Monday, July 29, 2019

"Howling Dark"

Christopher Ruocchio is a graduate of North Carolina State University, where a penchant for self-destructive decision-making caused him to pursue a bachelor’s in English Rhetoric with a minor in Classics. An avid student of history, philosophy, and religion, Ruocchio has been writing since he was eight years old and sold his first book —Empire of Silence— at twenty-two.

 Ruocchio applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Howling Dark, and reported the following:
(Oof, Page 69 is a chapter-ender, so it’s short!)
The growing night was cold, and the days short on Rustam, as days so often are. And I was of Delos, and used to colder climes than she, who hailed from hot and arid Ubar worlds and worlds away. See us as we go, arm in arm, she walking tight beside me, my arm about her slender waist. We might have been two lovers returning from the opera—​were it not that we were armed. You might think nothing of us at all. Arslan was, after all, a place for hard people in harder times. Two drunks perhaps, or two sailors recently out of freeze. Yet when I look back upon that moment, I can point to but few moments that are as shining and simple as that warm and gentle quiet we shared ... or the small pressure of her hand on my arm, or the way I nestled against her shoulder in the back of our shuttle and for a moment forgot that my friend was dead.

But the ugliness of the world does not fade, and fear and grief are not made less by time. We are only made stronger. We can only float together on their tides, as otters do, hand in hand.

Before it ends.

Before it has to end.
I’m not sure we could have found a less representative sample of the book if we tried. This is the tail end of a scene of relative peace and stability—and even happiness—in a book that’s full of these things falling apart. A lot of Hadrian’s journey in Howling Dark is discovering that people have their own internal worlds and that those worlds aren’t in alignment with his own (even, and most painfully, when he is doing what is right and necessary and they are not). This scene is before these illusions are properly shattered, and so it’s really setting the stage for that process by which I break poor Hadrian down. If it is representative in any way, it is that the general melancholy on display here is pretty demonstrative of Hadrian’s narration. He is an old man writing this, and his life has been very painful. Recounting all this is not easy for him.
Follow Christopher Ruocchio on Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Empire of Silence.

The Page 69 Test: Empire of Silence.

My Book, The Movie: Howling Dark.

--Marshal Zeringue