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Originally published at Sarah Rees Brennan. You can comment here or there.

As I prepare to jaunt down tomorrow to the Hay on Wye Festival of Books, it seemed an AUSPICIOUS TIME to put up the Holly and Angela snippet I had promised.

Looking forward to seeing you, Walesians! Looking forward to seeing you, town of books and books and books!

Angela had agreed to stay in the Water Rising and study Aurimere books with Holly, but Holly was sure that Angie had not thought this process would last long into the night. Angie rested her elbows on the table and regarded the world with a pissed-off stare, as if she hated the night, tables, and air generally.

“What?” she asked flatly.

“Uh,” said Holly. “It’s really nice of you—and Rusty, of course; I like Rusty, who doesn’t like Rusty, he’s so likable—to let Henry stay with you. And to let me stay with you. I really appreciate it. And so does Henry. I’m sure.”

“Okay,” Angela said.

“I mean, it’s not just staying with you, of course. This is a tough time, and—and I bet Henry is grateful for the support. And of course Henry really enjoys your company.”

Angela made a slight face. Holly couldn’t interpret it, other than knowing it meant things were not going well. It was possible that Angie hated appreciation, Henry, the very sound of Holly’s voice, or all of the above.

“Okay,” Angela repeated.

She got back to turning the pages of her book. Holly felt more and more like a creeper, the kind of guy who didn’t say suggestive stuff but did insist on having a conversation, who hassled beautiful girls who obviously wanted to be left alone.

She only knew one way to do things. She didn’t know how girls were supposed to go after other girls.

And yet Angie had fancied Holly once before, and Holly hadn’t even meant to do that. Maybe the problem was that Holly was being too subtle.

“You look tired,” was Holly’s next venture.

She knew that was not the smoothest possible thing to say, but she had a plan.

“Almost constantly,” Angela replied, staring at her book and resting her fingers against her temples. “I am tired of asshole sorcerers, I am tired of having my life threatened, and I am tired in the sense that I want a nap. Yes. And your point would be?”

The temptation to say “Never mind,” and also hide behind the sofa because Angie was terrifying, was almost irresistible.

But Holly wanted to be brave, and she wanted to have this. Guys were often really persistent, and it worked: she didn’t want Angela to think Holly wasn’t trying hard enough because she didn’t like her enough.

Holly braced herself and jumped to her feet.

“Oh, I was just thinking,” she said with forced and perhaps slightly manic brightness. “You must be super tense! How about a massage?”

Before she finished speaking, she had her hands on Angela’s shoulders, so much narrower than a boy’s shoulders and almost fragile-feeling, even though she knew Angie was strong. She felt for an instant a sense of accomplishment.

Angela’s shoulders moved under her hands in a shudder of indignant recoil, like a scandalized maiden snake whose Victorian sensibilities had been deeply offended.

The movement was enough: Holly had her hands off Angela and up in surrender, but Angela spun around in her chair and wheeled on her anyway.

“What,” said Angela, and the ice in her voice chilled Holly, “do you think you are doing?”

“Sorry,” Holly muttered. “I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“It was right out of order, Holly,” Angela said.

She was not even standing up, but she was a tower of outrage. Angie might go around traumatizing people, but she always knew exactly what she was doing.

Holly didn’t know how to behave, had never quite known how to be friends, let alone anything more. She was the fluffy idiot her parents had always believed, the girl the other girls didn’t want to be around, not someone who knew the magic trick of being taken seriously. She was so, so stupid.

Holly knew she was blushing and was afraid she was going to cry, which would be even more humiliating.

“I was just trying to—” she got out.

“What?” Angela demanded. “What were you trying to do?”

“Never mind,” said Holly.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 22nd, 2014 11:58 pm (UTC)
It's not that you don't let nice things happen to your characters... your books are hardly unrelenting tracks of grim misery... but you do seem to relish the suffering, and point to it gleefully whenever possible.

I, for one, take hope from this snippet. Holly has come to properly appreciate (and fear) the amazing Angela Montgomery, and I'm sure that they will reconcile before you kill off one or both of them.

Four more months...
May. 23rd, 2014 12:06 am (UTC)
I mean, death *is* more sad after a reconciliation, you make fine points...
May. 23rd, 2014 12:55 am (UTC)
Oh, I loved visiting Hay-on-Wye (almost 20 years ago)...I'd love to get there again someday :)
May. 23rd, 2014 01:03 am (UTC)
I'm excited to be going back--sad to be missing Judi Dench, though! So fancy...
May. 23rd, 2014 02:12 am (UTC)
Wow, suddenly I DO enjoy awkwardness! Fingers crossed those two crazy kids work it out and don't perish terribly shortly thereafter.
May. 23rd, 2014 03:40 am (UTC)
It's suddenly occurred to me that you are precisely the sort of evil writer to make your characters more unhappy when they reciprocate each other's feelings than when they do not, so thank you for that stab to the heart, I guess. (Please don't kill them off, please please please. Or at least let them work things out first.)
May. 23rd, 2014 11:46 am (UTC)
ACK! No!
May. 23rd, 2014 11:56 am (UTC)
(Yikes, I got spam filtered. Repeating without dictionary link)


This is what this is. "empathic humiliation for another." This is what I am experiencing right now, except without the unawareness. With the full agony of (Holly's) awareness.

I like being an adult. Poor kids cut each other NO slack for being kids... *hugs them both* *with permission!*

Edited at 2014-05-25 09:06 pm (UTC)
May. 23rd, 2014 07:02 pm (UTC)
Ahh, I love these characters, although perhaps especially Holly ever since the last book. I can only guess at what Angela thinks Holly's doing - making fun of her (which once pretty much played out for me in that exact same scene in middle school, so I know how paranoid people can get about interest that's expressed as if it were a parody of itself)? Trying to make up in a really awkward way and not realizing she's being seductive? Touching her out of gratitude or something else humiliating? - or why Angela reacted that way (I think she's hoping for the best but doesn't want to misread the signs again, and so confronting Holly, in the hope it will make her be honest about her intentions, is the safest way she knows to deal with that fear). But I am positive that there's a giant misunderstanding somewhere that will be resolved before the end! (I do hope that "the end" here means "of the book" and not "of these characters' lives," oh dear.)

I like the part about Holly feeling like a creeper, and her being very knowledgeable about the things that boys do to get girls' attention...but not able to translate that into something that Angela will recognize as affection and desire and respect. I think. Also, Angela really hates the things that boys do to get her attention, and while a lot of that might be that they're boys, it could also have something to do with the approach, so one feels this was not a good move on many levels...

Thank you so much for this snippet!

Lenore (wanted to post using Google, didn't work out for some reason)
May. 24th, 2014 01:40 pm (UTC)
Aaawh those crazy cute kids! I just love Angela, I think she's the best character you have yet written (Elliot coming a close second perhaps... and Serene... and Nick... err... actually don't make me choose I luff everythink!)

Interesting, I love that poor Holly has no idea how to flirt with a girl and so tries to act like the most cliché dude ever (a massage? really? try yawning and slipping an arm across her shoulders next :-/ )

Also, you really have a talent with imagery
"Angela’s shoulders moved under her hands in a shudder of indignant recoil, like a scandalized maiden snake whose Victorian sensibilities had been deeply offended."
That's just deeply brilliant!

Can't wait to pick up my copy soon!
May. 24th, 2014 09:56 pm (UTC)
Just to say it was great to listen to you and Cassandra at Hay... Though there were some decidedly disturbed looking parents in the crowd!

I think the boy with the bible studies question might have exploded if you guys hadn't called on him!
May. 25th, 2014 01:48 am (UTC)
You're a petal for coming! The crowd was so enthused, I just loved them all.
May. 25th, 2014 09:45 am (UTC)
I have resigned myself to the fact that you repay my devotion and adoration with the gleeful laughter of a woman with crushed hearts flowing over her fingers. I spend my life wishing only to ensure that you continue to write whatever you enjoy writing and maybe to make out with you a little bit; I must accept that what you want to write is things that stab me to the core.
May. 25th, 2014 10:45 am (UTC)
"I was trying to ..." FINISH THAT FREAKING SENTENCE, HOLLY. "Hit on you. Clumsily make a pass at you. Communicate that I do in fact like-like you." Aaargh. Poor girls!

I love the little detail of Holly feeling Angela's shoulders as narrower than a man's. Oh and Angela being a Victorian snake!
May. 25th, 2014 09:58 pm (UTC)
I just read Unspoken and Untold. Then I went and read all the snippets from Unmade. Several times. And it's still not September :-(

I loved the books, both of them. Though there could have been more making out in Untold, after all the tension in Unspoken. ;-)

Well, only four more months of waiting...
May. 29th, 2014 05:12 pm (UTC)
OH HOLLY. THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY. (But also sad. Because oh Holly.)

Jun. 2nd, 2014 04:37 am (UTC)
ohhhhhhh Hollyyyyyyy, nooooooo.

My boos, you must learn to talk about your feelings! With words! So other people have a prayer of guessing what you mean!

And omg Holly thinking she is stupid. =( =( =( Sadface forever. WHY CAN'T I HUG HER.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


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