Violins Played before Junstan
by Lou Kemp
GENRE: Fantasy (magical realism)
While on a mission to avenge the death of his lover, the immortal peyote-eating magician Celwyn is hired to deliver an automat, Professor Kang, to a priest. But Celwyn quickly learns that everything the priest told him was a lie. Now his ship, the Zelda, is stuck in a horrific storm and Celwyn knows he must reconsider his allegiance if he is to steer his vessel in the right direction and continue his quest.
San Francisco, 1865
Late in the evening, thick ribbons of fog moved like a living animal, breathing, then thinning to vapor before revealing the shadows between the wooden barrels that lined the docks. Beyond the Opera House’s silhouette, oily glimmers of the bay cut through the darkness, only to be obscured by the fog again.
As Celwyn neared the docks, he heard virulent cursing above the commotion from a carriage as it charged down the cobblestones toward him. When the coach drew level, the driver raised a whip above his horse. On its descent to the horse’s back, the tip suspended mid-air and snake-like, the whip shimmied out of the coachman’s hand.
The man steered the hackney to a stop. As he slithered out of the high cab, the whip followed him, wrapping around his ankles, lifting him feetfirst into the air. His cursing echoed to screams as he disappeared into the night sky. A moment later, a splash could be heard, and a satisfied smile crossed Celwyn’s lips; he couldn’t stand to see anyone mistreating an animal. The horse trotted down the street, rather jauntily, back toward the stable yard as the magician stepped around a snoring drunk and into Salty’s tattered and dingy atmosphere. Celwyn could have sworn it was the same drunk he stepped over last night.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Early work was horror and suspense, later work morphed into a combination of magical realism, mystery and adventure painted with a horrific element as needed.
I’m one of those writers who doesn’t plan ahead, no outlines, no clue, and I sometimes write myself into a corner. Atmospheric music in the background helps. Black by Pearl Jam especially.
More information is available at LouKemp.com. I’d love to hear from you and what you think of Celwyn, Bartholomew, and Professor Xiau Kang.
2009 The anthology story Sherlock’s Opera appeared in Seattle Noir, edited by Curt Colbert, Akashic Books. Available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble online. Booklist published a favorable review of my contribution to the anthology.
2010 My story, In Memory of the Sibylline, was accepted into the best-selling MWA anthology Crimes by Moonlight, edited by Charlaine Harris. The immortal magician Celwyn makes his first appearance in print.
2018 The story, The Violins Played before Junstan is published in the MWA anthology Odd Partners, edited by Anne Perry. The Celwyn series begins.
Book 1, The Violins Played before Junstan reissue with the publisher, the 4 Horsemen on 10-17-22. The 4 Horsemen will publish the remaining books in the series beginning with Music Shall Untune the Sky, The Raven and the Pig, The Pirate Danced and the Automat Died. The companion book, Farm Hall continues the story of Pelaez, another immortal magician and Celwyn’s brother will also be available.
Lou Kemp will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.