I’m sharing an excerpt from Chris Tomasini’s novel, Close Your Eyes. I hope you enjoy.
(Samuel’s first person narration)
In the early morning hours of June 1, 1431, the castle of Gora echoed and sounded with the cries of mobilizing soldiers. Preceded by hundreds of horsemen, the soldiers rumbled through the city and fanned into the surrounding countryside. The city populace awoke to the confusion, and meeting in the dark streets, neighbours questioned each other as to the reason for the hysteria. The most widely believed rumour was that forces of the Holy Roman Empire were preparing to attack our King. This caused considerable alarm, for our land had been at peace for nearly two decades, and war was thought of as a terrible plague that existed only in distant, foreign lands.
It was not war which had sent torches blazing and soldiers careening through the night, and though the true reason was known, and often spoken, it was as often dismissed, seeming too inconsequential and unlikely to be the cause of such a disturbance. The truth, which none of those people milling about in the city streets believed, was that the King’s cook and storyteller had fled the castle.
I was found wandering about the castle halls that night, and a party of guards subsequently escorted me to my room. They closed me in and set two watchmen outside the door. Alone in my cell I opened the shutters of my window, leant against the stone wall, stared up at the full moon, and listened to the shouts and cries drifting from the fields and through the city. I knew that I would be unable to sleep, but nevertheless I climbed into bed where I found, to my surprise, a scroll lying hidden amongst the furs and cushions. I sat up in the darkness and held it reverently in my hands. I knew immediately what it was – my parting gift from the storyteller, from my friend Tycho.
It is now 1435. When I found Tycho’s scroll in 1431 I was illiterate, and it has taken me four arduous years to learn the mysteries of the written word. Reading Tycho’s scroll, which proved to be an infrequently kept journal, and certain other documents which came into my possession, I developed a desire to write the story of my friend, a daunting task, for it is the story of a storyteller.
I spoke to an old and wise friend of my desire to write Tycho’s history. I asked him where I should begin, and he replied “At the beginning.” I pondered this for a few days, then returned to him and asked “Which one?” The old man smiled patiently, answering “My friend, the answer lies within yourself.”
That was a year ago. This business of writing, it is like being cast into a blackened dungeon, with your arms bound behind your back, and then ordered to sound out the dimensions of the room by bashing your head against the walls.
A year, but after so many false starts and counterfeit revelations, I think I have finally understood what my old friend meant.
Here’s the blurb
Set in early 1400s Europe, Close Your Eyes is a sincere, yet light-hearted and lustful, ode to love. As Samuel, the court jester, struggles to describe why his friends, Agnieszka the cook, and Tycho the story-teller, fled the King of Gora’s service, he learns that love was the beating heart behind everything that happened in the castle.
He learns as well that more ghosts than he knew of walked the midnight halls, and that the spirit of Jeanne d’Arc haunted his friend, and once slid into bed with Tycho, daring him to leave – to take to the cold roads of Europe, where he had once wandered orphaned and alone, and find his destiny there.
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Meet the author
Chris Tomasini lives in Ontario, Canada. He has studied creative writing via Humber College’s “Correspondence Program in Creative Writing”, and through the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.
In the 1990s Chris taught English as a Second Language and had stops in England, Poland, and Japan.
Since 2000, Chris has worked in bookstores, publishing, and in libraries.
Chris is married with two children, and can often be found (though not very easily) on a bicycle on country roads in central Ontario.
Connect with Chris