You can read the first chapter of The Handsome Guest on arts and writing site failbetter.com. Here’s an excerpt of the excerpt:
Finally the visitor arrived. Agnes raced to the door and then stood very still, her hands on the belly of her apron, taking a deep breath as though to calm herself. She swept the door open.
There stood her guest, “the most interesting man.”
Eli tried not to stare. He did not see a man at all. What he saw was an enormous, powerful ape crushed into a filthy pinstripe suit. He remembered a book from school about exotic beasts, the giant apes who lived in “the savage countries of the world,” and the guest resembled those creatures: deep hooded brow, small shining eyes, mouth like a long black gash. And the hair! The guest was so hairy that Eli was unsure of the color of his skin: beneath the thick brown fur, his flesh – tough and charred, like strips of dried deer meat – appeared to glow red in some places, purple in others.
Eli gaped. He was horrified and delighted.
Remembering his manners, he stepped to the side and said, politely, “Please, sir, come in.”
You’ll want to read the whole thing here. Shields will be appearing at this weekend’s Bedtime Stories gala for Humanities Washington, along with Jess Walter, Shawn Vestal and Washington Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken. Sheilds recently talked about her background in libraries, literary influences and attraction to the dark and the fantastical in an interview with Humanities Washington’s online magazine.
We wrote about Shields and a number of other Northwest writers before the Get Lit! festival last spring. Look for a story about Spokane writers in this week’s upcoming Fall Arts Preview (along with a whole list of literary events).