Blog Tour: Daughter of Sea and Sky by @DavidLitwack #excerpt
Speculative Literary Fiction
Date Published: May 19, 2014
After centuries of religiously motivated war, the world has been split in two. Now the Blessed Lands are ruled by pure faith, while in the Republic, reason is the guiding light-two different realms, kept apart and at peace by a treaty and an ocean.
Children of the Republic, Helena and Jason were inseparable in their youth, until fate sent them down different paths. Grief and duty sidetracked Helena's plans, and Jason came to detest the hollowness of his ambitions.
These two damaged souls are reunited when a tiny boat from the Blessed Lands crashes onto the rocks near Helena's home after an impossible journey across the forbidden ocean. On board is a single passenger, a nine-year-old girl named Kailani, who calls herself The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky. A new and perilous purpose binds Jason and Helena together again, as they vow to protect the lost innocent from the wrath of the authorities, no matter the risk to their future and freedom.
But is the mysterious child simply a troubled little girl longing to return home? Or is she a powerful prophet sent to unravel the fabric of a godless Republic, as the outlaw leader of an illegal religious sect would have them believe? Whatever the answer, it will change them all forever... and perhaps their world as well.
The ripple at the edge of the fog again drew Helena’s gaze. For an instant, it took shape, but quickly vanished, a reverse mirage, something solid where only water should be. She squinted, trying to penetrate the haze, and turned away to find something more substantial.
She traced the coastline instead. The land rose southward in a gentle curve toward the tip of Albion Point, and ended at the Knob, which stood like a clenched fist challenging those who sailed the Forbidden Sea. The northern firs that capped the rocky coast were broken here and there by a handful of dwellings. From this distance, they looked like great seabirds nesting.
The fog had shifted with the tide, enough for her to pick out her parents’ home, the white one in the center, overlooking them all from the highest cliff. It was where she slept for the time being, where she stayed alone and apart. Only the second floor of the house and the garret above it showed. With the rest blended into fog, the house looked like a phantom rising from nothing. It had felt that way since her father died.
She glanced back out to sea and caught the beacon of the Light of Reason. The ancient tower stood on a craggy rock in the middle of the bay, ten stories high and always first to peek through the fog. She balanced the book on one knee and scanned lower, down along the horizon.
The mirage burst out and became solid—a boat where none should be.
The sail luffing in the breeze was a clumsy triangle with no arc, holding little air. The front was awkwardly shaped, more tub than prow, and it sailed where boats were banned—a ripe target for the shore patrol. If it had been launched by zealots overcome with missionary zeal, it was too small and ill-fitted, not salvation vessel, but death trap.
And it was drifting toward the rocky coast.
Now, Jason saw it as well. The sun glinted off something on its bow as it dipped into a trough. When it rose again, someone clutched the mast—a girl with golden hair.
Jason vaulted back to the beach and beckoned for Helena to follow. She moved to the edge, squatted, and jumped. He caught her by the waist and swung her to the sand.
In those few seconds, the boat crashed against the rocks. The crack of wood splintering rose above the sound of the waves.
The two of them raced into the surf as the girl with the golden hair thrashed about in the water, struggling to avoid jagged debris from the shattered boat. They waded in a few steps, braced against the undertow, and pressed forward again. Three more waves and they reached her.
Jason grabbed the girl just as she began to sink. Despite the buffeting sea, he carried her back to the shore without straining and lay her fragile form on a swath of grass beyond the rocks—a slip of a child no more than nine or ten years old.
Plain cotton pants clung to the girl’s legs, and an elaborately embroidered tunic covered her slender frame—the typical garb of the zealots, but other than her clothing, she looked nothing like a zealot. Her skin was light and perfect, unblemished but for a trickle of blood on her arm. Her golden hair hung down to the middle of her back, and her round eyes held the color of the ocean.
Were Helena a believer, she’d have considered this the face of an angel.
The urge to write first struck when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter's editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. But he was inspired to write about the blurry line between reality and the fantastic .
Using two fingers and lots of white-out, he religiously typed five pages a day throughout college and well into his twenties. Then life intervened. He paused to raise two sons and pursue a career, in the process becoming a well-known entrepreneur in the software industry, founding several successful companies. When he found time again to daydream, the urge to write returned.
He's published three novels so far in this new stage of his life: There Comes a Prophet, Along the Watchtower, and the recently released The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky.
David and his wife split their time between Cape Cod, Florida and anywhere else that catches their fancy. He no longer limits himself to five pages a day and is thankful every keystroke for the invention of the word processor.