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A Not-Summer Night's Scream - cover




Whenever you're writing a series, all the 'Great Books of HowToWrite' will tell you how even if the books are a series, each one should be able to be read on its own. Which, yes, is excellent advice!

Un, mostly (blush). Er, or, quite possibly, I might not have read all the Great Books properly yet (blushes again).

So. Spoiler alert. YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO READ THIS UNLESS YOU'VE READ BOOK 1. Of course, you can if you like :-). But there may be things you find out about Book 1. Yes, I'm probably a Bad Person(tm), but I figured I'd give you a heads up. Anyway, here we are. I'd apologise to Mr William of the shaking Spear - but I probably wouldn't mean it (last blush - for now :-) ). A NOT SUMMER NIGHT'S SCREAM - over to y'all!


A Not-Summer Night's Scream - The Book of the Idiot (Prologue)

I used to be an Idiot. Now I’m a husband. My wife tells me it’s much the same thing.

It was all my fault. Of course, that was my job then. For things to be my fault. The Idiot’s fault. No, not the Court Jester. I didn’t wear motley (whatever motley may be). That's a different union. I was the Idiot. You see, in a Queen’s castle, wine spilled down the wrong dress can lead to a declaration of war. So, someone unimportant had to be blamed for it, and that was the Court Idiot’s job. I was the Idiot that did it, for any value of ‘it’. Of course, as soon as I was exiled-for-life out of the castle gate, I used my back-door key and sneaked back in. To wait for the next time some Idiot was needed.

But that's not all the job. Someday, something really bad will happen. Really, really, bad. Badder than a Bad Thing on a Very Bad Day. With extra Badness. It always does. And when the world’s about to end, who you gonna call? No, not them. They haven’t been invented yet. You call the Idiot, so you can risk someone nobody will miss if things don’t work out. You send the Idiot to sort it out.

It’s like the Dwarves, only without the running.

But it happened. The really bad thing. Peladon had a case of dragon. And I was Queen Sonea’s Idiot, so she sent me. Until it turned out the dragon wasn’t the problem. The problem was my Mother. And that’s why it was really my fault.

Oh, by the way. Yes, our daughter really is a dragon. But she’s only sixteen in dragon years, and teenagers are like that. And the Queen? That’s Queen Sonea. Of Peladon. People tell me she’s my wife. She’s not, not really—I’m her husband.

So, there it was. My Mother was coming. And she was hungry, so she was going to eat everybody in Peladon. Did I mention my Mother is a demon? No—I’m not a demon. Well, not a real one. My Mother is though.

I’m not doing this very well, am I? That’s all right when you’re an Idiot. All you have to do is stand around, be shouted at, then get exiled-for-life. Oh, and make sure you remember the back-door key. My Maj… Queen Sonea tells me it’s different for Kings. You’re supposed to do more of the shouting. And you always use the front gate.

I’m not a very good King.

But that was a while ago now. I managed to sort it out without anybody getting eaten. Mother was sent back to her hell without any supper. Or lunch. Or breakfast. She wasn’t happy about it. She called in the Penalty Clause. I haven’t told My Maj… I mean, I haven’t told Sonea about the Penalty Clause. Not yet. But I think she’s starting to notice.

Still, that was then. This is now. And even though we’re still looking for a new Idiot (I still stand in when My Majesty has to exile someone. Sonea doesn’t like it much, but of course, nobody notices it’s me. They never do—it’s one of the job qualifications), most things are still my fault. That’s not just Idiots—it goes with being a husband. It’s in the small print. But this time—well, this time it was really my fault. Again. It was Winter. My Majesty was asleep. And there was a tap on the window…