Hi, I'm E.R. Warren, and I write fantasy novels.
I'm participating in Pitch Wars this year, an editing/agent-hunting competition. I did the contest last year with a freshly completed draft and failed rather spectacularly. But I appreciated the parting advice from the various mentors I applied to, so I've worked hard at editing my novel. I'm going again.
The Princess and the Fox Demon is a YA fantasy romance inspired by Classical Japan. Princess Asuka is the prodigious heir to one of the most powerful shamanships in the world, but her future comes crashing down when the shape-shifting fox demon Chirikai enters her life.
A volcano god killed Asuka’s father.
A plague god killed her fiancé.
So Princess Asuka begs her former lover—a shapeshiftng fox demon—to pose as her fiancé while she seeks vengeance. The fox demon Chirikai agrees. But Chirikai remembers handing the princess his heart after the murder of his heartbroken mother, and he remembers risking his life to save her father.
He remembers Asuka rejecting him, when he was on his knees.
But he says yes anyway.
Asuka’s quest of vengeance begins in the capital, a city of gold leaf and secretive shamans struggling to bend the gods to their will. They travel to the ghost-infested mountains to find her fiancé’s ghost, and they will have to elude bear-riding warriors and a god of illusion—Chirikai’s deadly father. A plague sweeps across the land, begun by a mysterious new deity.
But as the danger mounts around them, Asuka and Chirikai realize that their obsession with revenge has turned into passion for each other. Asuka realizes that she must choose between family, honor, and the vengeance which will surely tear them apart, or a lifetime with the lonely fox demon who said yes.
Where did this book come from?
I started writing The Princess and the Fox Demon during my last year of graduate school. At that time, professors filled my days with Classical and Ancient Japanese (kambun) translations as I banged out my thesis on epidemics. Writing the novel was an escape. As I struggled to describe the plague gods in my thesis, I found myself wondering about ancient conceptions of "science." Today, we know that smallpox is caused by a virus. But what if it was really caused by a god? What would that be like?
What are you looking for in a mentor?
Well, I've hit a wall in my own revision process. I've written six other novels (yikes) and this is the first one I've ever considered publishing, but I've always struggled with revising. I love cutting unnecessary scenes, slashing characters, and all revising entails, but... I feel like I'm all over the place when I do it. I would love a mentor who can help me polish my manuscript, imparting strategies that can guide me in the future. I'm here to listen and learn. Anything else—to me—is a bonus.
Of course, getting an agent would be awesome too.
What are you reading?
I recently binge-read The Grisha Triology by Leigh Bardugo, literally all at once. I loved it. I've also recently enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes, The Wrath and the Dawn, and Seraphina. That is to say, I like reading fantasy in new places. It's also what I write?
My apartment is filled with piles of nonfiction, especially history and religion. That informs and inspires the bulk of my writing. I am the sort of nerd who will never be mainstream cool; I blog about my love of ancient urban planning books and saying goodbye to Ghibli.
What are you up to?
When I'm not working on novels, I write about fairies and crossdressing pet shelter owners for The Teacup Trail. Professionally, I'm a journalist for a major Japanese newspaper, working out of our Los Angeles branch.
Why should I pick you and your long 100K+ novel?
First, I'm a journalist, and second, I've published online. I promise I will never cry from editing comments. (Or any other comments...) I'm professional and fast. So please, don't let the length scare you.
I'm so excited to be doing Pitch Wars this year. I understand it's really competitive, and my chances are slim. I'd love to find a mentor who believes Asuka and Chirikai's story is worth sharing. I want to write the next luscious, multi-book, strange world fantasy.
A random excerpt:
Wind chimes made from bones dangled down from the gutters, which featured fox carvings, some growling, and others halfway through shapeshifting into other animals. Chirikai led the way up the misty stairs. The front doors opened for him.
Before them stretched a hallway that defied the limits of the space, no matter how large the fortress, the high ceiling covered in gold.
Asuka spotted pictures of winged demons and ancient turtles, snakes with swords in their mouths, and foxes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Tiny shelves protruded at points in the paintings, and incense burned in dozens of tiny dishes, casting smoke over the narratives.
“Do all fox demons live like this?” asked Asuka, stunned.
Chirikai snorted. “Do all humans live like you?”
Asuka turned to see that the door behind them had disappeared, and when she completed her rotation, a fox was hurrying towards them.
The fox leapt up onto his hind legs and transformed in a burst of light, revealing a young man with a narrow, worried face.
“Master Chirikai,” he said breathlessly. “I’m so glad you’re here.” The other fox demon glanced at Asuka. “Your father is here. He’s been asking for you, and we’ve had no idea where you are—”
“My father’s here?” hissed Chirikai. He grabbed Asuka’s arm and dragged her from the middle of the hall. “Right now?”
“Yes, Master Chirikai. He’s in a bad mood! We don’t know what to do!"
Chirikai swore under his breath. “Don’t say anything to him. I’m not here.”
The younger fox demon looked uncomfortable as Chirikai pulled Asuka through one of the golden paintings. The wall gave before her body like sea mist, and she shivered as Chirikai raced through several rooms—a red room filled with swords, another with foreign costumes—before pausing in a silver make-up room. Chirikai jumped, and they fell down through the floor, slipping into a dark, damp room.
Chirikai snapped his fingers and pinched off a globe of purple fire to hover in the air between them.
“My father doesn’t know about this room. Stay quiet. I’ll get what we need, and I’ll come back for you.”
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