What if hundreds of years in the future humanity is gone and birds reign supreme? And what if, before our departure, we somehow imbued our sapience, our intellect, upon them? What would their society look like as they gleaned our knowledge, built their civilization upon our ruins, and worked out the differences and strengths of their myriad species? It would certainly be a very different world but would they escape the faults that plagued humankind? Follow along as a group of birdfriends venture forth into Volatalia, an avian kingdom that has risen from the ashes of the human age. Tristan, a barn owl, and Pepro, a bald eagle, embark on a journey to the town of Whiterock in aid of their mentor, Kor, a grizzled but kind-hearted raven blacksmith, who is commissioned to create rings for a pair bonding the likes of which has never been seen. Soon they meet new friends, Nyx, a peregrine falcon, and Perry, a burn-out Laysan albatross. But there is more afoot than an elaborate marriage and forces, greedy for power, pull them apart. Will their desire for truth and their love for each other be enough to save them?
Enjoy this excerpt from Whiterock, due out in 2024… The smile on Tristan’s beak was as wide as the country that spread out before his eyes as he and Pepro climbed up over the village. Galinta was seated at the confluence of two creeks in the bottom of a gentle valley. Long slopes of tall, green grass were crowned by conifers on the ridges above and seated in reedy marshes and broad, bare oaks below. Songbirds sang with springtime vigor and the branches of the oaks hung low with heavy buds, just beginning to burst into fresh, new leaves. Tristan followed Pepro in a wide circle over town as he climbed to get his bearings and spot distant landmarks. Tristan took the opportunity to look over the town, the only community he had ever really gotten to know. There was the bathing spot he had just washed at the night before. To one side was an open patch of worn ground with perches arranged around it. This is where town meetings and other events took place. Around this were benches and tables where birds sold goods and forage during the day. And above that, on the hillside were trees that bore the more permanent shops and dwellings. The shelters took many forms, depending upon the species that built them and the skills of the individual. Some were simple nests, some were huts, and others were elaborately decorated tents and houses. On the edge of the village, near the creek, was Kor’s tree. It was the largest oak in the village and had been in his family for generations. Its fat trunk was wrinkled by centuries of age. A thin ribbon of grey smoke curled up from metal flue in its heart and Tristan could still see the wooden sign that hung above the landing deck at the doorway. It bore Kor’s insignia: The silhouette of a raven with an eye of red onyx circled by a setting of gold. He remembered the first time he looked at it, when his parents brought him to Kor. It was the first gem that he had ever seen. His keen eyes could still catch the red glint of the stone even now, high above town. Pepro flattened his wings out and glided northward towards the nearby ridge. Tristan knew that he had spotted a thermal to help them on their way so he turned and followed. As they crossed the ridge, they caught a strong rise of warm air, a thermal that lifted them many thousands of feet over Galinta Valley. An hour later they were so high and had drifted so far east that Galinta was but a patch of trees blending into a background of hazy blue forests and meadows behind them. Tristan had never flown so high, or so far, from Galinta before. The only other long trip he had made was his day-long journey with his parents from the Western Meadows. Now a wide, new world spread out before him and it thrilled him down to his talons. But the dizzying heights also scared him. It was far higher than owls dared to climb. He smiled nervously at Pepro, confident that his big friend knew what he was doing, even if he felt like a small feather adrift in a huge ocean of air. Pepro smiled back. “Get in behind me, just a bit off to the right and a little above.” Tristan tilted his wings and settled into the spot Pepro suggested. Air spilled off Pepro’s primaries, the outermost, finger-like flight feathers, in undulating swirls, like water washing over smooth rocks in a river. By riding in the upwash, he felt himself carried along with less effort, which was important since he had only half the wingspan of Pepro. Tristan’s wings buffeted, “Ah! Oh! Wow! I see, Peppy! Thanks!” “Don’t mention it. When I swing around in the thermals, always ride the wing that’s on the downwind side. You’ll get a better boost.” The two flattened into a long, straight glide, heading for another batch of rippling thermals on a ridge a few kilometers away. Despite Pepro’s closeness, Tristan still felt vulnerable so high above the ground. Gusting winds high up in the sky could tear him apart, not to mention being vulnerable to attack by a multitude of predators. As if reading his mind, Pepro encouraged him. “You’re doing great, Tristan. Don’t worry. I’m right here with you. And you know what? I was really scared the first time I flew this high.” Tristan’s wings rocked with a hard gust and he shut his eyes for a tense moment. “N-no way! You were s-scared?” “Aww, Tris. It’s ok. Here, ride on my back for a while.” Pepro dropped his toes slightly and slid back underneath Tristan. “Go on, let me help ya.” Tristan felt instantly relieved by the warmth of his friend under him. He lowered his feet onto Pepro’s back. “Ah! That tickles!” Pepro giggled and staggered in flight. Tristan curled his toes and tried again, this time resting on his hocks. He folded his wings only partway so as not to burden his friend too greatly. Pepro’s feathers were soft and comforting. Tristan leaned his beak forward over Pepro’s nape and chirped to him, “It must have been scary for you when you started your Wander. How did you get through it, all by yourself?” “Oh it was tough. But I had help. My Uncle Perro taught me to fly and hunt, and I had friends to encourage me too. So, when I finally went off on my own, sure it was scary, but I was ready. I just thought of them and their words of encouragement and took one challenge at a time.” Pepro cocked his left eye towards Tristan, “And I’ll do the same for you, Tris.”
I’m currently in the editing phase for this novel and there will be two volumes. I’m hoping to release the first volume in 2024. Please watch for announcements!