((So, to help with this blog tour, I’d volunteered to host a character interview. However, I have a hard time asking questions, myself. So, I got one of my characters to do it. Also, due to my affinity for primates, the character I chose to go with was a chimp named Ian. So without further ado…))
Travis walked through the zoo, his tail flicking lightly behind him. He’d gotten a few weird looks from some of those visiting. It was like they’d never seen a half-monkey guy before. Granted, he took no measures to hide his opposable toes or prehensile tail. He wasn’t even walking on two legs, choosing a gait not unlike that of many primates. He’d stopped off to ask a few of those working there where he could find someone he’d been hoping to speak to. Word had gotten out about there being someone that could go between being either a human or a chimp, and it was rare that he ever got to talk to someone like that. The closest he’d gotten were other monkey/human hybrids like himself, and those two were related to him by blood. So when he’d found out about this chimp named Ian, he knew he had to find his way to St. Louis. His girlfriend had a job somewhere around the city, anyway, so he’d tagged along.
Soon enough, the redhead had found himself at the zoo’s old monkey house. He paused before entering, checking himself over for a moment. Okay, good. He had an Epipen ready to go, just in case. He knew that a lot of others of the primate persuasion tended to like bananas. But a banana allergy tended to run in his family and he just wanted to be on the safe side.
He slowly walked around the old monkey house. He saw monkeys and lemurs aplenty, but there didn’t appear to be any chimps in here. Had he got the wrong building? There was an ape area in a different part of the zoo. Had Ian moved there? He was just about to leave when he caught a glimpse of something in the corner of his eye. But surely there was nothing in that corner of the building, just wall. Nevertheless he walked forward and was amazed when suddenly the area changed and a large glass window appeared where before there was none.
He peered inside and saw him. Ian the chimp was sitting on the sofa wearing a tuxedo and sipping a large yellow cocktail. He appeared to be engrossed in a TV show that was playing on a huge flat screen set up on the other side of the room.
Travis tapped on the glass. Ian looked up. He removed a silver wand from the pocket of his tuxedo and pointed it at the glass. The glass melted and Travis walked into the enclosure.
“Hi, there – you must be Travis. I heard you were coming by. Can I get you a drink? Banana daiquiri?”
“Oh no thank you,” said Travis quickly, seating himself on an old worn but comfortable armchair. “So…you can turn into a human and a chimp? Nice! What’s that like? Does it hurt?”
“Not at all,” said Ian, chuckling. “Though to be honest these days I prefer to stay in this form.”
“Does it bother you if someone calls you a monkey? I mean, I’ve been called a chimp before and it kinda tends to get on my nerves. Might just be me, though. It’s just that it’s one of the few science-y things I actually know…”
“Nah, I know they’re only monkeying around!”
Travis chuckled slightly, before pushing a stray bit of hair back in place.
“Alright, so, I hear you work with this group called ‘P.A.W.S.’? What do they do??
“P.A.W.S. is the Partnership of Animagi, Werewolves, and Shapeshifters. It’s an umbrella organization for shifters that spans the globe. There are P.A.W.S. Institutes in many cities including London, New York, Paris, and of course here in St. Louis. The mission of P.A.W.S. is to train shapeshifters and to keep the larger population safe from the criminal magical element.”
He nodded, sort of wondering if there was such an institute in Philadelphia. But he didn’t really think to ask.
“Is magic a full-blown thing for you guys, or is that just limited to shapeshifting and such? Wait, IS it magic, or is there some weird DNA-ish stuff going on around here, too?”
“It’s magic and yes, it’s a full-blown thing. I am an animagus. That means I studied to become a chimp. I chose the form for its versatility. But it took a lot of work to perfect it. I have other magic too. I use my silver wand and scrying bowl to perform a lot of spells. Simple ones, like the telekinesis that allows me to flick my wand like this and get myself another daiquiri from the fridge. Or more complex ones like the illusion that keeps this enclosure invisible to non-magical human eyes.
“Each of the P.A.W.S. shifters has a different magical skill. The werewolves, for example, have strong tracker magic. The true shapeshifters get their magic from silver amulets that are passed on through the generations and apart from their animal forms they also have a special magic all of their own. Miri Katz, for example, a cat shifter, also has the power of empathy. She can sense the feelings of others and enhance and return those feelings. It is much more powerful than you think and can be used both as a healing touch and a weapon.”
As he listened, Travis found himself thinking of magic back home. It worked a bit differently, and he had a feeling that his brother-in-law in particular would find it interesting. He’d catch up on that with him later, though.
“This might be kind of a weird question—and if you don’t wanna answer it, you don’t have to—but what do you remember being first: a human or a chimp?”
“I was a human first. The chimp part came later after I perfected that form.”
Travis nodded slightly, still finding the thought of being able to control the ability to shift to be interesting. He had a unique ability of his own, but there was no controlling that one and it just sort of kicked in on its own.
“Do you prefer being a chimp for any specific reason? I mean, I can definitely get the advantages…seriously, having extra hands can be AWESOME!”
“In every city where P.A.W.S. has an institute there’s a liaison at the local zoo. In London, for example, there is a wonderful old camel called Shirley that does the job. I come from a magical family and was sent to the P.A.W.S. Institute in St. Louis for my education, but I couldn’t decide initially what animal I wanted to be. But then this job opportunity opened up at the zoo. It’s all expenses paid and kind of neat, so that decided me. I pretty much could have chosen any zoo animal, but a primate had an appeal. And after looking through books of primates I decided on the chimp. Best decision I made. It’s a great life.”
He nodded again.
“So you like your job? It sounds like it could be fun.”
“Love my job and then sometimes my friend Josh (he’s a werewolf) comes by and brings me huge bunches of bananas – then it’s great! You don’t happen to have any bananas do you?”
Travis rubbed the back of his neck in response. This always felt a little weird to him, but he soon admitted it.
“No, sorry. Allergic.”
“Oh, I’m sorry mate. That must suck!”
“That’s OK, So what would you say annoys you most?”
“Mean people. You see a lot of them at the zoo. Folks that taunt and laugh at the animals. Not cool.”
He nodded in agreement, not being a fan of those types of people, himself.
“Is there anything that scares you? Feel free to ignore that one if you don’t wanna answer it.”
“Alistair” (shiver) “I know the folk at P.A.W.S. say he’s been destroyed, but I don’t believe that. A werewolf that powerful is not so easily beaten.”
Part of him was curious about that…but he didn’t pursue that thread any further. He figured that might just put a damper on the whole mood. And so, it was on to a subject change.
“Outta curiosity, do you have a girlfriend? What’s she like?”
“Well now that you ask, there is a young simian that has grabbed my heart. Her name is Olivia. Do you want to see a picture?” Ian pulls out a photo from the pocket of his tuxedo of a formidable orangutan. “Isn’t she adorable?”
“Yes, um, very fetching.”
After a bit of time, an alert of some sort went off from inside Travis’ pocket.
“Sorry about that…should probably take this,” he said, pulling his phone out with his tail.
It turned out to be a text from his own girlfriend. The job she was there for was complete, and she was ready to come by and pick him up for the trip home.
“Well, thanks for talking to me, but I should probably get going for now. Thanks again!”
“Anytime, always a pleasure to meet a fellow simian.”
And with that, Travis left the enclosure, ready to head home and happy to have had this meeting. His tail flicked again on the way out.
The book can be found HERE!
And please check out the other books in this series, as well!