Annnnnnd we’re back after a short break! Thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior so far. If you’re just hearing about this for the first time, then perhaps you’d like to read up on why we are doing this.
Let’s continue getting to know some of the Orange Karen anthology authors. Today, allow me to introduce Gareth S. Young. Take it away, Gareth!
Author Name: Gareth S. Young
Title of Short Story: The Orange-headed Serpent
In 25 words or less tell me what this story is about: A story marks the beginning of a friendship between a young writer and the rough and tumble girl he fancies.
How did you come up with the concept for the story? I wanted to tell a story about the power of imagination, friendship and humor. The Serpent idea came from my day job and also from my fascination with mythology, in particular the Ouroboros (the ancient symbol of a serpent eating its own tail).
What prompted you to submit your story to the Orange Karen Anthology? I follow Karen on Twitter and enjoy her sense of humor and the fact she has some Scottish blood flowing in her veins. When she fell ill, I was moved by her strength, courage and by the amazing swell of support she got from Twitter. When the project was announced I had to be a part of it.
Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio: I can juggle. Not well and only with three balls but it still qualifies as juggling! I practiced every Christmas with Satsumas…yes, the small, orange fruit!
What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)? Why? Sky’s the limit, you say? Very well, I choose The SUN!
If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it? To save the world, clearly I would have to make sure that everyone got good vacation time and always had a reserved spot on a warm beach somewhere under the Sun.
Who inspires you? Why? I’m inspired daily by the hard-working writers I talk to on Twitter. A lot of them have full time day jobs, many have husbands, wives or flock of children demanding their time and yet, there they are #amwriting and supporting other writers with words of encouragement and sharing of information. I have been bowled over by the writer community.
Excerpt: Hear Gareth read an excerpt from his short story, “The Orange-Headed Serpent” on R.B. Wood’s The Word Count Podcast. He has a phenomenal voice. Many a lasses have swooned over his Scottish accent, myself included.
One warm evening, I sat down on the middle rail of a long, wooden fence on top of a steep embankment. The spacing between the three horizontal rails allowed me to sit on the middle one and leave my feet dangling. If I crossed my arms on the top rail, my chin rested comfortably as I looked down into the forest opposite me. This was my place to daydream.
Lost in thought, my reverie was broken when a pair of well-worn sneakers swung through the gap between the railings. Bonnie, grinning big, sat beside me.
“Whatcha doin’?” She nudged my shoulder with hers. Her eyes flashed with mischief.
“Nothing much.” I couldn’t look at her. I stared at my spiral-bound notepad, wishing the words would rush out and climb into my mouth and give me something more interesting to say. I blushed instead.
“What’s in the notebook?” She peered over my arm at the closed pad. Leaning closer, an escaped strand of her hair brushed my face. My hand rose as if to swat away a fly and she leaned away. “Sorry.” She patted the rogue strand down while the rest of her hair threatened to escape from its ponytail.
“Oh. Sorry. I… it’s okay.” I lifted the notebook and waved it. “Just ideas and stuff.”
She bounced on the railing until I turned to her. She stopped when I met her eyes.
“Cool!” She beamed a thousand watt smile and then laughed. There was always a fire in the coolness of her eyes. “So, what do you want to do now?” She flopped back like she was going to fall from the fence. Instead her hands grabbed the top railing and she let her head snap back. Her ponytail brushed the ground. “D’you want me to go away? Quit bugging you?” She gave me a daring look. I wanted to talk to her, without mumbling and blushing, so I took a deep breath.
“No. You can stay.” I waved the notebook again. “I write stories. I like to come out here and look at the trees and the river, and listen to the birds. It relaxes me.”
She pulled herself up and leaned her head against the top railing. She had full lips, and she bit the bottom one, making me think about kissing them. “Tell me a story,” she said. There was a brief sadness in her eyes. The smile dropped away and then flashed back. “Please?” she added, swinging back and forth.
It took me forever to start talking. I persuaded myself it would be the only way to keep her near me. I looked down the embankment and the story sprung into my head.
“Have you heard about the orange-headed serpent?” I asked.
Her face lit up. “No. Tell me!”
“It travels around the world, day and night, never stopping. It consumes and devours everything in its path. It swallows orchards filled with sweet apples and fields full of woolly sheep. It drinks freshwater lakes and feasts on fish from the sea. Its long metallic claws sound like a butcher sharpening his knives as it snatches cows from their pastures. Its deep throaty growl can be heard miles away as it comes for you.”
Bonnie closed her eyes. Her face relaxed and her eyebrows twitched. She seemed to be imagining the orange serpent.
I continued, “It won’t ever stop, but if you can catch it and open its belly, all its treasures will be yours.”
“Treasure,” Bonnie whispered.
“Yes. Who knows what it’s gobbled up on its travels?” I chuckled.
Without warning, there was the sound of metal on metal; the sound of two sharp blades clashing.
“Oh, my gosh!” Startled, Bonnie stared at me. “The serpent.”
Gareth Young was born and raised in Scotland. After that it all gets a bit a hazy. What is known is that he spends his waking hours writing and railroading with varying degrees of success. And, despite the fact he now lives in the St. Louis area, he can still rock a kilt. (Or so he likes to think.)