(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Clint was written by Clint Brill.)
It had been another long day, but Kelly was grateful to slip away to Cuskelom, and before her were the stairs of a castle’s tower. She knew Lorrek’s study was up there. He wasn’t in Cuskelom at this time, and he would let her borrow his study for this interview, so she started up the stairs—her hand on the wall to keep from accidentally misstepping. She muttered under her breath, not for the first time, how she wished Lorrek would just conjure a railing along these stairs, but it never crossed his mind since he tended to teleport wherever he needed to be.
Up, up, up, she took the twisting staircase until she finally came to the top. She stood in a small corridor outside a single door, but on either side of the door were windows, which let sunlight in―designed just right to aim the light down the stairwell during the hours of the day.
Stepping through the door, Kelly glimpsed around these familiar settings. Bookshelves lined the walls with ancient books and scrolls which gave the entire room the ‘old book smell’. She noticed lots of little trinkets on the shelves as well and wondered if Lorrek had left anything out for her to take back to her Muse Shop, but she wasn’t here for that. Instead she went to the desk at the center of the room but noted the window behind the desk. That was where Lorrek often stood with his hands tucked behind his back as he dove into the realm of magic to survey the borders of Cuskelom.
Coming to the desk, Kelly began straightening the documents found there. She wasn’t going to put anything away but at least straighten them—some sense of organization was needed, and sometimes Lorrek overlooked that.
Suddenly, the door opened, and Kelly jerked her head up in time to see Prince Heldon enter the chamber escorting another man. Kelly moved away from the desk and nodded her thanks to Heldon before reaching her hand out to the guest as Heldon slipped away. “You must be Clint Brill. Fantastic to meet you! I hope you don’t mind meeting here in the study.” She motioned to their surroundings. “You gave me a choice between the gardens and the study, and…well, the last several interviews I’ve done were in the gardens, and I needed a change of scenery.” She then led the way over to a sitting area where she sat down. “You’re welcome to sit, or you may take a look around.”
Clint had followed the man up the stairs with his back pressed against the wall as he tried to stay as far away from the edge of the staircase as he could. His heart raced as he tried to understand why there was no railing to keep people from falling to their deaths. At the top of the stairs, he moved as far from the steps as he could and paused to take several deep breaths, his eyes squeezed shut as he wiped his hands on his pants.
The man in front of him opened the single door and Clint felt his heart racing once again. “Why did I agree to do this?” he mumbled to himself. He followed the man into the room and stopped, staring at the study. His eyes moved slowly around the room, taking everything in. He wanted to examine the books in more detail but knew he couldn’t. He wasn’t here for that. He gazed longingly one more time at the books then pulled his gaze away when he heard a woman speaking to him.
He turned to see Kelly and smiled at her, some of the tension slipping from his body. He shook her hand and said, “If I’d known the study was at the top of stairs with no railing, I would have chosen someplace else. I don’t do well with heights.” He walked to a chair and sat down, glancing around the room one more time. “I’d rather just get this over with. After the interview, I’ll send for my things and move in here so I don’t have to face those stairs again.”
Kelly laughed. “Well then, you’d be spending a lot of time with the sorcerer prince of this land, Lorrek. Although he’s very polite, he’s very quiet as well. Sorry about the stairs. Even though I created this world, I didn’t design this place—believe it or not.” She wagged her head but then reached for a pitcher of water and poured some into two cups, offering one to Clint. “So tell me, how long have you been writing?”
Clint looked around the room again, wondering if sharing the room with a stranger would be worth avoiding the stairs. He sighed and shook his head, knowing a trip down the stairs was in his near future. He took the cup of water with a nod then looked at Kelly. “I’ve been writing short stories for about 30 years. I didn’t start writing for publication until a few years ago.”
Kelly could see his reluctance about the stairs and mentally asked one of the sorceress to conjure a portal up here that would take Clint home when the time was right, so he wouldn’t have to take the stairs again. She felt really bad about it, but it was too late now.
She focused on what he had said and tilted her head. “So, what motivated you to write for publication?”
Clint took a sip of the water and settled into the chair, putting his left ankle on his right knee. “To be honest, I’m really not sure. Part of me had the misguided illusion that I could make a lot of money if I put a book out on the market. A bigger motivation, though, was the desire to simply see a book with my name on it. To be able to hold it in my hands and know that I created it. Now, I publish just to try to fill a shelf on my bookcase with my books. I’d love it if I could make money off my writing, but I publish for me.”
Settling back in her chair, Kelly sipped on some water and then lowered the cup to her lap. “Have you published anything?”
Clint absentmindedly swirled the water in the cup as he stared at the top of the desk. He nodded when he heard Kelly’s question and looked at her. “I have one published novel and a couple short stories. One was published in an online magazine and the other was published in an anthology.”
“Congrats on your published work!” She beamed as she lifted her cup in a slight toast, but then she set the cup on the table near the chair and leaned forward, clasping her hands together. She locked eyes with Clint and smiled. “So which do you prefer to write—short stories or novels?”
Clint sipped the water to moisten his dry throat. “I prefer novels. I enjoy getting to know my characters and seeing how they handle certain situations. Short stories seem too rushed, too limited. I don’t get a chance to see how they react and grow when the situation is over.”
She nodded. “I can completely relate. Short stories are always over too quickly, and they normally don’t have a sequel, which is disappointing!” She then shook her head, ridding herself of these thoughts as she got back on track. “So what genre do you write?”
Clint smiled at her. “I primarily write fantasy. I also write science fiction, and I recently started dabbling in horror.”
“Quite exciting genres!” She grinned, thoroughly enjoying fantasy and science fiction herself. Sitting back in her chair, she nodded at him. “What’s your current novel about?”
He settled deeper into the chair, switching the position of his legs as he sipped the water again. “My current novel as fantasy about a young girl in a magic academy. She’s having trouble with her studies and she’s also being bullied by one of her classmates. She’s afraid she’ll get kicked out of the school if she doesn’t start showing improvement in her spellcasting abilities. Eventually, she’ll become desperate enough to summon a demon and allow him to possess her to help her get through the school. That, of course, will solve one problem while creating even more problems for her.”
“You know, I’ve interviewed a few people who have demon characters, and in my mind they all suddenly become one character, which would make for a very entertaining crossover of everyone’s stories, I’m sure.” Kelly smiled thinking back to Kat Perrin’s villain, Raven, whom Kelly had antagonized. But then she blinked and came back to the conversation to present Clint with more questions. “So…I’m assuming her main conflicts are her lack of confidence and the demon? Or is there a more pressing matter she must face?”
Clint smiled at her. “This book is actually a spin-off of another book I’ll be publishing soon. It includes a few cross-over scenes with that book, as well as cross-overs with a second series I started and am waiting to publish. All three books share cross-over scenes with each other, so I’m no stranger to that kind of thing.” He paused and sipped the water again, setting the empty cup on the table. “To answer your question, her primary conflict is with herself. She doubts her ability and that’s holding her back from trying to be what she wants. I’m only 20k words into the story, so I don’t know for sure if there will be a major external issue she’ll have to deal with. Probably not, though. I think she has her hands full with the issues she’s already trying to deal with.”
“Sounds like you have a lot of story-hoppers, and that’s great! It’s a very interesting way of tying books together and such—keep the fans reading.” She approved with a nod and a smile but then glimpsed at the clock on the wall and frowned. “Our time is about up.” Then she quickly shot Clint a look. “Don’t worry. I asked for a portal to be opened up here, so you won’t have to take the stairs, but before you go, answer me this: there is a LOT of competition in publishing fantasy books. What makes yours stand above the rest?”
Clint sighed with relief when he heard he wouldn’t have to face the stairs again. His expression became serious when he heard her final question. “That’s a tough question and I’m not sure how to answer it. I’d have to say I try to keep my characters grounded in reality, so to speak. There’s nothing really heroic about my characters. They’re just ordinary people trying to do the best they can to deal with extraordinary circumstances. A lot of fantasy authors give their characters the ability to laugh in the face of danger. My characters aren’t like that. They have doubts about their ability to handle situations they’re faced with. I know I’m not explaining it as well as I should, but that’s the essence of it.”
Kelly nodded then rose to her feet. “Well, this was a delightful conversation! I’m so glad you agreed to the interview.” She then moved to the door, opened it, and found a portal in the doorway. Moving away from it, she motioned to it. “See? Portal. Just walk through it, and you’ll be home. No crazy teleporting mess. A lot of people don’t trust that for some reason.” She shrugged but then smiled at Clint once more. “Your story sounds fascinating, and I hope you the very best! Let me know when you’ve published it.”
Clint smiled and nodded as he stood and walked to the door. “I was nervous at first, but I really enjoyed the interview. I’ll definitely have to start doing more of them. Thank you, Kelly, for taking the time to do this. I appreciate it.” He glanced at the portal and smiled. “I wish portals like that were in common use. It would save so much time. I’ll be sure to let you know when the books come out.” He smiled at her and nodded before stepping through the shimmering portal.
Kelly watched her guest leave and smiled. Yet another successful interview!
Clint Brill’s published science fiction novel, Pure Control, is available on Amazon as Ebook and Paperback. He is planning to release a fantasy novel titled ‘On My Honor’ later this month. However, the novel he discussed in this interview is his story ‘Wynter’s Song’ which he hopes to have released in October. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and check out his other sites!