THE HIEROPHANT’S DAUGHTER
by M. F. Sullivan
By 4042 CE, the Hierophant and his Church have risen to political dominance with his cannibalistic army of genetically modified humans: martyrs. In an era when mankind\’s intergenerational cold wars against their long-lived predators seem close to running hot, the Holy Family is poised on the verge of complete planetary control. It will take a miracle to save humanity from extinction.
It will also take a miracle to resurrect the wife of 331-year-old General Dominia di Mephitoli, who defects during martyr year 1997 AL in search of Lazarus, the one man rumored to bring life to the dead. With the Hierophant\’s Project Black Sun looming over her head, she has little choice but to believe this Lazarus is really all her new friends say he is–assuming he exists at all–and that these companions of hers are really able to help her. From the foulmouthed Japanese prostitute with a few secrets of her own to the outright sapient dog who seems to judge every move, they don\’t inspire a lot of confidence, but the General has to take the help she can get.
After all, Dominia is no ordinary martyr. She is THE HIEROPHANT\’S DAUGHTER, and her Father won\’t let her switch sides without a fight. Not when she still has so much to learn.
The dystopic first entry of an epic cyberpunk trilogy, THE HIEROPHANT’S DAUGHTER is a horror/sci-fi adventure sure to delight and inspire adult readers of all stripes.
The Disgraced Governess of the United Front was blind in her right eye. Was that blood in the left, or was it damaged, too? The crash ringing in her ears kept her from thinking straight. Of course her left eye still worked: it worked well enough to prevent her from careening into the trees through which she plunged. Yet, for the tinted flecks of reality sometimes twinkling between crimson streaks, she could only imagine her total blindness with existential horror. Would the protein heal the damage? How severely was her left eye wounded? What about the one she knew to be blind—was it salvageable? Ichigawa could check, if she ever made it to the shore.
She couldn’t afford to think that way. It was a matter of “when,” not of “if.” She would never succumb. Neither could car accident, nor baying hounds, nor the Hierophant himself keep her from her goal. She had fourteen miles to the ship that would whisk her across the Pacific and deliver her to the relative safety of the Risen Sun. Then the Lazarene ceremony would be less than a week away. Cassandra’s diamond beat against her heart to pump it into double time, and with each double beat, she thought of her wife (smiling, laughing, weeping when she thought herself alone) and ran faster. A lucky thing the Governess wasn’t human! Though, had she remained human, she’d have died three centuries ago in some ghetto if she’d lived past twenty without becoming supper. Might have been the easier fate, or so she lamented each time her mind replayed the crash of the passenger-laden tanque at fifth gear against the side of their small car. How much she might have avoided!
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Advice for writers
By far and away, the best thing I’ve done for my writing in years was re-develop a consistent reading habit. This is difficult for anyone in an era where a smartphone sits forever at one’s elbow or the roommate’s television is always murmuring (or blasting) one room over—but it is a habit all the more vital to cultivate for these challenges.
I suffered from what I referred to as ‘Reading ADD’ for about seven painful years, from ages seventeen to twenty-four—and wouldn’t you know it, my writing suffered terribly during that same stint. This was the period of time in which I was struggling to write my first published novel, Delilah, My Woman, and draft after draft was a terrible failure. I would finish the whole thing and find myself completely dissatisfied. Each failure brought me closer to the final success, each was a little better than the last—but nothing was ‘right’. And while I acknowledge that these many failed drafts (seven, about) were pivotal in gaining my more mature understanding of what a story was and how to write a good one, I believe now that this process of development might have been hastened if I had been reading regularly.
That wasn’t to say I wasn’t reading at all, of course—but there was an alarming period where I’m sure I wasn’t reading more than ten books a year for a couple of years, most of them slowly. I would start many books, understand, but my ability to finish them was always cratered by a lack of self-discipline. Blame external distraction as much as you like, but the truth is that the choice to interact with a distraction is in fact a choice. The question is one of exerting force of will enough to build a wholesome habit back up.
Delilah, My Woman’s final and most successful draft began when I devoted myself to reading again, and I noticed the difference immediately. DH Lawrence’s Sons & Lovers was a turning point in this. For whatever reason (the exquisite prose!) I was able to read that book start to finish without getting distracted by other, newer books, and that particular book had high impact on my then in-progress debut novel. I realized the mistake I’d been making for the past seven years was one of single-mindedness. I needed to resist starting other books, and I needed to devote myself to reading every day.
So, after the publication process of Delilah began and I quit my job at as a manager at a window and door company (I never have been one for listening to cliched advice!), I built a new routine. Every morning I got up at 4 am and took a walk straightaway, because I was living in Tucson at the time and that was the only time you could walk without being set on fire. Then, I’d come back and take my morning shower, and then I would sit down and read. I made reading the first mental thing I did every day for about six months, until I got comfortable enough in the habit to let it slip anywhere into my day—the fact is I always prefer to write first in the day, but I had to make special consideration for the re-development of my reading.
Ah, the effect of a consistent reading habit on my writing—Stephen King has it right when he says if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write. You really don’t. I don’t believe in writer’s block anymore: writer’s block is secretly reader’s block. It means you aren’t reading enough, or you’re not reading the right things, or you’re not paying attention to your genre’s tropes and/or the world around you. Everything you need to solve your writing problems is already out there, in one form or another. You’ve just got to make it a habit of looking.
ABOUT M. F.
M.F. Sullivan is the author of Delilah, My Woman, The Lightning Stenography Device, and a slew of plays in addition to the Trilogy. She lives in Ashland, Oregon with her boyfriend and her cat, where she attends the local Shakespeare Festival and experiments with the occult. Find more information about her work (and plenty of free essays) at paintedblindpublishing.com!
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