Character Interview- Mallory

Posted: January 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

Here we go with another A Twist of Fate interview, this time with Rebecca Bruner’s character Mallory, from her modern day take on the story of The Frog Prince.

Of the two guys nearing the med school campus, one looked a bit more out-of-place than the other. The taller, thinner of the two seemed a lot more comfortable in this environment, and had mainly just come along to make sure his red-haired, monkey/human hybrid friend didn’t get lost. Their destination was actually the coffee shop not too far from campus. While the taller one was looking to get some coffee, the redhead was after some conversation.

 

They strode into the coffee shop, Travis’ red tail twitching lightly. He was here to speak with a pre-med student by the name of Mallory. He was looking around for her, thinking over what sorts of questions to ask.

 

A slender girl wearing Converse high tops, blue jeans, and a hoodie rushed through the front door. Her light brown hair was twisted into a sloppy bun at the top of her head and secured with a pencil. She stepped up to the counter with the air of somebody in a hurry and ordered a large coffee with a shot of espresso.

 

After placing her order, she glanced around, looking for the guys she was supposed to be meeting. She checked her cell phone for the time.

 

The taller one nudged his friend. Having been through med school himself and all, he had the feeling that this rushed girl was probably set to go down that path, herself.

 

“Hey. Is your name Mallory, by any chance?” Travis called toward her.

 

The girl glanced up from her cell phone and did a double take. She looked the red haired creature over. “Oh, hi. You must be Travis. Do you want to sit down?”

 

Travis nodded. “Yeah, might be a good idea. Any preference where? Also, thanks for taking the time out for this interview. I can get how busy the whole pre-med thing can be, then med school itself.” He jerked a thumb toward his companion. “Spence here frickin’ mainlined caffeine the whole time.”

He looked for a good spot, tail twitching again.

 

Just then the Barista called Mallory’s name. “Speaking of mainlining caffeine, I’d better get my coffee.” She hurried over to the counter, collected her drink and then plopped down in one of the upholstered chairs near a window that looked out on the nearby park. She motioned to the adjacent sofa. “Here, sit.” She took a big slurp of coffee. “So are you a journalist? Why did you want to interview me?”

He thought of how to answer that one as he sat down, fingers drumming on his thigh.

 

“Well…somewhat. I kinda do these interviews for this one writer’s blog to help promo other authors and whatnot. I wish I could say it was in exchange for her, y’know NOT hurting me, but that’d be a lie…”

 

Mallory frowned. “No offense, but are we talking animal cruelty here? No, wait. That came out wrong. I’m not saying you’re an animal. I’m just personally very opposed to animal cruelty. I’m not even sure I’ll have the guts to dissect a frog.”

 

With a slight chuckle, Travis shook his head. “Not animal cruelty, exactly. More like messing with the genetic experiment…”

 

“Genetics is fascinating! So many cool things they can do now with gene therapy and everything! Sorry, you were saying?”

 

but if we started going into that, we’d probably be here all day, and this is more about you and not the part about my being a genetic freak, and…um…wow, okay, so I kinda started rambling there for a sec. Anyway, I’d wanted to interview you because of this anthology you–well, okay, all three of us, far as I know–are in. I realize I probably sound kinda crazy here. But the first question I’d have for you…what made you want to pursue medicine? Mainly curious, there.”

 

“As far as medical school, I was always sorta interested in medicine. I was about seventeen when my dad died of cancer. I promised him on his deathbed that I’d become a doctor. I want to make a difference for good in the world, you know?”

 

“I can get that,” Travis replied, leaning back a bit. “So, hoping for the best with your goals, there. Now, is there anything specific that makes you so opposed to animal cruelty? Or is it just on principle?”

 

“I think mainly just in principle. But I sit in biology lab week after week watching those poor frogs with their big, sad, eyes climbing over each other in the tank and I keep thinking what it must be like to be one of them.” She glanced from Travis to Spence. “Course you can’t go to medical school if you don’t pass biology. I know I’m gonna have to toughen up and dissect one some day.” She shuddered. “Just not looking forward to it!”

 

“I have a pretty good idea of what it’s like,” said Travis, cringing a bit. “But yeah, I can get how it’d be tough for you, as well. It’s kinda nice to talk to someone that’s not all gung-ho about cutting one open, y’know? Um, okay, next question…Spence, I think you had one?”

 

Spencer nodded. “Is there a particular field you want to specialize in?” he asked.

 

“I’m not sure. I’ve considered obstetrics, or maybe neonatology. I’ve also thought a lot about oncology, cuz of my dad. But then you’re always dealing with really sick people, dying people.” She took a big swig of coffee and swished it around in her mouth. “Maybe I’ll become a surgeon.”

 

Travis glanced over at Spencer for a moment, the slimmer of the two giving him a few quick definitions. Once he had an understanding of what each field she’d mentioned covered, he nodded, writing something down on the notepad he generally brought along to these interviews.

 

“Next question. What might you do if medicine wasn’t an option? Holy shit, I just realized that might sound like I don’t have any faith in you to get through this…”

 

Mallory grimaced. “You sound a bit like my stepmother, Janice. Doesn’t matter that I’ve got straight A’s. She’s convinced I’m going to screw up somehow.”

 

Travis flinched slightly, now having thoughts of his own dad’s opinion of him. Okay, time to cover himself here…

 

“I’m pretty sure you’ve got this! But like, in another reality…?”

 

Mallory chuckled. “I’m not sure. I might volunteer with the Peace Corps or something. But really, I’m a senior, my dad left me money for college in his will. It would take a major catastrophe to keep me from graduating in May!” She took a sip of coffee, then looked up at Spence. “Providing I don’t flunk biology for failing to dissect a frog!”

 

Spencer pushed up his glasses. “That’s one of those things that gave me a bit of trouble a while back, as well,” he said. “But you can do this, I’m sure.”

 

Travis nodded. “So, your stepmother…do you two get along at all, or…?”

 

Mallory snorted. “She’s like the bane of my existence. You know how in fairy tales there’s never a kind, sweet stepmother? They’re all wicked and cruel. Janice must have read a lot of those stories as a kid, cuz boy does that fit her! She’d say I’m totally ungrateful, of course. I say she’s a psycho drama queen!”

 

The half-monkey let out a chuckle. “Ah, one of those types…I’d say my dad was the same way, but the drama thing’s a level of sophistication he never got to. More of a yeller… Um, okay, next question, next question…

 

Mallory checked her cell phone. “I’ve got a few more minutes, then I’ve got to get to class.”

 

“If you ever found out that you were, like, a character in a story, what might you ask the author? Like, about anything?”

 

Spencer shot him a look, wondering how an existential question was that much better than bringing up parental/step-parental issues.  

 

Mallory looked bemused. “I guess I’d ask the author if I’m going to make it. I mean, will I become a doctor? Will I find true love? Will I live happily ever after? Sounds pretty stupid, I know, but sometimes I wonder.”

 

“Makes sense to me,” Travis replied. “And like both of us have said with med school, we’re pretty sure things will work out. Might not be in the way you expect, but things, in my experience at least, seem to ultimately work out for the…I don’t wanna say BEST, exactly, but sometimes for the least painful? I have no idea if that makes sense, but either way, none of that sounds stupid.”

 

His tail twitched a little more, as he came to the next one. Just one more after this, I promise. Anyway, with the true love thing, is there anything specific you’re looking for?”

 

Mallory giggled. “Maybe Michelangelo’s David translated to flesh and blood? I’m such a nerd! But if we’re talking total wish fulfillment here…” She took a slurp of coffee, then threw her head back and laughed. “Course that’s never gonna happen. But I can dream, can’t I?”

 

Travis’ tail twitched a bit, slapping against Spencer’s leg. “It might happen. Not really a given either way. But I wouldn’t rule it out, y’know? Alright, last one, since, y’know, class and all.”

 

“Biology lab. Not looking forward to it, but I need all the points I can get!”

 

He nodded, before thinking on that last question. “So, you mentioned being against animal cruelty. Do you have a favorite animal? And if so, what would it be? Yeah, probably kind of a random one, but…yeah.”

 

She smiled. “I like lots of animals. I kinda like orangutans. Are they any relation to you?”

 

He chuckled slightly. “I’m really not sure. Started off as human, and mom sorta…I guess you could say ‘borrowed’ some DNA from the zoo? There might be some orangutan in there, but the redhead thing’s always been there. Anyway, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us.”

 

“My pleasure.” Mallory stood up, grabbed her coffee, and gave a little wave. “It was great meeting you both. Best of luck with your blog.” She checked the time again. “Gotta run.” With that, she dashed out of the coffee shop.

You can find out more about her writing on Facebook! And here’s hoping you’ll all add the anthology to your to-read list!

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Another of the A Twist of Fate interviews, we have one Anita Stewart’s character, from her contribution to the anthology: Stephan!

The two figures just sort of appeared outside of the castle. One was tall, slim, and about ready to drop from exhaustion, muttering about his friend asking him to teleport them all over creation.

 

“Sorry, Spence,” said the second figure, a slightly less-tall redhead with abnormally long hair and a long prehensile tail. “I’d teleport myself here, but I kinda can’t, y’know?”

 

The two moved toward the entrance, and probably looked a bit out of place (given that they were from the modern day US, and were now in some sort of Victorian-era version of Bavaria, if the half-monkey remembered correctly). Looking over his notes, Travis could see the name of his interviewee for today. Man by the name of Stephan, and there was something about him having a rather unique arm.

 

Trav looked around for any guards or his interviewee…any way to get inside and get this interview started.

 

A creaking door and a clanking noise caught their attention. A hidden door opened and a mechanized man stepped out of the entranceway. “Greetings, gentlemen. You must be the expected guests. I am Friedrich, the castle’s butler. If you will follow me, I will show you to the room we’ve prepared for the interview, and where Herr Stephan awaits.”

 

The pair exchanged glances and trailed after the butler into the castle. They were led to a parlour, where Stephan waited, and Friedrich showed them to their seats. The young blond man smiled and nodded, and that’s when they noticed the tip of a white wing poking out of his shirt sleeve, where his left hand should be.

 

Both sat down, Spencer pulling off his glasses and cleaning them off on his shirt. Travis cleared his throat. “So…Stephan, right? Thanks, first off, for agreeing to meet with me. First one, just to get this question out there…how’d you end up with the wing? I’m really just curious about that one, you see.”

 

His tail twitched a little, as he wondered if that was the best question he could have started with.

 

“The usual sort of thing. My evil hag of a stepmother,” Stephan scowled as he mentioned her name, “cursed me and my brothers. Turned us into swans. My poor sister had to lift the curse by weaving us nettle shirts, but unfortunately mine still lacked an arm as time ran out. Hence my still having a wing.” He wiggled the feathers, and a few bits of down floated to the floor.

 

“Damn…” Travis replied. “I can kinda get how that goes. No step-parents, but the parent issues in general…yeah. Glad your sister was able to reverse the curse. Y’know, for the most part, anyway… How would you say you get along with your family? Aside from the stepmother, I mean.”

 

Stephan frowned. “Relationships are strained. My family tries to be accepting, but they don’t quite know how to deal with me anymore. I tend to avoid people these days. Especially my brother-in law. On my best days I dislike him, on my worst I loathe him.”

 

On hearing the mention of Stephan’s brother-in-law, Travis’ tail curled gently around Spencer’s leg. “Wow…so, what’s up with your brother-in-law?” he asked, considering mentioning his own relationship with his brother-in-law, but deciding against it. Didn’t want to feel like he was rubbing it in.

 

“Where do I start. He’s arrogant, dismissive, critical. He accused my sister of killing their child and tried to execute her. Those actions are to blame for the incomplete reversal of my curse.” Stephan curled his fingers into a fist. “Now I have to live in his castle, eat his food, and watch them pretend like none of it happened.”

 

“Damn…” Travis muttered. “Anything you can do about it? Like, within the confines of the law?”

 

“Not really. Being a Count, he is the law. And it would just upset my sister. Even after everything she still loves him. Why I cannot fathom.”

His tail twitching, Travis grumbled something. But then he looked back at Stephan. “Sorry to hear,” he said, letting out a breath. “What would you say is the best thing in your life right now?”

 

“Hmmm. Until this morning, I would have said nothing, but now… Now I have hope. The letter from Dr. Von Grimmelshausen saying there may be a fix for my arm… well that has given me hope.”

 

The half-monkey leaned in, fascinated by that. “Think it’d work out? Kinda hoping it does. I mean, that’s gotta throw you off, y’know? Um…okay, next question,” he said. “What would you do if you weren’t living in this situation?”

 

“That’s hard to say. I spent most of my youth as a swan, so I really had no dreams or thoughts of a vocation. But perhaps I would have joined the foresters, or become a hunter. I always loved the forest, even as a small child. And I would have needed some work, as my oldest brother would have inherited my father’s lands and title. But even that is gone. Father abandoned us in favour of our stepmother.”

 

Travis looked at him. “Well…here’s hoping things start looking up for you. So, what is it you tend to do around here? Like, as a way of keeping the family situation from driving you too crazy?”

 

Stephan’s eyes lit up. “I tinker with my motorized carriage. It is a most wonderful machine, three wheels, excellent steering control, and with the latest in steam engines. And I can drive it through the forest roads and visit with the charcoal burners. That’s where I get my fuel for the engine.”

 

“Ah, nice,” he replied. “I’ve only learned some of the basics of working with machines, myself. My mom’s really good with ‘em. So…last question: if you were to find out that there was a writer out there that was writing something about you, how would you take meeting them? Like, assuming they have some control over how your life was before you met them?”

 

“You mean if my dear brother-in-law let them past the gates? He hates artistic types. He thinks they will form dissent among the peasants. You’re lucky he’s away today. But I digress. Personally I have much admiration for writers, most I’ve met are delightful people. I should love to chat with them.”   

 

“He’s away for today? Welp…there goes my thought,” he sighed, having had thoughts of meeting with this brother-in-law and punching him. Right before having Spencer teleport the both of them to safety.

 

“Speaking of chatting with people, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Would you want a hug before we head off?”

 

“Thank you, but no. I’m not much of a hugger, and I’m moulting today. I’d most likely get feathers everywhere. Perhaps a handshake instead. It has been a wonderful visit.” Stephan held out his hand.

 

Travis went to shake his hand, Spencer standing up and pushing up his glasses. The half-monkey’s tail gave a slight twitch.

 

“I can kinda get how the moulting thing goes…only with shedding,” he said.

 

“It gets really fun when the shedded hair finds its way into the drains,” Spencer added, his tone flat as could be.

 

“Dude, I said I was sorry…”

 

Stephan smiled. “Just be glad it doesn’t get in the food. Last week I had feathers in my sausage.”

 

Travis chuckled slightly. “Sorry to hear…hope the moulting thing doesn’t last too long, and that you’re able to get an actual arm back before the next time it happens.”

 

“That would be an answer to my prayers. Well, aud wiedersehen, my new friend, and good luck in your endeavours as well.”

 

He nodded, as his tail curled around Spencer’s leg. The taller, slimmer man focused, casting a teleportation spell to get the two of them back home.

Anita also does character interviews, which you can find (among many other awesome things) on her blog !

 

Sorry I didn’t get this posted for a bit; got so wrapped up in comic pages that I sort of forgot. Anyhow, this one features Stephanie Barr’s characters Fiona and Zeris, both of whom are featured in her contribution to A Twist of Fate: A Collection of 11 Twisted Fairy Tales.

Somehow, Travis had a feeling that he’d look mildly out of place as he entered the inn. His tail twitched as he looked over the notepad. The half-monkey man saw the names of his two interviewees for this one: Fiona Fae Silvertongue and Zeris Hellspent. He held back a grin at the latter’s surname, as it reminded him of home.

Striding through the inn, he kept an eye out for the pair in question, soon noticing a pretty guy and a tiny lady.

“Hey!” he called, making his way over. “Would your names happen to be Fiona and Zeris, by any chance?”

The man rose with alacrity and sketched a bow that would not have shamed a diplomat. “It seems impossible that one could mistake my lady Fiona Fae Silvertongue for any. But, nay, you have not heard her sing, which explains your confusion.”

The lady, clad in boy’s simple garb shook her head. “He’s not a king’s envoy, you know. He’s not going to give me a heavier purse because you impress him.”

“Nonsense, my dear. One never knows and it’s always best to be prepared. Any chance acquaintance might lead to yet another venue that will add to your immeasurable glory. Another tale of adventure you can add to your vast repertoire.”

The hybrid blinked, before flashing the two a friendly grin. “So…I’m here to interview you two,” he said, his tail curling a bit. . “Like, if you’re up for it. And nah, I don’t think I know any kings or anything like that.”

Zeris clicked with his tongue and resumed his seat, but gestured across the table for the hybrid. “At least you appear to have had an interesting past yourself. Do let us talk among ourselves. Innkeeper, your best wine.”

“His best wine will likely taste no better than horse piss,” Fiona offered.

“Well, then, we’ll be in no danger of becoming inebriated.”

Travis chuckled a bit at the exchange, sitting down. “I’m not much of a drinker, myself. That’s more my girlfriend’s sort of thing. So, first question: how did you two meet? Just really curious about that one.”

“Ah,” said Zeris. “That is a tale. As a simple traveler, I had been accosted by loathsome miscreants. Unaware, that I was in danger, I resisted, only to find that they were slavers, intending to take me into custody and use me for infernal purposes. Fortunately, Fiona, and her misguided brother, happened upon me in my hour of need and, er, rescued me.”

“This is why you’re not a bard, for all your pretty talk. You left out your own part of it, disappearing with the turn of a ring, using lightning to take out those we couldn’t see.”

“Mere trifles. Hardly noticeable, with you taking out nearly a dozen of the ruffians with only your mythril dagger. Quite a sight, let me tell you.”

“I was there, too,” a tiny fairy said, buzzing above their heads.

“Indeed you were, you irksome insect, but you played your part by putting several into slumber. I hope I didn’t fail to express my gratitude,” Zeris said.

Travis had jumped slightly at the sound of the fairy’s voice, having honestly forgotten about the fact that said fairy was with them.  When he jumped, he’d let out a quick monkey-like screech. But he soon composed himself again. “Well, that’s one hell of a way to meet someone. Glad you’re safe now. Next one…is there anything that scares either of you?”

Zeris, in his shortest answer to date, said, “No.”

“I can be frightened. Not so much of things–I was trained by the Fairy Queen’s Captain of the Guard–but I don’t want to fail or go back to my brother’s farm a failure. It’s hard for women in this world.”

“You’re not afraid of failure, are you, Zeris?”

“Certainly not. I was trained by dragons. Once you’ve had dragons looking over your work, it’s hard for anything else to impress you.”

Travis blinked at Zeris’ response, unsure if he truly wasn’t afraid of anything. But he decided not to press the issue. Mainly because he mentioned being trained by dragons and he had no idea what sort of ass-kicking that might result in if things became antagonistic at all.

Nodding, he sighed. “Yeah, I know how the whole failure thing goes…Next up: If you guys weren’t doing what you are now, where could you see yourselves in life?”

“I am on a quest, said Zeris. “As I’ve been groomed to this question since birth, I cannot imagine what else I might be doing. Studying perhaps it teaching at an accent college perhaps.”

“I can imagine all too well, married off, if my brother or father had any say, to the apothecary’s assistant, raising brats in his spindly image.” She shuddered.

He cringed at that thought. “I can only imagine, there,” he said. “Glad you’ve managed to get your own life going.” He looked to Zeris next. “A quest, hm? What kind, if you don’t mind my asking?

“That is an excellent question, ” beamed Zeris. “The thing is, I have no idea. I’m hopeful the nature of the actual talk will be clarified in time.”

The half-monkey leaned back a bit, drumming his fingers on the table. “So, you weren’t really told about the kind of quest, just that you’re on one?”

Zeris nodded sagely. “Well, you see, I was destined for the Stone of Significance,” he said, gesturing at what looked like a wide but shallow silver block resting on the table. “Since it was mine, and it has a pivotal destiny, clearly I must fulfill it. Unfortunately, while it came with many contrivances of surpassing usefulness, it did not come with instructions.”

“Ah…yeah, that lack of instructions…always fun,” he remarked, somewhat drily. “Well, I hope it goes well for you, in that case. How much trouble have you two…erm, three run into so far?”

Zeris gestured handsomely to Fiona. “What would you say, Fiona?”

“Well, what was it, three kingdoms back, there was the king who thought to keep me caged like a songbird. It’s not that I couldn’t have escaped, but even I would be reluctant to take on a castle full of guards.”

“I could get that…not sure which sucks more; being caged, or being super-outnumbered by people that’re probably armed. So how’d you get out? Or is that part of the story you’re in? Because I can definitely understand not wanting to spoil anything for the readers,” he replied, basically ignoring the whole “Fourth Wall” concept.

“Well, I did get free, or I wouldn’t be here,” Fiona laughed, “but that is the story. And I have to keep the best stories and ballads for the paying customers.”

She sighed. “I wanted to do it all myself with Zeris helping me–he’s overprotective–but he does tend to wiggle his way in.”

“I am not overprotective,” Zeris said. “I just love to tinker. It’s an occupational hazard.”

“I can relate to the whole overprotective thing. I’ve been on both ends of that one,” he chuckled. “So, is there anything either of you regrets overall?”

Fiona sighed. “I wish my brother understood. He’s younger than I and was born to be a farmer. He wanted to stop me from leaving, even came with me in ill-fitting armor that nearly got him killed, but he never has become accustomed to my choices.”

Zeris looked wistful. “I regret not having instructions.”

“Also, the rabbit we had for dinner. That might have been cat after all.”

Travis’ tail curled around his leg a bit, thinking of a couple members of his family (who were both part-cat). “Well…what would you say is the best thing about your time together?” he asked.

Zeris smiled, “Fiona is a talented songstress, quite out of the common way, but she is an even better conversationalist. It is rare indeed to find a woman was intelligent and yet so self-assured.”

Fiona appeared genuinely touched. “Zeris is great company, too, but what I really enjoy most is his decimating someone uppity with his erudition. If you ever get a chance, don’t miss it. Hilarious.”

Travis smiled. “Always good to find someone you can get along with for this sort of mission…quest…thing. Seriously, I can’t imagine anything worse than going from one point to another with someone you really can’t stand. Like, willingly.” He tapped his lip piercing with the end of his pencil. “So, one last question. Once you’re done with this quest, what would you want to do next?”

“I can’t speak for Zeris, but I hope to do this for the rest of my life. It’s what I always wanted,” said Fiona, fighting her blush a bit.

“I have no idea what my quest might be, but I do know I should be loath to give up Lady Fiona’s company. I’m sure I’ll be able to find new quests that will allow me to accompany her until she finds my company tiresome.”

With a smile, Travis looked at both of them. “Here’s hoping you find more quests. Major ones, side quests, anything to keep you from having to settle down unless you seriously want to. And I can tell that that’s not likely to happen for a long time.” Travis moved to stand up. “Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me,” he said. “I should probably head off now, though. Hoping everything goes well for your quest!”

“Always a pleasure,” Zeris said. “I love talking about myself.” He took a sip of wine and grimace. “Well, talking to you was a pleasure. This wine, however, is an abomination. I shall be forced to do something.” He reached into a pouch on his belt and pulled out a tiny vial, then sprinkled it into his goblet. He sipped again. “Ah, that’s nearly palatable.”

“I’m not going to help you if you wake up with a hangover,” Fiona told him, leaving her wine untouched. “It was a pleasure meeting you. I hope we see you again on our adventures.”

“Me too, me too,” said the little fairy, zipping around overhead

With a chuckle, Travis brushed some of his long red hair behind an ear. “If it does happen, I have a feeling my crappy luck would’ve kicked in, and I’d probably thank you for the help in advance. But for now, thanks again for the interview!” He soon turned and started heading out of the inn.

 

You can find more about Stephanie’s work on Facebook!

Character Interview- First Pea

Posted: December 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

The first of the anthology interviews! First up is a character from Nanea Knott’s contribution to the book (which I look forward to reading soon; the official release date is January 2nd, and all proceeds go to the Global Scoliosis Fund. Feel free to add it to your Want-To-Read list on Goodreads!).

“First Pea…” Travis muttered to himself as he looked at the list. The monkey/human hybrid made his way into the castle, a tall, slim, and rather exhausted young man with glasses in tow. He’d teleported the two there, but was still getting used to trips of that range.

“Need a break, Spence?”

“Yeah.”

“Alright, fair enough.”

The two were heading for the castle’s receiving area, Travis thinking over what sorts of questions he might ask. He did sort of wonder about what kind of royal title “Pea” was, but would get to that soon. He had his long hair pulled back and–astonishingly enough–had remembered to wear a shirt this time.  

“Is there a ‘First Pea’ around here?” he called as he entered and looked around, his tail twitching a little.

A grizzled man named Douglas stood in the receiving area waiting for the stranger to arrive. He had been instructed by First Pea to bring him and his companion to the sitting room for The Royal Peas where First Pea would receive them there. Douglas tried to smooth his hair and straighten his shirt and dust off his pants. First Pea had told him to expect a man who would be half-monkey, but Douglas had no idea what that was. He would look for two men who looked out of place and he would bring them to First Pea.

Douglas saw a flash of light and there stood two men, one with glasses, another with a tail. These must be the visitors. He approached them with what he hoped was a friendly smile while trying to ignore the strangers curling tail. He wondered if the man spoke a common language. Douglas was relieved to hear him ask for First Pea. “Yes, First Pea is here and if you would follow me, I can take you to him.”

The two followed him. Travis considered asking Douglas why they called First Pea “First Pea”, but figured that might be best asked directly. “Thanks for the escort,” Travis told him, giving a friendly smile of his own.

Douglas took them to the sitting room. First Pea was sitting on his red velvet cushion. The one used for impressing honored guests. “Welcome, Mr. Malone,” greeted First Pea. “I hope your journey here was pleasant. Please make yourself comfortable. Your friend may join us or perhaps our library would be more to his liking, Douglas can show him the way.”

Travis looked around for a moment. And then he realized that the voice was coming from an actual pea, his large green eyes becoming somewhat larger.

“…Pea’s not just a unique title, is it…?” he murmured, sitting down.

“Might be a good idea for me to stay with him,” Spencer replied.

After taking a few breaths, Travis spoke up again. “SO, first off, thanks for taking the time to talk to me.”

First Pea was a little concerned over the hungry look Mr. Malone was giving him, but Douglas was nearby assuring his safety.  “Mr. Malone, you are very welcome and we are pleased for your visit. I am indeed a vegetable. I am but one part of The Royal Peas.” First Pea rolled forward a little on his cushion. “We were given a prestigious task by our queen of helping her to find a suitable princess for our prince. We were successful. There are five of us, of which I am the largest and thus designated as First Pea.”

And Spencer was there to make sure Travis didn’t cause any sort of incident with The Kingdom. “I see… How is it you all ended up with that task? Is it a tradition around here?” the half-monkey asked, head tilting to the side.

First Pea was a little hesitant to answer. It was not widely known that they were given the task by the Queen to discourage the process of princess selection. “The Queen wanted to ensure that only the best and brightest princess would be able to spend time with our prince. My siblings and I were to be the final test of the worthiness of any candidate. That is, providing they past the other tests of the Queen’s choosing. It was not a tradition of The Kingdom for determining our future monarchs.”

Now quite curious, Travis leaned in a little more. But not too far; Spencer had created a barrier between him and First Pea for safety reasons. “How is it you do that?” he asked. “Or would you rather not say?”

First Pea was a little disturbed by the look of eagerness on Mr. Malone’s face and grateful for the barrier put up by his magical friend.  “The Queen’s thought was that a worthy woman of royal blood would be unable to sleep on anything except a bed of exceptional comfort. She wouldn’t be able to sleep on a lumpy mattress.” First Pea was reluctant to say that there were several mattresses, but it had already become public knowledge. “The mattresses were stacked high and one my siblings was to be smuggled beneath the bottom mattress. The thought being that if the princess were worthy, she wouldn’t be able to sleep for the lump in the bed created by us.”

Writing this down, Travis thought about his next question. “So when you’re not involved in the whole princess selection thing, what do you tend to do? Like, any hobbies at all?” he asked.

First Pea rolled back on his cushion. He was so enjoying this. “My siblings and I have many interests. We are taken outside to enjoy the weather, we float in a bowl of water at least once a day to keep us from drying out and the Prince often comes to read to us. My brother Fifth is becoming quite the scholar. Princess Viola, our chosen Princess, comes to speak to my sisters Second and Fourth regarding the latest gossip and fashion in the kingdom. My brother Third enjoys watching our soldiers training. I enjoy the quiet myself. While the Princess Tests were going on, it was quite noisy listening to all princesses grunt from exertion in the courtyard below, poor dears.”

Tapping his pencil on the notepad, Travis thought over the next one. “So…sorry if this is, y’know, a weird question or anything, but what would you say is the most challenging thing about being, well, a pea?”

Looking at Mr. Malone’s hungry stare, First Pea replied, “Possibly being eaten. It is a logical fear of ours that one day we will end up in,” First Pea almost couldn’t say it. “soup. Although the Queen has assured us that would never happen, we know it is always a possibility.”

He nodded, understanding. “Yeah, I can get that. Sorry if I’ve been creeping you out at all, by the way. Seriously not my intention! It’s just that I kinda haven’t eaten for a bit. I have a feeling that it’s probably your worst fear, too, so I’m probably not going to ask that one. But how about regrets? What would you say is your biggest one?”

First Pea rolled to the side a little contemplating the question.  There was a regret that he and his siblings had discussed at length. “The biggest regret is that we were witness to some of the tests assigned by the Queen and unable to do anything about it. Some of the tasks were cringe worthy and despite our exalted position. We are only peas. We wished we could have done more.”

“Now, when you say cringe-worthy…just how bad are we talkin’, here?” he asked.

“The tests were designed to ‘challenge’ the contestants, although some would say ‘eliminate’ was a better word. The Queen had spies in the castle tell her the weaknesses of the princesses. She made one poor portly princess attempt to climb a vertical rope to retrieve an egg at the top. The poor girl ran from the castle with yolk in her hair. Another princess, rail thin, was to retrieve a heavy iron ring from the bottom of the moat. Poor thing probably gain a few pounds from all the water she swallowed.” First Pea cleared his throat. “The Queen was a brutal task master. The most dreaded was climbing a greased pole to retrieve a teacup. So many were broken we had to requisition more.”

“Wow…” he replied. “So, is the Queen just that particular about who her son marries?”

First Pea was hesitant to the tell the truth. He had no wish to cast his Queen in an unfavorable light, however, it had all turned out for the best. “The Queen’s original plan was for the Prince never to marry. She wanted to continue to be Queen until it was no longer possible. We Peas were tasked with assisting her. In the end, we saw how much our prince and Princess Viola were well matched and we did what was necessary to encourage the match.

“Ah. Some resistance to change…I can get that. Now, one more question before I go: If you weren’t given the task that you’d been given, what would you want to do in life? Like, if your being a pea weren’t a factor at all?” he asked, tapping the pencil on his notepad again.

First Pea considered the question. It was something he had never been asked before. “If I were born a human instead of a pea, I think I would like to have liked to be a gardener. I would enjoy walking. I already have an appreciation for flowers, trees and all things growing. I would enjoy eating the fruits of my labor, but it goes without saying, I would never eat peas.”

He nodded. “Thanks again for taking the time out for this interview. Was nice to eat–MEET! I mean MEET you!” He stood up, blushing a little at that particular slip of the tongue. And then he looked at Douglas. “…Please note that I have absolutely no intention of hurting anyone here,” he said, tail curling around Spencer’s leg.

First Pea shifted nervously on his cushion. His words left him in a rush. “Yes…well…Thank you for coming Mr. Malone, Mr. Spencer, thank the heavens for you. Douglas will see you out.”

Spencer got up with Travis, nodding to First Pea. And the two of them were ready to follow Douglas’ lead out of there.

Douglas escorted them back to the receiving area of the castle. “Mr. Malone, Mr. Spencer. It’s been an honor. Thank you for you time and for not eating First Pea. We would be distraught without him.” Douglas waved goodbye and watched the strangers disappear in a flash of light and a audible pop.

And you can follow Nanea Knott on Facebook or her website. Another interview will be here tomorrow!

I would have posted this yesterday, but I honestly didn’t get around to it (or shading/highlights for book 6, for that matter). Hope everyone that celebrates it had a good Christmas (and that those who don’t had a good day, period).

Anyway, today’s interview is with Assaph Mehr’s detective character Felix the Fox.

Well, this was a new experience for Travis, in terms of interview venues. He’d had to ask Spencer to teleport him to a civilization that was around WAY before either of them were conceived, and the city itself was built into the side of a volcano. They’d come close to the top of it, and it took all both of them had not to make some comment about tossing a cursed ring into it…

 

No, they were at the top of this thing for the sake of an interview, and Travis honestly hoped he wouldn’t be too irked about the climb. Spencer would sit in on this one, partly to keep Travis out of trouble, and partly to rest from the teleportation spell. They’d have met him in the city itself, but they would have stood out a bit too much, what with Spencer’s glasses, Travis’ tail and feet with opposable toes, and the fact that both of them were wearing pants and made absolutely no effort to disguise the fact that they were not, in fact, of that time period or location. The main thing keeping either of them from checking their phones was that they were already set to be bizarre enough as it was.

 

After a while, the two could see a figure making their way up to their location, Travis trying to get a good look.

 

“I think that’s him…” he murmured, tail twitching a bit.

 

Pushing some of his immensely-long hair back, he watched as the figure got there.

 

“Hey!” he called. “You Felix, by any chance? My name’s Travis, the skinny dude with me is Spencer…I think we might’ve spoken, like, once before?”

 

Salvete,” said the man. “If I wasn’t warned about your appearance, I would be running very fast back down the mountain.” The man, Felix, was in his thirties, with dark wavy hair and dark eyes. He was wearing a light tunic, sweating from the effort of climbing the mountain in the summer’s heat.

 

“My scribe told me you would like to interview me, prior to the publication of the next scroll of my adventure on his world.”

 

Travis nodded. “Yeah, if you’re up for it…”

 

“Would he have made his way up here if he weren’t?” Spencer asked.

 

“…Point made. Anyway, first question…” the half-monkey began, tapping his fingers on his upper arm. “What made you want to become a detective?”

 

“It seemed like a good career option at the time. Better than a gladiator or a beggar, that’s for sure,” said Felix. “I was accepted to the Collegium Incantatorum, but couldn’t complete my studies due to lack of money. I tried the legion, and found out I was not soldier material. Then, quite by accident — actually, funny story this, but maybe later — I ran into two famous detectives. I apprenticed with them, and then started my own business, specialising in the, shall we say, occult cases. Bringing all my experience to bear, as it were.”

 

“So, like, you were originally looking to study magic?” the half-monkey asked. “How do spells and incantations and all that work here? I’ve seen it in action back where Spence and I are from, but…hey, Spence, would you say it varies?”

 

Pushing up his glasses, Spencer nodded. “Depending on location and era in history, I would think so.”

 

And since he was curious about this, himself, Spencer pulled out a notepad and pen. He wanted to have this knowledge somewhere, after all.

 

“As I understand it, the world of my scribe Assaph doesn’t have the magia floating through it. Here we do. It’s everywhere. Philosophers argue about its origins, but we learnt to manipulate it. It is one of the colleges that make our city great. We teach philosophy, engineering, art, magic. We have the great library and teaching colleges in the world.”

“So…about your scribe. He one of those sadistic ones you find out there?” Travis asked. “Because if so, I totally get that. Got one myself…I guess the main question here would be, if you were to meet your author–erm, scribe–face to face, what would you say to him first?”

 

“Where’s my money? The mentula promised me payments and royalties for my memoirs, but hasn’t paid a rotten sestertius yet!”

 

The half-monkey cringed at that. “I DEFINITELY get that,” he said. “Tried asking mine that once…and that’s how I learned how long it takes me to heal from a hacked-off limb. That was a nasty few days…Umm…ANYWAY, uh..what is it you tend to do in your spare time?”

 

“Oh,the usual. Watch the chariot races at the circus, or the occasional gladiatorial fight. Share a cup of wine with old army buddies. Go to the Forum to pick up on the latest gossip and court cases, and maybe pick up a new client. I read too, in quiet evenings.”

 

Travis’ tail flicked, as he looked at Spencer, who would explain the difference between this era’s type of circus and the type Travis looked like he’d escaped from later. Tail twitching, the half-monkey thought on his next question.

 

“What would you say has been the most dangerous job you’ve had so far?” he asked.

 

“In my latest case I was nearly mummified alive, or close enough to it. A rather deranged incantator decided to explore the boundaries between life and death, and I happened to be a handy test subject. I very narrowly escaped that fate.”

 

Both Travis and Spencer cringed at that. “Dude…I’ve been a test subject way too often, myself,” Travis said. “Glad you were able to get out of that… Next one, next one…is there anything you regret in life?”


“Too many things to mention here. Learnt to go on, though, and look forward rather than be haunted by the past.”

 

“Good way to go about it,” Travis replied.

 

“The only way. Besides, my scribe says my past will be published at a later volume, to keep the fans engaged. If only that translated into sales…”

 

“Oh, I definitely hear that,” he said with a slight chuckle. “So…is there anything that scares you?”

 

“Plenty of things. Fear is a rational response to danger. It’s what you do about it that counts. And that’s usually what my clients hire me for — faced with circumstances beyond their ken, they come to me to resolve them. Well, that, plus usually they want it done on the hush, away from the official authorities.”

 

“So…y’know, running in without hesitation is probably not the right response to danger,” Spencer said, looking right at Travis.

 

“Healing factor, dude. Alrighty, one last question…” Travis said, tail twitching again. “Do you have any advice for the readers?”

 

“Advice? To readers? Hmm… Study hard and avoid the funny mushrooms? Appreciate scribes, and pay them well for their scrolls? Don’t piss against the wind? Never practice magic when you’re drunk? Really, it all depends on the circumstances… Maybe the one my father used to say, ‘never leave a pretty woman spitting at your back’ would serve them well.”

 

He wrote this down in the notepad Spencer was using, pausing to shiver at Spencer’s handwriting.

 

“Thanks for meeting with us,” he said, flashing a grin.

 

“It was my pleasure. Valete et curate!

 

Travis and Spencer could Felix mumbling to himself, as he turned to walk down the mountain. Something about “All this hiking up and down for hours better work, or that cacator is never getting me to another interview.”

You can read more about Felix in “Murder In Absentia”.

MurderInAbsentiaCover.png

Book Blurb

A young man is found dead in his bed, with a look of extreme agony on his face and strange tattoos all over his body. His distraught senator father suspects foul play, and knows who to call on.

 

Enter Felix the Fox, a professional investigator. In the business of ferreting out dark information for his clients, Felix is neither a traditional detective nor a traditional magician – but something in between. Drawing on his experience of dealing with the shady elements of society and his aborted education in the magical arts, Felix dons his toga and sets out to discover the young man’s killers.

 

Murder in absentia is set in a fantasy world. The city of Egretia borrows elements from a thousand years of ancient Roman culture, from the founding of Rome to the late empire, mixed with a judicious amount of magic. This is a story of a cynical, hardboiled detective dealing with anything from daily life to the old forces roaming the world.

 

This is a story of Togas, Daggers and Magic – for lovers of Murder Mysteries, Ancient Rome and Urban Fantasy.

Extra Short Blurb

A senator’s son is found dead, in what looks like a cult ritual murder. His father wants to have a resolution, but at the same time to keep it away from the public eye. Enter Felix the Fox: neither a traditional detective nor a competent magician – but something in between.

This is a story of Togas, Daggers and Magic – for lovers of Murder Mysteries, Ancient Rome and Urban Fantasy.

 

“Hardcore Historical Fantasy – Felix the Fox is Sherlock Holmes in Ancient Times”
— Jonathan Maas, author of City of Gods – Hellenica

“Mehr’s imagined world based on ancient Rome feels at once familiar and dreamlike.”

— Ruth Downie, author of the Medicus series of Roman mysteries
“Mehr is a master alchemist, blending the real and surreal on a captivating flight of fantasy.”
— Cynthia Celmer

 

 

Top Reviews

“Hardcore Historical Fantasy – Felix the Fox is Sherlock Holmes in Ancient Times”

— Jonathan Maas, author of City of Gods – Hellenica

 

“Mehr’s imagined world based on ancient Rome feels at once familiar and dreamlike. In Egretia, magic is real and potentially deadly. While rival incantatores have been banned from calling up competing winds to speed ferries across the bay – they’ve drowned too many innocent sailors – the powers of magic appear to have fallen into malevolent hands. Failed incantator Felix the Fox is investigating a mysterious death in a growing atmosphere of menace. I can’t help thinking the idea of Death by Magic might be closer to the mindset of some of the ancient world than our modern rationality.”

— Ruth Downie, Author of the Medicus Roman mysteries series

 

“Mehr is a master alchemist, blending the real and surreal on a captivating flight of fantasy.”

— Cynthia Celmer

 

“This book gave me a ‘book-hangover’ – I could not get my head out of the world of Felix for days after finishing it! I hope that there will be more stories coming, of Felix’s past and future. I like authors that create real human characters”

— R.M., Israel

 

“Finished Murder In Absentia twice now. A truly remarkable story which draws you in and makes it so you never want to leave.”

— Fuchsia Carter, UK

 

“For a history buff like me, it was the perfect blend of historical trivia and good old-fashioned murder mystery. A sheer delight to read.”

— W. Klijn., Australia

 

Awards

Virtual FantasyCon 2016

  • 1st place – Favourite Dark Fantasy Book
  • 1st place – Favourite Dark Fantasy Author
  • 2nd place – Favourite Urban Fantasy Book
  • 2nd place – Favourite Urban Fantasy Author
  • 3rd place – Favourite Fantasy Series

Goodreads

1st place – Indie Books Worth The Read (https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/37072.Self_Pub_or_Indie_Books_Worth_the_Read)

Author Bio

AssaphAuthorPic.png

Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy – he whinged horribly when they dragged him to “yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling”, yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art.

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin.

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and – this being Australia – assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he’s writing – he seems to do his best writing after midnight.

Alternative Bio

Assaph has had his nose in a book since he was five, and had to yell at the librarian that he can read already so he should get his own card. With a rather diverse taste in reading – from fantasy to philosophy, from ancient times to the far future – his first novel Murder In Absentia is an “historically-themed urban high-fantasy hardboiled murder mystery, with just a dash of horror”.

 

After years of reading and only dreaming of seeing his name in print, he suddenly started writing in 2015. He owes this to his wife, who complained that there was nothing good left to read. Once the challenge was accepted and Murder In Absentia was born, Assaph just kept on writing – short stories, flash fiction, and now a second full length novel. You can find them all on egretia.com.

 

When he’s not busy mashing up genres or interviewing other author’s characters on TheProtagonistSpeaks.com, this ex-Israeli-turned-Aussie enjoys – in no particular order – his kids, cats, wife and even his day job. He hopes that his thirty years of martial arts make his fight scenes realistic, and that his love of history shines through his work.

Super-short bio

Assaph has had his nose in a book since he was five, so it wasn’t surprising that he turned to writing. All those years reading on ancient Rome, sci-fi, fantasy, and mysteries while practicing various martial arts, travelling the world, and working odd jobs lead to some interesting combinations in his stories.

Media links

Website: http://egretia.com

Author Blog: http://egretia.com/news

Character Interview Blog: http://TheProtagonistSpeaks.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/AssaphMehrAuthor

Twitter: @assaphmehr

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/assaph/

Google Plus: http://plus.google.com/+AssaphMehr

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14422472.Assaph_Mehr

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/assaphmehr

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Assaph-Mehr/e/B015U1F3NC

Murder In Absentia on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1XbfKN1

From the Author

Murder In Absentia is the story I always wanted to read. I have been in love with ancient history, and in particular Rome, since I first laid eyes on Asterix. Growing up in Israel, a country steeped in millennia of human history, and playing D&D just helped cement that love.

As a kid, I was a voracious reader. I borrowed my sister’s library card when the librarian said I was too young for the Sci-Fi & Fantasy section. I grew up on all the classics, reading and rereading them as I matured. Along with sci-fi and fantasy, I loved mysteries and thrillers – Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Alistair MacLean to name just a few.

So when it came time to write, I had it all in my head – all jumbled together. I sub-titled Murder In Absentia as “a story of Togas, Daggers, and Magic”, as it draws elements of ancient Rome, Fantasy and Mystery. It’s also a bit shorter than “an historically-themed urban high-fantasy noir detective mystery (with a splash of horror)”.

If you like any two out of the three (Rome, Fantasy, and Mystery), give Murder In Absentia a shot. I trust you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

Videas Lumen!

Assaph

Hey, all. A Merry Christmas Eve, first and foremost. Secondly, I’ll be rolling out a bunch of interviews starting today, starting with this first one. Then another tomorrow, and on Tuesday, I’ll go with the ones related to “A Twist of Fate: A Collection of 11 Twisted Fairy Tales” (set for release on January 2nd!). I’ve also been hard at work on book 6, which should be out this coming week.

Now without any further ado…

As he approaches his destination, the half-monkey pulls out his notepad and looks to the list. The destination is Rainbow Tower, and he knows that this interview is going to be a different one for him. Usually, Travis is used to one interviewee. Possibly two. But this time, there’s a list. And he realizes that one of the names on that list is familiar to him. His tail twitches a little, as he wonders just how Luke Callindor is holding up after what’d happened between their last meeting and now.

 

But first off, he needs to find the tower in question. He finds the outer wall first, and considers scaling that. But then he considers that the place is a hotbed for magic users, and he’s seen first hand what can happen when one pisses off someone that uses magic. So he starts looking for the entrance, tail twitching a bit once he finally finds it.

 

It doesn’t take him long to find that the door is open, and he steps inside, walking on his knuckles for the time being.

 

Once inside, Trav finds himself taking in the sight of the garden. A lot of love has clearly gone into it overall, from what he can see. But he’s here on a mission: he’s got some Champions to chat with.

 

He starts looking around the garden for them, knowing that two are half-elves, one has blue hair, one would send his muscle-phobic brother-in-law into conniptions, one is probably armored, and the last would have silver hair.

 

After a while, he eventually locates the group resting around one of the ponds.  The white iron benches are pristine as if they have recently been placed in the garden.

 

“Hey, all. So, thanks for agreeing to meet with me,” says Travis. “Especially with the major showdown and all coming up. I mean, this has to be stressful…No matter what, I’m hoping for the best for all of you. Alrighty, so, Luke…I remember the last time we met, and it was just before you went into a…let’s face it, a goddamn nightmare of a situation. How’re you holding up?”

 

Shivering even though there is no breeze, Luke can only stare blankly at the half-monkey.  His eyes blink out of synch and he appears on the verge of a breakdown until Sari casts a relaxation spell on him.

 

“Okay, one more for you; probably doing two questions for each of ya, come to think of it. Don’t wanna take up too much of your time. So…you looking forward to the fact that your conflict with the Baron’s coming to an end, at least? Okay, so that could apply to all of you, sure. Especially Dariana; I’ll be getting to you soon enough. But given that you personally suffered at his hands, I figured I’d ask you first.”

 

“I . . . I really just want this to end,” Luke mutters, his face devoid of emotion.

 

“I can imagine…” he replies, tail curling around his leg as he starts thinking of the nightmare that had to be Luke’s post-torture mindscape.

 

Travis clears his throat and turns his attention toward Nyx. “I’ve heard about you,” he says. “Mainly the fact that you’re, like, insanely powerful and not to be messed with. Anyway, my first question for you…What’s your favorite spell? Like, overall?”

 

“That’s always a tough one,” Nyx replies, the half-elf coiling a black hair around her finger. “I can’t pick a specific spell, but I tend to use fire more than anything else.  There’s always been an affinity for me, which might come from my home village burning down.  It’s one of my earliest memories, so maybe I find that to be the most destructive.”

 

“And if there were anything in your life that you could do differently, what might it be? What would you change about it?” he asks, scribbling the responses thus far down on his notepad.

 

The channeler rubs her amethyst necklace before saying, “I guess I would keep my temper in check more often.  This is more for when I was younger and that would get me into trouble.  With my level of magic, I always needed more self-control, so it’s fairly problematic when I let my anger get the best of me.  Beyond that, I can’t think of anything since that would mean I’d be a different person than I am now.  Possibly even one too weak to face the Baron.”

 

Travis nods slightly, understanding. Looking to Sari, the half-monkey smiles slightly. He taps the notepad with his pencil, tail twitching. “So, Sari…First off, I just wanna say that I’m sorry to hear about, well, everything that’s gone wrong for your love life, and your life in general, and hope for the best for you. Second, is there anything specific that scares you? If so, and if it’s not gonna drag you on a horrible trip down memory lane, what?”

 

“Thanks for the concern, but I’ve been fine-ish for a while,” the gypsy states with a smirk.  “Nothing really specific scares me.  I’ve had to push through a lot of pain and terrible situations, so I try to take the world as it comes.  I mean, there are a few lingering abandonment issues that crop up from time to time.  That’s to be expected considering how many people I’ve lost, but I have my friends to see me through it.”

 

“Second question: What would be your biggest hope for the future? Like, post-Baron?”

 

“That another Baron doesn’t show up for a while.  Windemere could really use a break from all these ancient evils and ambitious bastards that tend to pop up.”

 

He then looks to Timoran, thinking over his questions for him carefully. Travis is certain that the barbarian is more even-tempered than he is likely to throttle him, at least. But he’d still want to avoid annoying him, anyway, as he hasn’t done anything to him to deserve it.

 

“Alright, Timoran…” he says. “From what I hear, alcohol is a huge deal in your culture…come to think of it, my girlfriend would probably love that. ANYWAY, what would you say is your favorite kind of alcohol overall? Okay, so that’s one that the girlfriend I mentioned threw in, and she probably would’ve come with me if she didn’t have to go out on a job…”

 

Timoran chuckles before taking a flask from his belt and offering it to the interviewer.  “My favorite drink is called Ifrit Mead.  It is both sweet and has a fiery kick.  The aftertaste is what gets most people, but it is a fairly common choice among my tribe.  There are stronger ones out there, but this one is also easier to find outside of our lands.”

 

Travis politely takes a step back, not being much of a drinker, himself.

 

“Sounds like one she’d be interested in. I don’t tend to drink a lot, myself, but that’s for personal reasons… Alright, next question’s from me,” Travis puts in, clearing his throat. “What are your thoughts on some of the others?”

 

“They are my friends, so I trust them completely,” the barbarian admits without hesitation.  “I cannot think of singling anyone out for good or bad traits since we each have them.  With all of our adventures and battles together, I have found that they are more my family than friends.  I could go on at length about each one, but I feel that may take too long.”

 

“Delvin, you’re next,” the half-monkey says, looking at his questions. “If you weren’t a mercenary, like, at any point in life, what could you see yourself doing?”

 

“Well, I was still trained as a warrior, so my job or whatever would still revolve around that,” Delvin answers while pouring himself a cup of coffee.  The liquid flows from the ring on his finger, which remains untouched by the steaming brew.  “Most likely, I’d have ended up as a soldier for a few years to get some experience.  Once I had proven myself, I’d return to Hamilton Military Academy to become one of Selenia’s instructors.  That’s a fairly low risk path, which wouldn’t have sat well with her.  She had big expectations for me, so I’d have to become a General or some type of legend.”

 

“Now, as a merc, what would you say was your most memorable mission?

 

Leaning back on the bench, Delvin closes his eyes to think over his impressive career.  “There was one that involved rescuing the children of a noble.  It was four princes and a princess, so I came up with a plan that my friends and I impersonate them after breaking into the kidnappers’ hideout.  It didn’t work out too well because Tavris was too muscular to be any of the boys and I tore my dress while pretending to be the princess.  We still got out with them, but that story spread through Fort Journeyman really quickly.  Took about a year to get over that debacle and be taken seriously again.  It really seems to be the plans that go wrong that I remember more than the perfect ones.”

 

Finally, he brings his attention to Dariana. “Before I ask you anything,” he says. “I just want to say that I’m REALLY sorry about who your dad is. And your brothers. Especially the older one. Just…holy shit. Hope you get through this okay… ANYWAY, the first question I have for you is about immortality…is it as lonely as I keep thinking it’ll be? I know, probably kind of a weird question for an interview, but it’s something I’ve been curious about for a while. Like, to the point of losing sleep, y’know?”

 

“Thank you for the apologies, but I don’t understand. I had no choice in my family,” the telepath says in confusion. She licks her lips and gets to her feet before pacing. “I’m sorry, but I don’t really have a good answer for you.  I spent most of my immortal life under a sleeping spell, which could last from twenty to one-hundred years.  I would be woken up, spend time with those who hate me, and be put back under when those champions failed.  So, I couldn’t say if my loneliness stems from being immortal alone or if it’s because I was never given a chance to make friends until recently.  The gods and goddesses of Windemere have each other, so they don’t get lonely.  My father had his agents and the demons of the Chaos Void.  I think immortality could be lonely if one doesn’t put effort into making connections.”

 

Nodding slightly, Travis takes that into consideration. He doesn’t get into why that particular question would concern him, though.

 

“And last individual question…what makes you happiest in life? Figure that might be a good antidote to the last question… I hate seeing people with family issues. The more hardcore, the worse it is, and I just wanna see these people happy, y’know?”

 

Dariana opens and closes her mouth several times, the answer rapidly changing in her mind.  “Happiness is actually a fairly new emotion for me to have.  I’m sorry that sounds so horrible, but it’s the truth.  Being with my friends makes me happy as well as interacting with the world.  I can eat foods I’ve only heard of, listen to music I’ve only caught in the minds of travelers, and live an actual life.  Even if it’s only for a moment, I can be happy and feel like I have a place in the world.”

 

Taking a couple of breaths, Travis looks over the notepad once more.

 

“Got one last one for all of you…In the event that this doesn’t go well for any of you…is there anything you’d like to get off your chest to the others? Or to anyone that might be reading this interview?”

 

Silence falls over the champions until Delvin raises his hand. “I don’t think any of us can think of any grievances.  We’ve put our affairs in order before heading out.  With what’s on the horizon, none of us really want to think about the smaller things.  They don’t seem important since none of us know if we’ll be getting out of this alive. I mean, this is an enemy that terrifies the gods.  Needless to say, having the last line of defense be five mortals and one immortal really doesn’t do much for the nerves.”

 

“Alright,” says Travis. “Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Before I go…anyone up for a hug?”

 

“I’m always up for that,” Sari states with a beaming smile.

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Author Bio & Social Media

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

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Catch the rest of the LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE on Amazon!

And of course, we have the newest entry (which I’m in the process of reading now…definitely recommend the full series): Warlord of the Forgotten Age

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All cover art by the awesome and talented Jason Pedersen

 

Character Interview: Miri Katz

Posted: December 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

Hey! Welcome to the first in a number of character interviews this month. To celebrate the release of Londonium, book 4 of the P.A.W.S. series, Travis got the opportunity to speak with with the main character herself.

The redhead had gotten a few odd looks as he approached a cafe in Jerusalem. He’d never been to the area before (and had hitched a ride with his girlfriend, her sister, and his aunt; they had a target in the region). As for Travis, he had an interview to conduct.

 

He remembered the first of these he’d done, with one particular member of P.A.W.S. And now he was looking to speak with Miri. Though he hoped that he hadn’t chosen a bad time for this. Ah, well. The half-monkey would worry about that later, as he looked around for the girl in question. He wasn’t sure if she’d be in human form or feline, but was ready to ask her some questions either way.

 

The half-monkey scanned the area for a bit, before eventually finding someone that seemed to fit the description of his interviewee for today. His tail twitched as he approached.

 

“Hey. Miri Katz, right?” he asked.

 

“Yep, that’s me,” said Miri nodding to Travis. “Why don’t you sit down?”

 

He sat down across from her, moving his hair aside to keep from sitting on it.

 

“So first off, thanks for agreeing to take the time to talk to me. Name’s Travis, and I just wanted to ask you a few things.”

 

“Sure, go ahead. Happy to answer your questions if I can.” She smiled at Travis.

 

“Okay, so, right off the bat…how did you become a shifter? Like, if you don’t mind my asking,” he asked.

 

Miri took a deep breath. “Well, it started when my Omama gave me this silver cat charm the night before she died. I didn’t know at the time but it contained magic that had originally saved her from the Nazis. Her mother had passed it on to her just as the family was being taken from their home in Vienna and that’s when my Omama first turned feline.

“I didn’t become a cat shifter until a few years after I got the charm from my Omama. After she’d died I was sent to this fancy boarding school by my aunt and uncle and the kids there bullied me. One day they chased me up into a tree and it was then that I first changed into my cat form. Later I met Josh (here’s a werewolf and my friend) and he took me to P.A.W.S.”

 

Nodding somewhat, he moved on to the next one. “What do you like to do in your downtime?”

 

“I love to read and write, especially fantasy. Writing down stuff helps me think and sort out all the weirdness that goes on around me. And believe me there’s a lot of weirdness.”

 

“Okay, so, I know you’ve made a lot of friends since you joined P.A.W.S.” He paused. “Wow…that probably made me sound like a creeper. Sorry about that. But anyway… Who are some of your closest?”

 

“Well, back at P.A.W.S. as I mentioned there’s Josh (he was my first friend who brought me to P.A.W.S.), then there are Sandy and Sean from Texas – they’re shapeshifter horses and then there’s Joey, the kangaroo animagus from Australia. I kind of miss them at the moment. Oh and I miss Danny too …” Miri sighed and looked away collecting her thoughts. “He’s my boyfriend, an animagus cat like me. I hope I get to see him again soon.”

 

The monkey-man tapped his pencil on the table. “Next, next…AH, right. So, what can you tell anyone reading this about the next adventure you’re involved in?”

 

“Well I hear the next book’s called “Londinium” and I get to visit the P.A.W.S. Institute in London. I’ve always wanted to visit London. I hope get to see some of the sights.”

 

Travis listened, his tail twitching a bit. “Wow. Hope that works out for you! Next up: what are your goals for the future? Like, aside from what’s already come up in response to the last one.”

 

“Well, I want to go back to St. Louis and see all my friends at P.A.W.S. and I suppose I should finish my studies too with Professor Ainsworth (he’s an animagus owl). When I’m done I’d like to travel. Danny has said that maybe we can go together. I’d love to visit the other P.A.W.S. Institutes dotted around the globe. I hear in the P.A.W.S. Institute in Africa there’s a magician who can turn himself into an elephant. That must be amazing to see.”

 

“So, let’s go with this one: is there anything you regret? Like, anything you would redo in a freaking heartbeat if you could?” he asked.

 

Miri paused and looked down into her lap. When she looked up again, Travis could see traces of tears in the corners of her eyes. “I wish I’d got to say goodbye to Jenny. She was my best friend as a kid in the Lower East Side in New York. When my aunt Cynthia took me away from there after my Omama died she didn’t allow me to say goodbye to my friend. She also sent our cats, Kitty and Susie out onto the street. I wish I knew what happened to them.”

 

He nodded somewhat. “Damn, that’s rough… Hope you’re able to get some closure eventually. Now for my next question…what is your favorite thing about being a shifter?”

 

“As a cat shifter I can blend in really well with my surroundings. No one really notices cats – especially here in Jerusalem.”

 

“Last one, I promise…do you have any advice for anyone reading this?” Travis asked, his head tilting somewhat.

 

“Appreciate what you’ve got. You never know when it will be pulled away from you.”

 

The half-monkey stood up once the interview was done, offering Miri a hug. Miri returned the hug. His tail twitched slightly and he stepped back after a bit.

 

“Thanks for agreeing to meet with me, Miri. Hope this all goes well for you, and next time you’re in St. Louis, can you tell Ian I said hi?” he said. “Thanks again!”

 

“Sure – Ian told me all about you. Says you’re to come visit again sometime.”  

You can find the whole series HERE.

Londonium

And you can check out more about the author here.

Miri