Title: Troll Or Derby
Genre/Age Group: Fantasy / YA
Author: Red Tash
Release Date: June 2012
In Troll Or Derby, fifteen-year-old Roller Deb is singled out by town bullies for both her skates, and for being different. When her popular homecoming queen of a sister is kidnapped by a scuzzy drug dealer, Deb must flee the trailer park in which she’s grown up, and rescue her. Along the way, Deb becomes enmeshed in the magical realm of trolls and fairies, and the blood-thirsty version of roller derby at which these beings excel. But spending too much time among the fairies comes with a price. Will Deb choose to save her sister, with the aid of a mysterious troll? Or will she be lost to the lures of roller derby, and this magical new realm, forever?
I’d Love to Change the World
I want you to understand something. I didn’t rise up out of the ground fully grown, I wasn’t the bastard child of an angry god, and I didn’t become this way because I was cursed. My skin’s not green and I won’t turn to stone in the sunlight.
When I was young, I had a mother, and she was a troll. I had a mother and a father who were both trolls, in fact–and we were a family. Yes, I had a family. Just like you.
Almost everything I know about humans, I’ve learned from their trash. Redbook and Woman’s Day show up at my doorstep more than any other source, I reckon. It may not be a perfect picture of what your life is like, but I’m betting I’ve got a more accurate view of your lifestyle than you have of mine, at least for the time being.
For starters, there’s a shopping mall full of differences between troll family life, and how human families live. Trolls, for instance, do not typically invest a lot of emotion into their own young–often don’t even raise them. They especially don’t socialize with their relatives for special occasions. You won’t see us breaking out the patio umbrellas and the ice chests full of soda for a family barbecue. A special occasion in troll culture is when the villagers rise up and try to corral one of us in a cave, or something like that. At least, that’s how it used to be. That’s what my mom told me. I remember that.
I remember a lot more now than I did, when this adventure started—but I’ll get to that.
Best I can tell, my nuclear family was more like a human family than a troll one. The extended family, as you English would call it, was a mess. A big, illegal, drug-running, slaving mess. But I’ll get to that. This is my part of the story and I want to begin in the beginning. I’m not a storyteller. It’s not my profession. Bear with me while I sort this out, okay?
Sure, you’re going to think what you want about trolls. I mean, you’ve seen movies, you’ve read Rowling and Tolkien. I’m telling you that the real-live working-class trolls of the Midwest are nothing like you’ve been told. We’re capable of great violence, sure, and I’ll concede that our proclivity is largely toward evil, but let’s face it—a lot of that comes down to breeding and culture.
In our world, might most definitely makes right. That’s the fundamental law of troll culture, although most trolls would forego the flowery wording and just express it with a grunt and blow to the head.
Trolls as a species, though, are capable of great love. I know, because I’ve experienced it. You don’t live with something like that and ever forget. If you do, you’re a fool, anyway.
My parents weren’t totally solitary like so many other trolls are. They even had a very close friendship with a fairy family called the Wheelers. If we’d celebrated holidays, the Wheelers were the ones we’d have invited over for a Fourth of July cookout. We didn’t do that a lot, that I can recall. We did raid sinkholes filled with garbage on a few occasions, though. Good times.
The Wheelers were not just fairies, they were Protectors. Fleet of foot and quick of mind, their instincts were so well-tuned as to be mistaken for psychic powers, by most. According to my mother, in the old days humans and fairies alike worshiped or feared the breed of fairy the Wheelers were. Their massive black wings shimmering in air above a crowd of would-be foes were beautiful and awesome—I remember that, too. Sometimes. The memories come and go, unless I’m looking at Deb. Then I can’t forget.
Anyway, these two particular Wheelers, Marnie and Mannox, were so powerful and strong, everyone lived in fear of them. Everyone but my folks, and me, I guess. The Wheelers were my fairy godparents. I don’t remember much about them, but I remember that.
Trying to remember is a full-time job. I’ve visited the library in Bloomington, and even picked through the local bookstore in Bedrock, curious about what the old days used to be like. Maybe there’d be a book there, or something. I read in a muddy copy of Psychology Today once that some therapists use fairy tales to trigger vital memories in their patients—and I used to get these blank spots, this fogginess.
Anyway, my point is, among the children’s stories and the romantic teen fiction, and even in a lot of the comic books, there’s some truth. Mostly fiction, but if you look hard enough, you can see through the tall tales, and find the common thread within. I’ve always been good at that sort of thing. Figuring stuff out.
The one thing I wish I’d figured out sooner was what to do about my uncle Jag.
Why? Well, for starters, my uncle killed my parents, and my fairy godparents. It was immediately after the bonding ceremony between their baby daughter and me. The Wheelers had pledged to protect my parents, and by extension, me. My parents were to protect Deb, and I was, by extension . . .
Well, I jump ahead of myself. I told you I’m not good with stories.
I should start with an introduction, shouldn’t I?
My name is Harlow Saarkenner. I am an American Troll living in rural Indiana, and this is the story of how I met a kick-ass rollergirl, rejoined a rock band, and lived happily ever after.
In a landfill. Did I mention that?
But there’s more. Stay tuned. I’m just going to tell it like it happened, best I can. Deb will fill in the rest.
About the Author:
Red Tash is a journalist-turned-novelist of dark fantasy for readers of all ages. Monsters, SciFi, wizards, trolls, fairies, and roller derby lightly sautéed in a Southern/Midwestern sauce hand-canned from her mama’s recipes await you in her pantry of readerly delights. Y’all come, anytime.