File(s) under permanent embargo
Reason: This is the first 50 pages of a novel that will eventually be published.
There Sleeps Titania: A Novel
These are the first four chapters of There Sleeps Titania, an urban fantasy novel. In chapter one, nerdy young writer Zeb Marlowe returns to his best friend, Wally’s, comic shop after being dumped. He endures some drunken riffing from Buck, a homeless man who always panhandles in front of the shop. Wally tries to encourage Zeb by saying he understands his pain since he and his wife, Joyce, are struggling with infertility, but when Joyce arrives and says she’s pregnant, Zeb withdraws into his own head. In chapter two, over a year has passed. Zeb goes to the shop to work. He finds a tabloid TV crew interviewing Buck about the fabled “Lady in the Woods,” a local legend. While Zeb finds them annoying, he convinces them to let him interview them for the article he’ll send to the local paper. In the shop, Wally gives him a coupon to the Poetry in Motion Ballroom Studio in the hopes of getting Zeb to revitalize his social life. While it takes some persuasion, Zeb reluctantly agrees. While there, Zeb meets a cast of colorful characters, including the disapproving instructor Randy Silen, and the mysterious Ren, a young woman who always hides her face with a medical mask. She brushes off Zeb’s attempt to talk to her, but Zeb determines to learn more about her. In chapter three, Zeb returns to the studio a week later intending to ask Ren out. He faces subtle opposition from Randy, who keeps trying to pull Ren away for a private lesson, but Zeb manages to fight through his doubt and nerves just long enough ask her to meet him at the Grindhouse coffeehouse that Saturday. But his doubts quickly overtake his excitement. In chapter four, Zeb and Ren end up leaving the coffeehouse after dealing with a rude barista and go to the local park. Ren seems to have a supernatural influence on flowers. The two of them are accosted by the TV crew, who ask Ren so many probing questions about the Lady in the Woods, she runs away. Zeb is barely able to catch her.