarene said. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Egg tried to speak, but the sound came out as a sputter.
“She’s taking notes,” Mayor Bowler grumbled. “Allegedly.”
The Devoted did not react. She didn’t even blink. “You’ve made an unholy mess, Zeggara. Have you anything to say for yourself?”
“Yes. I have something to say for myself. I say I’d rather be writing than sitting here, because writing makes me happier than moping around every day for hours on end, listening to stories I don’t believe and joining rituals I don’t care for. I say maybe I believe something else, or would at least like the opportunity to do so. Also, I say you’re overstating the state of this mess—I’ve done worse. That’s what I say.”
…Well, that’s what Egg would’ve said, if she’d had the courage. But she didn’t. Instead, she squeaked three words:
“I don’t know.”
Holy Devoted Sarene was intimidating enough. It didn’t help that she also happened to be Egg’s mother.
Q: Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I think being a good reader is essential to being a good writer. As such, I read every day, either straight from a book or via audiobook (listening to an audiobook is still reading, no matter what some might say).
Though fantasy is my favorite genre, I’ll read pretty much anything so long as the author and/or subject matter intrigues me. A few recent favorites:
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
Novelist as a Vocation by Haruki Murakami
Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
As you can see, my reading is eclectic. That bears out in my writing, too; my first book was a supernatural murder mystery, my second was a collection of short stories, my third was the comedic epic fantasy Eggs for the Ageless, and my next will be a collection of humorous nonfiction essays.
I wonder what I should write after that. A cookbook, maybe?
Q: Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I enjoy working on several projects simultaneously. This is for a few reasons.
First, I need to brainstorm my projects. A lot. I spend countless hours imagining who my characters are, where they are, and what they do while they’re there. This oftentimes sparks ideas for other stories, and pretty soon the brainstorm has become a brain-hurricane, whipping through several ideas all at once.
Second, I find this strategy helps prevent writer’s block. If I write myself into a corner on Project A, I can lateral to Project B. When I stall again, I can switch back to Project A with a fresh mindset. Or, I arrive at Project Q, with each of the previous projects only a quarter-finished. But hey, at least I’m writing.
Third, I find that most of my books require complete rewrites. My process is usually to write a first draft, forget about it for months, return to it, and hate it. Then I rewrite the whole thing from scratch, usually liking it a little better. However, I need something else to do while the first draft sits. That’s where my other projects come in.
I’m not sure I’d recommend my process to other writers, since it’s scattershot and clutters my hard drive with half-finished projects. Still, like any writing advice, I recommend trying it and seeing if it works for you.
Kyle A. Massa is a comic fantasy author living somewhere in upstate New York with his wife, their daughter, and three wild animals. His published works include three books and several short stories. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, running, and drinking coffee.
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