From the Diary of Kasdya (Keep out! Harriet, this means you! 😠)

My mother always told me I was an angel.

Okay, had to put my pen down for a minute, I was laughing so hard reading what I just wrote. I don’t mean that in some sappy, warm and fuzzy way. I mean like an actual, literal angel — beautiful, terrifying, fire and brimstone, the whole bit. She used to say that with our power anyone could see we were born to rule, but our cousins had chosen instead to serve those less worthy than they were, to make themselves into slaves to a thing that didn’t even exist because they were too afraid to face the obvious truth that there is no power in the universe greater than we are, and that because of this it is our right — and responsibility — to rule.

My mom tends to go on like that sometimes. It’s kind of cool, but also kind of not? Anyway, she is definitely an angel. Why else would I be so scared of her? As for me… I mean, on the one hand it just makes sense: My mother is an angel, my father is an (extremely creepy) angel, even my idiot brother is an angel, therefore I am an angel — Q.E.D. But lately I’m not so sure anymore. I guess I have you to thank for that, just like I have you to thank for whatever the hell is going on with my eyes. Before I followed you up that stupid tree it never occurred to me to think I’m not exactly what my mother told me I was. But now…

They could have been lying. An angel can lie, I know that much. But the thing that keeps bugging me is that I can’t figure out what reason they would have had to lie to me about that. To make you pity me? Your Insufferable Highness had already made it crystal clear that’s how you felt about me, and to tell the truth it didn’t look to me like your angel pals were buying it.

How dare you pity me, by the way? How dare you pity me? You think you’re so special because some feathery suck-up gave you a sparkly crown and told you to go out and play hero? You

Okay, had to take a break for a minute. Anyway, the school library keeps copies of all the old year books, did you know that? Well they do. So one night while Mom was out plotting world domination and Azrael was off admiring himself in the mirror or whatever he does when he’s alone, I snuck off by myself to take a look. I figured if I really used to be a human then I must have gone to this school, right? Mom’s been living here since before this town was founded, there’s no reason for her to go looking anywhere else for children to steal. So I opened up last year’s yearbook to see if I was in it. I mean, I think I would have remembered being a human girl just last year, but then again I’ve looked at myself in the mirror and I don’t look any older than the rest of the kids in this school.

There wasn’t anyone in last year’s yearbook that looked like me — big deal, maybe I’m in the one from the year before that, right? But I looked, and I’m not in that one either. So I looked in the next one, and the next — I mean, I guess I could be a really young-looking freshman? — but no me. By now, I’m starting to think those angels really were just screwing with me after all, but still I couldn’t quite get myself to stop. I looked in the next book, and the next one, and the next. I went through a whole shelf of those books, carefully, page after boring page of middle schoolers’ pointless memories. And with every book I was going back a year — through the early 2000’s, the 90’s, the 80’s…

I was just about to give up when I turned the page and there it was, what I was looking for, one tiny little black and white rectangle among all the others, about two thirds of the way down the page — my face. It wasn’t exactly my face, of course. This girl had eyes, for one thing, and her hair wasn’t nearly as cool. But it was me alright — me as I had been as a human girl almost forty years ago. Does that make any sense to you? Because it makes zero to me. Forty years ago this dweeby-looking little human girl with no fashion sense had a name, a life, probably even some kind of human family, and then… what? Something, but I can’t remember. I can’t remember any of it. All I can remember is growing up in Qlippah with a megalomaniacal sea witch for a mother, who tells me I’m an angel. And now I don’t know what I am, but there’s one thing I do know:

I am definitely no angel.

Last chance for the Magical Princess Harriet Kickstarter!

Harriet

The Kickstarter for Magical Princess Harriet is on its last day. One month ago I launched this campaign hoping that others would be as excited as I was about the idea of a Jewish fantasy novel with a transgender protagonist, and the response has been truly phenomenal. In only 29 days ninety people have contributed a total of $3,180, enough to ensure that Magical Princess Harriet will in fact see the light of day. I am so deeply honored that so many people believed in this enough to help make my vision a reality.

If you are still interested in pre-ordering the book and having your name appear on the thank-you page, you can donate to the campaign here. Thanks again!

Another Excerpt

Another excerpt from my upcoming book, Magical Princess Harriet:

As the door swung shut behind her Harriet stood there for a moment, leaning against the doorpost, her heart beating a mile a minute. The bathroom was a long, narrow, poorly-lit room, its walls tiled in a particularly unpleasant shade of muted yellow-green that put one in mind of things rotting in a swamp – or perhaps that was just the smell. Along the wall facing the door were a row of stalls, with a row of urinals opposite them. Next to these were a number of shabby-looking sinks that looked as if they’d been installed around the time Eisenhower was president. The rusty faucets were dripping incessantly and the sound of the drops falling into the cracked porcelain basins echoed weirdly off of the room’s abnormally high ceiling.

She had been so upset when she came in that it took a minute before she realized she wasn’t alone. The room’s other occupant wasn’t immediately visible, but Harriet could hear them breathing in weak, shuddering gasps. The sound was amplified strangely by the room’s odd acoustics, so that at first she wasn’t certain where the sound was coming from. Bending down to examine the empty space along the bottom of the bathroom stalls she spotted a pair of black-on-black canvas sneakers that clearly belonged to someone standing on the other side of the last stall, in the space between it and the green-tiled wall.

“Hello?” she called out softly. “Are you okay?”

The echoes of her voice sounded metallic and distorted. When there was no response she crept tentatively forward and leaned around to see what was going on. Harriet gasped, eyes widening in alarm at what she saw. The boy – he must be in her grade, but he was so small and slim that he looked much younger – stood, or rather slumped, against the side of the bathroom stall, his eyes open but unseeing. The lower part of his face was obscured by the shadowy, amorphous form of a creature much like the one that Azrael had loosed on her the previous day in the upstairs hallway. It was clinging to the boy’s body with its long, wispy tentacles, its body slowly expanding and contracting, while beneath its translucent gray skin what looked like little clusters of glowing bubbles were gently pulsating with a ghastly violet light vaguely resembling the chemical phosphorescence of a glow stick.

A shudder ran through Harriet’s whole body. Her mind went back to those horrible moments, to the dreadful chill that had invaded her body when the creature had latched on to her and begun to feed. Gritting her teeth, she reached out to grab hold of the thing, meaning to pull it off the boy. When she did however she found that her hands passed right through its body, clutching nothing but empty air. She grunted, half in exasperation and half in pain as the cold, tingling sensation she remembered from before began to creep up her arms.

Taking a step back, Harriet’s hand went automatically to the pocket of her jeans where the little paper rose lay but it paused there, not quite touching it, her eyes darting nervously to the door through which she’d come. What was she supposed to do in a situation like this? Clearly the boy needed help – his breath was coming out in shallow wheezes that made her wince in sympathy just to hear them. But was she seriously considering bringing on the transformation right here in the middle of the boy’s bathroom? What if someone were to come in to use the toilet? What was she supposed to do then — shrug and say, “Sorry guys, guess I must have taken the wrong turn?”

As she stood there, paralyzed with indecision, Harriet’s eyes went back to those of the boy. They were wide and staring and utterly blank – the eyes of a human being on the verge of being totally lost. Shivering, she found herself recalling the words that Nuriel had spoken to her just before it disappeared:

You are a caring soul and your eyes have been opened to a danger which threatens people you care about, the angel had said. You have been given a gift which you are only beginning to understand, something which might otherwise have remained hidden from you for years to come. No one can hope to win in a fight against their own true nature. When the time comes and you are faced with the choice whether to live by that truth or betray it utterly, you will act.

Heaving a sigh of resignation, Harriet closed her fingers around the rose.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this, why not consider donating to my Kickstarter and help Magical Princess Harriet come into the world?

Announcing the Magical Princess Harriet Kickstarter!

Kickstarter Banner

I am proud to announce that the Kickstarter campaign for Magical Princess Harriet is finally underway!

If you haven’t been following this saga as it has developed, MPH is a Young Adult Fantasy novel about a Jewish middle school student named Harriet (neé Harris) Baumgartner who is charged with dealing with a family of Nephilim who are trying to take over her town, all while having to deal with her growing awareness that she was never meant to be a boy. Yes, that’s right – I wrote a novel that is basically a queer, Jewish version of a magical girl anime. So there.

You can find out more by visiting the Kickstarter page here. Watch the video, check out the characters, and please consider donating if you can!

What it felt like

A short excerpt from my upcoming book, Magical Princess Harriet:

 

As Harriet grasped the paper rose her skin began to glow from the inside, and again she felt that tremendous surge of warmth and wellbeing flowing through her. It felt like…

What it felt like, really, was love. That was the only way to put it into words. The thing that filled her up to overflowing with a light so bright that it literally lifted her up off the ground, pulling her toward some higher place she could not see but could just barely feel – that was love. It was big – far too big for her to really grasp the sheer scale of it without losing all sense of herself. It was a love big enough to encompass the entire universe and then some, and yet somehow at the same time it seemed radically specific. The love was in her and for her, just as she was in it and for it. It called out to her from somewhere deep inside of her, and since the only way to follow the sound of that voice was to turn completely inside-out, that is exactly what she did.