Excerpt: ‘The Bakeneko’ by Holly Kench

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Holly Kench is well known for her hilarious comic strips about her alter-ego, Olive, but did you know she can write creepy YA, and haunting adult Literature, both based on Japanese folklore? Well, she certainly can! I was lucky to receive two submissions from Holly and I love both stories dearly. Here’s an excerpt from The Bakeneko (YA):

The Bakeneko

I huddled in my bed, my quilt pulled up around my neck as though the warmth of the fabric could protect me. I couldn’t stop shivering as I watched and waited.

The family cat, Ayumu, sat at the end of my bed, licking his paw. Unconcerned by my rising terror, he stood up, padded around the end of my bed in a circle, and sat back down. Without warning, his head shot up, tilted to one side and his feline eyes, which were always a little too human, bore into mine.

I shuddered in anticipation. Without moving his gaze from mine, the cat’s limbs elongated. Smoke, appearing from nowhere, swirled around him and his body started to transform. The ears on his head sunk into his skull, as his head grew bigger. The smoke thickened and wisps of it flew towards me, stinging my eyes and catching in my throat. Coughing, I threw my hands up over my face, losing sight of the cat for the briefest second.

When I lowered my hands, Ayumu was nowhere to be seen. Instead, next to my bed stood a man, at least seven-feet tall, with long, loose black hair that floated around his head and danced with the smoke surrounding his body. There was something wrong with his face. Staring, I realised it wasn’t a man’s face I was looking at, rather a cat’s face overlaid with that of a man, creating a weird duality of which my mind couldn’t quite make sense.

“We are bakeneko,” the creature’s voice boomed across my bedroom. Smoked tendrils dashed out, licking inches from my face.

~*~

Holly Kench is a writer and feminist, with a classics degree and a fear of spiders.

She enjoys writing a range of genres, but has a particular love of fantasy. Holly seeks stories that contemplate the world as much as books that provide escape, but doesn’t think the two are mutually exclusive. These are the sort of stories Holly tries to write. She is convinced we can change the world through popular culture.

Holly manages Visibility Fiction, a project dedicated to the promotion and publication of inclusive young adult fiction. Visibility Fiction began as a result of Holly’s desire to create a space that celebrated and facilitated the telling of stories with diverse characters. In this capacity she has had the privilege of working with both Kelly Matsuura and Joyce Chng, who have assisted her in a journey of not only editing, but also writing her own stories exploring diverse cultures.

Holly also writes about her life as a stuffed olive at: www.stuffedolive.com.au.

~*~

Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories, is available from:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

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Add on Goodreads

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Read More Excerpts:

Megumi’s Quest by Joyce Chng

Restoration by Chris Ward

Towards the Light by Aislinn Batstone

Moon Shadow by Kelly Matsuura

Kitsune by Heather Jensen

Sanctuary by Chris White

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Excerpt: ‘Megumi’s Quest’ by Joyce Chng

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Joyce Chng’s story, Megumi’s Quest is the second story in Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories. I met Joyce through Visibility Fiction and really love her edgy, Asian, urban-fantasy short stories. She’s a great YA writer and I’m thrilled to have her work in this anthology 😀

Here’s the opening scene:

Megumi’s Quest

Megumi heaved herself up the cliff, her fingers raw and tender from gripping the sharp-edged nooks and crevices. Her thighs felt as if they were on fire. Beside her, the wolf, Tetsu, tackled the ledges with surefootedness, his tongue lolling out of his mouth as he panted.

Once over this cliff, we will be done with the challenge, she told herself.

She pushed up, up, up, and finally reached the top, panting. At least, her spiritual body was far healthier and agile than her physical body, connected via a tenuous silver cord. Megumi glanced at Tetsu who joined her, his tail wagging slowly. His ears flicked upright, twitching at the slightest of sounds.

We find the eggs now, the white-blue wolf said in her mind.

“Yes, the eggs that bred the monster.” Megumi placed her hand on Tetsu’s plush, soft fur. “Let’s go. Time is running out.”

Already the lumps on her body were spreading. She looked at them with disgust and focused wholly on her journey.

~*~

 Singaporean, but with a global outlook, Joyce Chng write science fiction and fantasy, YA and urban fantasy. Her fiction has appeared in the Apex Book of World SF II, We See A Different Frontier, Visibility Fiction, Crossed Genres and Bards & Sages, to name a few. Her urban fantasy novels are written under her pseudonym, J. Damask (which she will tell you are a play on her Chinese name). The Rider trilogy, a YA SF, will be published by Math Paper Press, an imprint of Books Actually, an independent bookstore in Singapore.

She can be contacted at A Wolf’s Tale: (http://awolfstale.wordpress.com)

Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories is now available from:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

~*~

Add on Goodreads

~*~

Read More Excerpts

Restoration by Chris Ward

Towards the Light by Aislinn Batstone

The Bakeneko by Holly Kench

Sanctuary by Chris White

Moon Shadow by Kelly Matsuura

Kitsune by Heather Jensen

JUST RELEASED! ‘Insignia Vol.1: Japanese Fantasy Stories’

The first Insignia anthology is now available from Amazon.com (and other Amazon sites). for just $2.99!

Congratulations to all the contributing authors: Aislinn Batstone, Joyce Chng, Heather Jensen, Holly Kench, Chris Ward, and Chris White. I’d really like to thank them all for their wonderful stories, assistance with proofreading and marketing, and for their great support in the project.

Over the next few days, I’d like to introduce the authors a little and share a sample of each story. For now, please browse the Amazon book page and this blog, and feel free to share the posts/links with your friends!

Cheers!

Kelly Matsuura (Editor)

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Available Now From:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon JP

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Add on Goodreads