Today I’d like to welcome fantasy author Sydney Blackburn to the blog and she brings us a love story with an artistic backdrop. I used to read fantasy by the crateload, until I ran across too many predictable stories. It’s interesting to read that Sydney had the same problem…. and I will certainly be checking out Megan Derr’s books. And can I just say it? I love the excerpt!
Here’s what Sydney has to say about her writing.
City of Dreams is a short story, one of several fantasy/fairy tale m/m shorts that I’ve written (the second published, third coming in the spring of 2018). I went “off” fantasy as a reader some years back when I picked up a book and by the end of the first chapter, I knew not only the entire story, but that of the next two books as well. Megan Derr’s writing is entirely responsible for getting me back into fantasy, so selling City of Dreams to Less Than Three was my first cap feather as a writer.
City of Dreams
In the City of Dreams, art is of high value and any artist with the Eye is a celebrity. Sebastian Moreaux uses his celebrity status and position of authority at the Ecole d’Art to fill his bed with whomever he fancies.
Then he meets Marcus Allegro, newly arrived in the City, talented and beautiful–and stubbornly determined to settle for nothing less than a relationship. But Sebastian’s had his heart broken before and has no intention of taking that chance again. He’d rather drive Marcus away, no matter how much doing so hurts.
If Marcus is going to get the man of his dreams, it’s going to take a friend, a bit of magic, and all the determination he can muster.
Excerpt from City of Dreams by Sydney Blackburn
“Oh look, isn’t that Bastian’s little friend?”
Marcus’s paintbrush froze mid-stroke at the silky feminine voice behind him. Then he deliberately finished, setting the brush in a jar of mineral spirits spritzed with a pinch of cleaner from Prestcote’s spell shop. If he didn’t pack up immediately, Marie and whoever was with her would tease and annoy him until the painting was ruined beyond saving.
He put the lid on his palette to save the colours he’d mixed and began to slot everything into place in his easel. It was such a beautiful day. He didn’t normally paint outside, but he’d wanted to get away from the common studio.
“Don’t go on our account,” Marie Bottrell said, taking the seat next to him in a flounce of ruffled silk and powder. “It is terribly funny, though. You thinking Sebastian Moreaux, of all men, would settle for one person. And even if he did, it wouldn’t be a pretty boy like you. He likes real men and real women, not whatever in between you are.”
“You must think I’m particularly stupid,” Marcus remarked, his voice calm while inside his emotions writhed and flinched from her words. “I’ve already gotten that message multiple times, from Bastian himself, no less. You were there, if I recall. I don’t need to be reminded daily. I’m not likely to forget.”
“Aren’t you? Then why do you still come around to Bastian’s salons?”
“Because he invites me,” Marcus said curtly. It wasn’t a satisfactory answer, not even to himself. Why did he accept Sebastian’s invitations? They certainly did nothing to further his art. He doubted even tomorrow’s luncheon at the café would be instructional, yet he knew he’d be there.
“He just feels pity for you, you know,” she continued, garnering twitters of laughter from those with her, whom Marcus was still purposefully not looking at.
“I doubt that Bastian is even capable of that much fellow-feel,” Marcus replied, hefting his easel across his shoulders. “Now if you don’t mind, I need some fresh air.”
He strode away across the park, ostensibly looking for a new vantage on the crumbling medieval pavilion, but he knew his concentration was broken for the day. Instead he took his things back to his room, trading them for a more portable sketchbook, and wandered the streets, trying desperately not to think about Sebastian Moreaux and his humiliation at the handsome man’s hands.
Marcus turned to see warm brown eyes surrounded by long dark lashes and blushed. The rest of the face was even more lovely to look at—a straight nose, broad cheekbones, lips… lips… He dragged his gaze back to the brown eyes, sparking with the reflections of golden spell lights. “Hello,” Marcus said, willing his blush to recede and failing as usual.
“I’m Sebastian Moreaux. I understand you’re new to my group,” he said with a smile. His head was resting on the back of the divan on which Marcus was sitting. Marcus was just honoured to be considered good enough to fall into such an elite group of artists. All he could see of the celebrated Moreaux was his head and he was so swept by the beauty of it, he almost forgot that Moreaux—the Sebastian Moreaux!—had called him beautiful. “What’s your name, beautiful? Haven’t seen you before.”
“Marcus. Allegro,” he managed to say without stuttering.
“Are you really old enough to be a student here? You look too pretty to be a man grown.” His smile was kind, and Marcus blushed even deeper. Normally he disliked being taken for a youth, but the friendly and interested way Moreaux was looking at him made the comment almost a compliment.
“Really,” he murmured, his voice not as firm as he felt it should have been.
Moreaux’s smile grew to a grin and he rested his hands on the carved sofa frame, peering at Marcus. “I’d need to see you standing,” he declared. His gaze dropped lower and Marcus squirmed from embarrassment. Sebastian grinned and winked salaciously. “No matter. I’ll find out soon enough.”
Then he was gone. Welcome to the City of Dreams.
About Sydney Blackburn
Sydney Blackburn is a binary star system. Always a voracious reader, she began to write when she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read. She likes candlelit dinners and long walks on the beach… Oh wait, wrong profile. She’s a snarky introvert and admits to having a past full of casual sex and dubious hookups, which she uses for her stories.
She likes word play and puns and science-y things. And green curry.
Her dislikes include talking on the phone, people trying to talk to her before she’s had coffee, and filling out the “about me” fields in social media.
Besides writing, she also designs book covers for poor people.