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In my hometown, there used to be an establishment called “The Barn” that was charitably considered an antique store. It’s a Walgreens parking lot now, but during my high school career, it was a junk store that was housed in a red barn.
You could find just about anything there, whether you were looking for it or not. They had furniture, dishes, glass bottles in every shape, size and color; small appliances, large appliances, farm tools, and things that simply defied categorization. It was my favorite place (besides the used bookstore) to go and poke around just to see what I could find.
But of all the things I thought I might one day come across, I never once imagined I would stumble upon something that would help shape my not-as-yet-written fantasy series.
The day that happened, my brother and I were just aimlessly wandering around (not that you ever really did anything else at The Barn). We had gone from room to room without finding anything that particularly sparked our interest—at least not enough to buy—so we headed out.
However, before we made it through the door, we passed a case like the sort in which a department store would put higher end jewelry, and something there caught my eye.
A tiny pewter pegasus.
And I mean tiny. It could fit comfortably on a silver dollar. It could almost fit on a quarter. To this day, I have no idea how I even saw it in a case that was crammed full of other miniatures and jewelry and knick-knacks, but I did.
I stopped. I stared. I tracked down an employee (no easy feat). I bought. I don’t remember exactly, but I think I paid five dollars for it. Whatever the amount, I do remember thinking that it was too high for such a little thing, but I handed over the money anyway because I had to have it.
I went home, put my pewter pegasus on my desk (where he’s been every since), and wrote a story about the leader of a rebellion in some far-off fantasy place whose companion was a tiny, talking pegasus prone to sarcasm and manipulation as he strives to save the world.
One never knows when and where inspiration will be found: people-watching in the park, hiking in the mountains, driving a lonely stretch of highway, in the shower, washing a sinkful of dirty dishes, in television, movies, books—or in a plexiglass jewelry case in the most dubious-looking junk store ever.
That junk store find eventually became Faolan, a pivotal character in Effigy, and one of my favorite characters for which to write (all the sarcastic characters are…I wonder why), and I honestly couldn’t imagine the story, or the series, without him.
And all for the bargain price of five dollars.
Effigy (epic fantasy)
by M.J. Fifield
Release date: July 22, 2014
The survival of a once-mighty kingdom rests in the hands of its young queen, Haleine Coileáin, as it slowly succumbs to an ancient evil fueled by her husband’s cruelty.
A sadistic man with a talent for torture and a taste for murder, he is determined to burn the land and all souls within. Haleine is determined to save her kingdom and, after a chance encounter, joins forces with the leader of the people’s rebellion. She gives him her support, soon followed by her heart.
Loving him is inadvertent but becomes as natural and necessary as breathing. She lies and steals on his behalf, doing anything she can to further their cause. She compromises beliefs held all her life, for what life will exist if evil prevails?
Her journey leads to a deceiving world of magic, monsters, and gods she never believed existed outside of myth. The deeper she goes, the more her soul is stripped away, but she continues on, desperate to see her quest complete. If she can bring her husband to ruin and save her people, any sacrifice is worth the price—even if it means her life.
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