Here are two chapters that were cut from the original manuscript of Risuko. This out-take — Crossing the River and Meeting the Mountain — was originally placed between what are now chapters 7 (“The Wind“) and 8 (“The Mountain“—you may recognize one bit of dialogue between Risuko and Masugu from that chapter). I cut them because it was taking too long to get to the Full Moon — to the heart of the story. But there’s some fun stuff, including a meeting with a major historical figure I’ll be talking about soon! (There are a few characters that I’ve cut out as well.)
At the beginning, Masugu and his riders have just found Lady Chiyome’s party at the Mt. Fuji Inn. Masugu offered to let Mieko ride wide him, but she refused, and so Risuko is sitting in front of the Takeda warrior on his stallion as the chapter begins.
By the way, if you read through to the end, there’s a question; be the first to answer it and win a free Audible download code!
Chapter 10—Crossing the River
The whole world seemed to roll and rumble as the great beast leapt ahead, charging down the one street of the town toward a distant white triangle that peeked up over the horizon: Mount Fuji. More Imagawa soldiers lay scattered like deadwood along the street, and several of the tiny houses were burning.
Waste. Such waste.
The rest of the squadron had formed up behind us, and so I felt as if a flood of thunder was pushing me forward. The icy wind whipped the horse’s mane and my own hair across my face until cold tears flooded my eyes. I lowered my head and cleared my vision.
Continue reading Out-take — Crossing the River & Meeting the Mountain →
In the process of writing Risuko, I have rewritten just about every sentence in the book. As the old saying goes: Writing is hard; editing is harder.
Some chapters have been rewritten more heavily than others. One chapter has been through more changes than any other: the prologue. I’ve written at least five completely different versions of the introduction to Risuko’s world. Here is the one that opened the book when I finished my first full draft. It wasn’t the right opening for the book, but I still like it, so I thought I’d share it here!
Prologue—Homecoming Continue reading Out-take: Homecoming (early draft prologue) →
Akemashite omedeto gozai masu! (That is, Happy New Year!)
We’ve got an exciting new chapter of Risuko to start the year off with a bang. In 10 — Dark Letter, Risuko and Toumi stray from the trail and discover far more excitement than they’d bargained for.
10 — Dark Letter
We spent the night at a small Takeda fort guarding a rocky, barren place called, for some reason, Rice-Paddy Pass, which marked the border between Worth and Dark Letter Provinces. We were so high that there weren’t any trees. I felt naked. The air was dry and cold, we were exhausted, and the soldiers manning the garrison were edgy, as if waiting for an attack, though how — or why — an army would march so far and high I couldn’t imagine. Perhaps they were frightened of ogres.
The next morning, everybody—even Mieko—looked as grumpy as I felt.
Lady Chiyome shouted to rouse us. “Let’s go! I want to be back at the Full Moon by mid-day so that I can take a real bath and eat real food.”
As it turned out, Mochizuki was down in the valley below Rice-Paddy Pass. We began to descend, and for the first time in days I grasped the mane of Inazuna, Masugu’s stallion.
“Easy,” murmured Masugu—I think more for the horse’s sake than mine. To me, he said, “I thought you liked heights?” Continue reading New Year Excitement! Risuko — Chapter 10: Dark Letter →
9 — Worth
As Risuko, Masugu, and the rest of Lady Chiyome’s party approach their destination in the mountains, Risuko learns yet another uncomfortable truth — about herself and two other members of the group.
Up and up we rode, around a beautiful lake, and toward the mountain peaks.
A warbler sang from one of the trees and I whistled back. It was a funny time of year for the bird to be here.
“You do bird sounds?” Masugu asked.
“Can you do a loon?” We’d heard one that morning on the lake.
I grinned. That was one of my favorites. I raised my fingers to my hands and gave the loon’s long, sad call.
“Well done!” Masugu laughed. “And how about… a nightingale?”
I turned around to look at him for a moment.
He laughed again. “Fine, fine, I was kidding.” He stared down at me. “How about an owl. Can you hoot three times like an owl?”
“You’re kidding again, right? That one’s easy.” To prove my point, I raised my hands to my mouth again and gave three long hoots: one as a wood owl, one as a snowy owl and one as a Scops owl. Continue reading Sneak Peak! Risuko — Chapter 9: Worth →
8 — The Mountain
Headed further from her family and home, Risuko discovers an unsettling truth.
For three days, we rode quickly, without speaking until the mirror of the sun passed behind the mountains. On the first two days, we passed large groups of soldiers bearing the Takeda four-diamond banner marching toward the battles we had just left behind. By the third day, we might as well have been the only people in all of Worth Province —in all of Japan. We passed no one. Even the villages seemed empty.
Every night, the soldiers would make camp—in dry rice paddies or on the edges of fields. They would start preparing a simple meal, which Emi, Toumi, Aimaru and I would help clean up. The men would start talking to each other, and to the Little Brothers, occasionally. They would speak respectfully to Lady Chiyome occasionally, and even tease Aimaru and us three girls a bit.
None of them ever spoke to Mieko-san, though the lieutenant seemed always to know where she was. Continue reading Risuko sneak peek! Chapter 8 — The Mountain →