Good Morning!

November 3, 2014

I’m Connor Wright, fortified with toast and leftover Halloween candy, and here to talk about I Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills, just released into the wild today.

 

John Coulthart made this gorgeous cover from the bits and bobs I plucked from the lint trap of my brain.

 

I Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills started life mostly as a way for me to have a character who responded to “[Noun] be with you,” with “And also with you.” no matter what the [noun] might be. That was the idea, anyway, but as usual with my stories, it soon took on a life of its own.

My own interest in liturgy and ritual, in what-ifs and what-would-the-world-be-like-ifs, helped it expand and take shape as an alternate-universe historical. I also tried to take the trope of an older, more experienced person protecting a young newbie and turn it on its head, though it ended up being more of a mutual sort of thing (which was fine with me).

As for what ILUMETTH is about, well. Here’s a blurb and an excerpt.

Justinian Clark, a new-minted journeyman scribe, has a lot of faith: Faith in God goes without saying; faith in the orderly workings of the universe; faith in the administrative minutiae that ticks along in the background of his life. That minutiae has brought him to Saint Gabriel and All Angels cathedral, where he is assigned to assist Brother Ezekiel Frost.

Ezekiel Frost, a ten-year veteran of The Eternal Brotherhood of the Guardians of the Church of Greater Anglia, is quite comfortable with his routine: helping the people of St. Gabriel’s parish, annoying the archdeacon, and not getting too used to his assistants. While he doubts that having a complete novice assigned to him will change this pattern in any way, he resolves to make the best of it.

Between exorcisms, murders, the attention of something, and an overly-observant child, Justinian and Ezekiel have no time to settle into a comfortable routine. Nothing is as certain as they once believed, and they can only hope their faith will see them through.

 

 

BROTHER EZEKIEL Frost surveyed the knot of new journeymen awaiting assignment and wondered, with a decided lack of enthusiasm, which of them was to be his new assistant. One face in particular—round, young—caught his eye, and he leaned over to whisper to the woman standing beside him. “I thought the scribes all had to be of age.”

“They are,” she said, jabbing him with her elbow as a shuffling sound at the front of the room turned into a sharp rapping on a lectern. “Sh.”

“Good morning,” Archdeacon Gladwyn said, nodding as everyone replied. “As we all know why we’re here, I shan’t waste any time. Scribe Hobbs to Sister Adams. Scribe Jenkins to Sister Arnold. Scribe Bekins to Brother Baskin. Scribe Clark to Brother Frost. Scribe….”

Ezekiel pursed his lips as the scribe he’d noticed—Clark—reacted to having his name called by dropping the pencil he held. He forced a smile onto his face, however, and crossed the short distance to Clark. “Brother Frost,” he said, holding out his hand.

“Um, Scribe Clark,” the young man said, reaching out to shake Ezekiel’s hand before he realized he was holding the pencil he’d retrieved; he plucked it out with his free hand and finally made contact. “Sorry.”

“That’s all right.” Ezekiel’s opinion rose a little on the strength of Clark’s grip. “Let’s go find something to eat. I had to miss breakfast for this, and I imagine you probably didn’t eat anything either.”

“I…. What about assignments? Isn’t the archdeacon going to—”

Ezekiel shook his head and turned toward the door. “I’ve got my assignment already, and Gladwyn bores me to tears.”

Clark flinched and dropped his pencil again. “I…. You…. Um.”

“I said it.” Ezekiel looked over his shoulder. “You know where the dining hall is, yes?”

“No. Not… not really.” Clark straightened up and put the pencil in his pocket. “We arrived only yesterday.”

Tch. Because it’s so much easier to learn where things are if it’s just one more thing you have to know,” Ezekiel grumbled, then shook his head and started for the door. “Not your fault.”

“What?”

“You’re expected to learn the layout of the cathedral—without a map—as well as who you’ll be assisting and how to get fed and whether you’ve got to make friends with a horse and all the other little things that make up life around here. Gladwyn really ought to let the new faces have a few days to at least learn how to get to the privies and the dining hall before the rest of it comes down on them.” Ezekiel opened the door and stepped into the corridor beyond. “Come on, let’s begin the process of getting on one another’s nerves.”

“Oh,” Clark said, following in Ezekiel’s wake like a confused kitten.

 

 

JUSTINIAN CLARK fidgeted with his fork, still wondering what Brother Frost had meant by his nerves statement. The badge on the man’s right sleeve featured a sword, point down, most of which was hidden by a shield. The shield was plain, with a simple cross in the center; the cross itself was surmounted by a simple gold cross: the symbol of the Brotherhood of Guardians. Which meant that Brother Frost was responsible for defending everyone against anything… unholy. Which in turn meant that—Frost was speaking to him. “I’m terribly sorry, what?”

“I simply said that I’m not much for titles, so I only use them when I must. You may call me Ezekiel, and I’ll call you something other than Clark if it’s all the same to you.” Ezekiel raised his eyebrows.

“I, um, all right. Justinian.” No one from the Brothers and Sisters of the Quill had warned him that this might happen. Oh, they’d told him not to be upset if he wasn’t treated with much respect at first, but that was entirely different.

“Justinian. Good. First thing you should know about me—and I’ve already demonstrated this—is that I’m likely to shock or offend you sooner rather than later.”

“I see.”

Ezekiel adjusted the alignment of a slice of bacon relative to the edge of a piece of bread on his plate. “If it’s sooner, and if it’s something you really don’t want to deal with, say so. No sense in the two of us trying to work things out if neither of us is interested. It never ends well.”

Justinian wondered if there was some history behind Ezekiel’s warning, but he didn’t ask. “I only just met you,” he pointed out instead.

“That may be, but—look, I haven’t had the best luck with my assistants in the past,” Ezekiel said, his mouth pulling askew in remembered distaste, “so I’m just trying to make sure no one is surprised by anything.”

“All right,” Justinian said, then decided to change the subject. He tilted his head to the side and pointed with his fork at the badge on Ezekiel’s right sleeve. “You’re a Guardian. What’s your assignment?”

“I am indeed a member of The Eternal No-Longer-A-Brotherhood of the Guardians of the Church of Greater Anglia.” Ezekiel paused for a moment, his expression holding a touch of amusement. “As for our assignment, well…. I’m not entirely sure, yet, as I ducked out of Gladwyn’s lecture and haven’t gone to look for messages for me today.”

Justinian blinked and shook his head, frowning over his breakfast. Ezekiel’s modification of the group’s name was not incorrect, given that they had admitted Sisters to their ranks for nearly a century. “You said you knew what your assignment was,” he said, trying to keep accusation and panic out of his voice.

“And I do, in the general sense.” Ezekiel shrugged. “I’m a Guardian, therefore it stands to reason that I’ll be guarding. The fiddly bits, where and from what and when, that I don’t know—outside of the circuit I normally ride, anyway. Important question for you, by the way.”

“I… I think I see why you’ve had some, um, difficulty. With other assistants.” Justinian wondered what would happen if he dared to ask the archdeacon for reassignment. “Yes?”

“Have you ever seen anyone or anything that’d died?”

He shook his head again and forced himself to eat some of his food. “No. Not really.”

“Hm.”

“Is that—”

“It’s always a possibility.”

Justinian pushed his plate away. “Oh.”

“But on the other hand, I’ve also spent months doing nothing more exciting than traveling between libraries, sorting through hundreds of fusty old books and scrolls and fragments, and seen nothing worse than the occasional dried-up husk of an ancient mouse.” Ezekiel pointed at Justinian’s plate. “You should eat. Learn to take advantage of food when you have it, because you’ll miss it when you’re caught in a downpour a day and a half from someone else’s cooking.”

“Um.”

“Consider this your second introductory warning,” he said, not unkindly. “I’m not trying to make you miserable, but one thing I know about myself is that I am not the valiant, dashing, laugh-in-the-face-of-danger kind of man that the Brotherhood likes to pretend we are in order to dazzle boys and girls into our ranks.”

“You’re quite sure about that?” Justinian said, pressing his lips together afterward. Ezekiel’s laughter startled him and he ducked his head, then continued, “I’m not miserable. Yet.”

“I see. Well, then. Once we’re done here, I’ll drag you along to find out exactly what we’re expected to be doing.”

6 Responses to “Good Morning!”

  1. Theo says:

    Hello to you!

    I love the cover. I would probably buy it based on cover alone, LOL. In what period is this story set?

  2. Carolyn says:

    Hello, Connor. Happy release day! I’d read the blurb before (and as Theo said, was drawn in by that cover) and thought this was definitely a read for me. Nice to get some background on it now.

  3. CJWright says:

    Theo: John Coulthart did an AMAZING job on the cover. I’ll probably post a couple of the things I sent him when I was trying to describe what I wanted so you can see just how amazing he is.

    The time period is Victorian, essentially — 1850-ish.

  4. CJWright says:

    Carolyn: Thank you! I hope you enjoy it.

  5. Doris L says:

    oooh I’m going to like this!!

  6. JJ says:

    Lovely cover and the sword implies action in the book.

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