The Winged Child
The Winged Child
by Henry Mitchell
An adult fairytale about a girl who might know how to fly, a neurobotanist who might be a dragon, an innkeeper who might be a machine and a politician who might be the antichrist.
Millicent McTeer grows to adulthood in Ashton, an Appalachian tourist town, convinced she knows how to fly. With a new president in power, the life Millicent knew changes. The government has spies on every corner, coercing citizens to follow the new order. As the country descends into anarchy, Millicent is drawn into political activism by her professor and becomes an exile.
In the Laurel Creek Containment District, separated from the chaos of the Atlantic American Republic, she finds a new life. As she develops her unique abilities and leads the exiles, incursions from the outside world threaten to destroy the tranquil life they have built together. Will Millicent reclaim her reality and discover the peace that has eluded her?
“Do you have wings, Dad?”
“Sure I do. Runs in the family.”
“So, why don’t you ever fly?”
Joshua shot her a convincingly wistful glance. “Grownups aren’t allowed to fly in this country, Angel. Otherwise, on special occasions, like birthdays, I just might.”
“That would be showing off,” said Millicent, affecting her mother’s stern expression.
“I suppose it would, but that didn’t stop you trying, did it?”
Millicent couldn’t summon a proper retort, stared intently at the road ahead.
Joshua rescued her from silence. “Anyway, grownups can’t fly, except on airplanes. It’s the law.”
“Then, I don’t want to grow up,” declared Millicent. “Ever.”
“I truly hope you don’t,” said her father, watching the truck in front of them turn without flashing a signal. “I hope that when you become a woman grown and strong, you are still my little girl inside.”
Millicent found no more words to say over the next two blocks until they turned onto McTeer Street. Ahead, she could see Hillhaven, the inn that had been run by their family ever since her great-grandmother Alice inherited it from her employer and life-long friend, who had no family of her own to whom she could pass it on.
“Will you always be my dad?” Millicent asked, gazing up at her father, who kept his eyes on his road.
“I’ll always be your dad, Angel,” he said. “Ever and ever amen.”
That sounded to her like an impossible promise. “Even when you are dead and gone?” she asked, using a phrase she’d overheard from one of the guests at the inn.
“Nobody’s ever dead and gone, Angel.”
About the Author:
Henry Mitchell reads and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
He has written five novels and two collections of short stories.
Q&A With the Author
When did you first consider yourself to be a writer?
I worked for fifty years as a visual artist. In my late sixties I was diagnosed with macular degeneration. I told my wife, “I want to spend my last chapter doing something I can get better at.” She said, “I’ve been telling you for years you ought to write something.” So I wrote a novel. By the time it was finished, I couldn’t shake the habit.
What advice do you have for a new writer?
Read a lot. Read widely. Write more than you read. Remember writer’s block is a myth. You can always write about something. When you’re stumped on the project before you, write about something else that you do have words for. Listen. Listen to sounds around you, the way people talk to one another. Be slow to take advice and slow to give it. Save your clever words for your books. Always listen to your editor but don’t always obey. Follow no directive that does not feel like your own. Take care of your health so that you can enjoy your success when it finally arrives.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
The first draft is the easiest. It just goes down as it comes. The hardest part is after the first draft. Unwriting is always more difficult than writing. Deciding what cherished parts the book can live without is agony. In the end, anything that doesn’t look like your story has to go. Save the good pieces that don’t make the final cut, though. Some of them may have stories of their own. That’s how Millicent McTeer got here.
What is your favorite part of this story?
That’s hard to say. Each part was my favorite part while I was writing it. When asked to read from The Winged Child, I tend to choose something from the section that takes place in the Laurel Creek Containment District where Millicent and her friends have been exiled by the Atlantic American Republic. I love those characters.
Which character was the most fun to write about? Why?
I had the most fun with Wendl Von Trier. He is a púca, a shapeshifter, a benevolent trickster. He serves as Millicent’s mentor and guide through all her misadventures across the worlds. I enjoyed traveling in Wendl’s company so much that I am writing another novel in which he is a central character. Wendl is never a protagonist, but he makes stuff happen.
Which character was the hardest to write about? Why?
Millicent McTeer was the hardest to write. What does an old man know about how it is to be a young woman? It got easier as she grew closer to her author’s age, but I annoyed all the females in my life with my constant querying, “What would you do if…” “How would you react to…” Millicent is a made-up character, after all, but in certain lights, she bears a marked resemblance to my daughter Kate.
Henry Mitchell will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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