Keeper of the Bees (Black Bird of the Gallows #2)
By: Meg Kassel
Publication Date: September 4th, 2018
“Beauty and the beast like you’ve never imagined!” —New York Times bestselling author Pintip Dunn
KEEPER OF THE BEES is a tale of two teens who are both beautiful and beastly, and whose pasts are entangled in surprising and heartbreaking ways.
Dresden is cursed. His chest houses a hive of bees that he can’t stop from stinging people with psychosis-inducing venom. His face is a shifting montage of all the people who have died because of those stings. And he has been this way for centuries—since he was eighteen and magic flowed through his homeland, corrupting its people.
He follows harbingers of death, so at least his curse only affects those about to die anyway. But when he arrives in a Midwest town marked for death, he encounters Essie, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from debilitating delusions and hallucinations. His bees want to sting her on sight. But Essie doesn’t see a monster when she looks at Dresden.
Essie is fascinated and delighted by his changing features. Risking his own life, he holds back his bees and spares her. What starts out as a simple act of mercy ends up unraveling Dresden’s solitary life and Essie’s tormented one. Their impossible romance might even be powerful enough to unravel a centuries-old curse.
A TON of material from my books wind up on the cutting room floor! When I world build, I WORLD BUILD, but most of it wouldn’t enhance the story, so it can’t stay. I wish it could, but it would be the kind of stuff that most readers (and me, if I wasn’t the writer) would probably skim. I’ve been told I cut too much, sometimes. It really depends on the readers taste and my own judgement call. I’m not always right. I tend to worry about things like losing the readers attention by being to verbose, so I cut. Usually, by the end of a novel, I have 30-40K of words in the “trash” folder of my Scrivener document. Most of it legit belongs there, honestly. So, I have for you today a few tidbits and facts from Keeper of the Bees that didn’t make it into the final version of the book.
- Dresden, my delightfully damaged hero, has forgotten his long, long name from his human life. Since he FORGOT it, I couldn’t include it, could I? I remembered that in the second draft and it bummed me out to have to cut it, but I’ll tell you now. Dresden’s full name is: Dresdonemous Aroum Archemadae. No wonder he forgot that mouthful, right? He is North African and Greek, of a kingdom on the Mediterranean that has long since vanished from history.
- Essie’s artistic talent is not the main thrust of the story, but a useful element to show that she has talent and a desire to break from the protected, supervised life she leads due to her mental concerns. As an art school grad myself, I loved giving Essie a visual way of expressing her emotions and fears the same way I did/do—through images.
- There is more of me in Essie than any other character I’ve written.
- The original draft had an enormous amount of history regarding Dresden’s origins. How he became a Beekeeper, the magical rules/hierarchy stuff like that. I had to cut most of it, because if he forgot most of his own NAME, he certainly wouldn’t remember the names and intricacies of court life from so long ago. Plus, I don’t think it moved his and Essie’s story forward. I still think about writing a book based back then, but it would be real fantasy but with HISTORY. The thought of all that research makes me reach for the Tums.
- The character of Michael, Dresden’s friend and harbinger of death, is far more complex than can be shown in the book. Again, it isn’t HIS story, so his origins and personal issues didn’t all fit in this book. Michael comes across as a lighter character, to counter Dresden’s dark moodiness, but under his joking veneer is someone truly desperate to find an end to his curse. He was changed into a harbinger at the very end of a full life, as an old man, so he entered into this version of immortality with the a full lifetime of human wisdom. A bit of his serious side comes out when he has his scene alone with Essie and her grandmother. It also is revealed more in the novella, Cleaner of Bones, when he actually encounters the harbinger hero of the last book, Reece, from Black Bird of the Gallows.
Meg Kassel is an author of fantasy and speculative books for young adults. A graduate of Parson’s School of Design, she’s been creating stories, whether with visuals or words, since childhood. Meg is a New Jersey native who lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her husband and daughter. As a fan of ’80s cartoons, Netflix series, and ancient mythology, she has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart® winner in YA and a double 2018 RITA® finalist for her debut novel, Black Bird of the Gallows.
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