(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Grace was written by Grace Snoke.)
Kelly ducked under a branch into the clearing of the forest garden, and she smiled when she saw Lorrek there. “You know, I was thinking. What we need is a hammock right there.” She turned back to the trees and gestured between two trees. “The shadows would keep it cool, and it’d be a nice relaxing place.”
Lorrek frowned. He had known of her approach, so he emerged from the magic realm in order to greet her, but her words puzzled him. “A hammock?”
“Don’t tell me you don’t know what a hammock is!” Kelly spun around to him with wide eyes. “It’s like a…sheet tied between two trees, and you lie in it, and it’s very relaxing.”
He narrowed his eyes. “Doesn’t sound very secure or safe.”
“It is!” Kelly put her hands on her hips. “It’s a great way to relax and get fresh air. Could you conjure up on for me right there?” She pointed back to the trees.
Kelly crossed her arms. “You’re stubborn.”
He smirked at her. “Of course.” With that, he drew near to her and moved to walk past her but halted at her shoulder and looked down at her. “You are the author here. You can conjure it yourself. However, I believe your friend is coming.”
As soon as he said that, a portal opened in the middle of the clearing, and Kelly completely forgot about Lorrek as Grace Snoke stepped through. She approached her, “Grace! Great to see you. You remember Lorrek from that time when you interviewed him.” Kelly gestured back at Lorrek. “He won’t stick around while you and I chat, but I’m trying to convince him a hammock in this garden would be the ideal additional, but he disagrees.”
Lorrek acknowledged Grace with a nod. “Lady Grace, I trust you are well.”
Grace slipped through the portal, curiosity clearly written on her face as she looked around the garden, looking up at Kelly’s voice as she heard it, inclining her head with a sarcastic grin at Lorrek at the reintroduction.
“Lady…I do not believe the term fits as I am anything but a lady, but we will use it as it is,” she said with a laugh. “I am well, and Kelly is right. A hammock belongs in the garden. My husband wants one in the gazebo in our garden. I think it should go elsewhere, but architecturally it won’t fit anywhere else,” she paused, changing subjects, “I do hope our interview wasn’t too painful. I am looking forward to this interview with Kelly. I’d say you can stick around if she’ll let you, but I may regret that offer.” She slowly turned around to take in the garden. “Very beautiful, as was your library.”
Lorrek bowed his head. “Many thanks, but I have duties to attend. May your conversation with Lady Kelly go well.” With that, he walked away, and Kelly gave Grace an apologetic shrug.
“Sorry. He’s a busy guy, but now I get interview you as you had once done with him” Kelly clasped her hands together and grinned with glee before motioning for Grace to follow her through a shaded path which snaked through the gardens. “So, I know you’re a journalist, which makes interviewing you a bit intimidating, but how did you get to where you are, and have you always been writing?”
Grace inclined her head to Lorrek and his explanation that he was a busy guy—she already knew that from her interview with him and guessed if he wanted to interview her as revenge, he would have. “Farewell.”
Her attention turned to Kelly, nodding at the explanation and internally cringing at the look of sheer glee on Kelly’s face as she followed her down the shaded path. Her nose wrinkled at the question—she asked questions like these to others all the time. She wasn’t used to being on the receiving end.
“I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing. In school, I was always two or three grades ahead of where I was supposed to be on public school tests for my grade level. I enjoyed writing stories, reports, whatever. It didn’t matter the subject matter, I would find a joy in writing about it. My first big creative writing I was probably 9 or 10, and I wrote a screenplay for a music teacher where all of her students participated in the play, and we performed it in a theater in San Antonio. I don’t exactly recall the plot of it now—it’s been 25+ years since then, but it was cute-sy.” She paused for a moment to smell a flower before continuing. “From there, I just wrote. When I turned 15 or 16, I was introduced to chat rooms online and roleplaying and found a new outlet for creative writing—create characters and interact with other’s people’s characters in a chat/roleplay environment. It taught me to write to a variety of skill sets and to think fluidly when it came to characters.”
They meandered the beaten path where beams of sunlight broke through the trees casting rays here and there while a breeze shuffled through the garden, rippling the leaves.
Kelly nodded as she listened to Grace then she cast a glance her way. “So these days what kind of stories do you write? Novels? Short stories? And have you published any of your work?”
Grace’s eyes often went to the leaves when the wind brushed through them, she caught peeks of birds and other flitting creatures in the garden. The place really was picturesque and fitting of a castle garden.
“Those questions are very interesting ones to answer,” Grace said with a laugh, pulling her brown hair coming loose from her ponytail back into it. “I am working on three novels at this time. I’m not sure I’d be good at short stories— novellas, yes—but short stories not so much as my stories tend to be a bit too complex to fit in a short story word count. I also write a lot of non-fiction. My job as a corporate journalist means I write a lot each day. I also maintain two blogs —one on social media and one on WordPress—as well as writing creatively. The only thing published, right now, is a non-fiction children’s book for adults, titled Think Happy Club: Friendship.” She paused again, thinking about the rest. “The novel that is furthest along, The Wolf Siren, is a paranormal romance novel that I started writing for last year’s ‘So You Think You Can Write’ contest. I won’t bore you with the details on that except to say that I started the manuscript, should have had plenty of time to finish it, but didn’t. I placed in the Top 25 of the contest and had to turn down my spot because the manuscript was not complete.”
“So is this the one you’re mostly focusing on then?” Kelly brushed aside a low branch but then plucked off a leaf and began folding it as she listened to Grace.
Grace chewed on her lip, hesitating a few minutes before answering. “For the most part, yes,” she answered, watching Kelly fold the leaf. “Let me explain. My muse is quite fickle. While I was writing The Wolf Siren, a snippet—the Prologue—for one of my fantasy novels came to me. It didn’t matter how much I wanted to keep writing on The Wolf Siren, my muse would not shut up until I actually opened the other document and wrote the prologue out. After that, she quit whining and let me go back to work on The Wolf Siren…until the next story idea came storming in and she demanded I write it down.” Grace smirked for a moment before shrugging off a thought. “It is what it is. Some of the ideas I don’t even know where they come from. They just pop up, and I write it out and let them percolate for later.”
“Yeah, being the muse for a lot of people, I totally understand the feeling, but thankfully I can give away my ideas.” Kelly smirked at Grace before motioning for her to follow. Soon she led her down the path to a place where a waterfall cascaded in the middle of the forest. Kelly went to the edge of the large pool and sat down on a stone. “Sorry, I can never resist the water!” She took off her shoes and slipped her feet into the water. “You’re welcome to do the same if you like. It’s relaxing…Now though, which of these stories do you want to talk about? I want to hear all about it!” She gave Grace a warm smile then kicked her feet a little in the water.
Grace nodded at her words. Kelly was often referred to as The Muse, after all. She followed her down the path and exclaimed “Oh! A Waterfall! I don’t think I can blame you.” Following her motions, she kicked off her sandals and settled down on the edge of the pool before putting her feet in the water. “Hah! I want to talk about all of them, but I think The Wolf Siren would be the easiest to talk about, though if you want to hear a bit about all of them, we can definitely do that too,” she answered. “I’m pretty easy going.”
“Well, if we had all the time in the world, I’d love to hear about all three of them, but since I can’t stop time, tell me about Wolf Siren. What inspired it? What exactly is it about? Who are the characters? What are their main conflicts?” Kelly raised her brows as she glanced at Grace, but then she looked down at her hand, found a flat stone and tried to skip it across the water. Two skips, and the stone sank.
“Inspiration is an interesting topic to start off with. I often use pictures as inspiration and a picture of Evangeline Lily, ironically, is the inspiration for my main character who shares the same first name—Evangeline. And sometimes that is all it takes—a picture to inspire an idea. I was looking for an interesting name at the time for a character and was just googling unique names and that name stuck,” She answered, watching the rock skip across the water, chuckling to herself—at least her and Kelly shared the same bad luck with skipping rocks. “I saw an image of her and pegged her to be a werewolf lore master—a keeper of lore for her pack.”
She paused running her hands through the grass. “Now, keep in mind, I’ve never seen Lost. The image of her is from a promo shoot for Lost. Found that out way after the fact. So I’ve had the character of Evangeline in my head for a while but didn’t really pursue it until I saw the advertisement for the SYTYCW contest. At which point I read through their various lines and decided Nocturne would be the best fit for me as I like paranormal romances and paranormal urban fantasy novels—okay I like all genres, but that’s just me being eclectic. It didn’t take long for the story to start forming in my head.”
Grace brushed her feet through the water, watching the waves swell out and swish up against the shore before continuing. “So it’s supposed to be a paranormal romance. One of my pet peeves with all the shifter romances is the male is almost always the werewolf, the human is a female in desperate need of saving. I wanted to change it up a bit. I wanted a female werewolf who is normally a strong, independent character who needs help because she was injured in a raid by the Banished,” she chuckled a bit. “And, of course, the person her brother, Caleb, decides needs to protect her, Michael, ends up being her mate—there’s way more to it than that, but that’s just a quick summary. The conflict? Pack leaders, like Evangeline, are being assassinated by the Banished and they don’t know why.”
Kelly ran her hand through the cool water as she listened. “Intriguing. I’m glad you’re making it different. That’s always a good idea. So what is your favorite thing about the book? Could be a character, a specific scene, or anything.”
Grace considered the question, leaning back on her hands, looking up at the foliage and sky over head.
“I like the fact that I often make the characters uncomfortable with what they’re dealing with,” she answered. “Whether it be trying to explain to a human what a mate is in werewolf terms or if it’s Caleb having the pack shaman just ignore him and do what she was going to do either way or if it’s Michael trying to cope with the fact that Evangeline is not just a woman, but a werewolf – a creature he has hunted and killed when they became one of the Betrayed. I think it will be really interesting to see how the three react when they learn the reason she was intentionally shot to be injured not killed.”
Kelly smiled at the thought. “Oh yeah, making characters uncomfortable is a lot of fun!” She too lifted her gaze to the sky and knew it was time for both of them to leave, and she heaved a heavy sigh as she pulled her feet out of the water. “As much as I’d love to chat with you more, Grace—because I really do want to hear about your other two stories—unfortunately time is up.” She motioned to a portal that had opened in the shadows of the trees nearby. “Sorry to cut this short, but we writers can just talk forever, which is awesome, but Real Life is just plain demanding.” Kelly frowned as she rose to her feet, but then she smiled at Grace. “But thanks for joining me here and for chatting. It was great to see you again! Sorry we can’t talk longer.”
Grace rose to her feet, dusting her behind off once she was up and eyed the portal that had mysteriously appeared behind them—as if it followed them. It was kind of creepy.
“It’s not a problem at all. Real life is really demanding. Thank you for taking time to talk with me and perhaps we can talk about the other stories in the future.” She inclined her head to Kelly before slipping her sandals back on to walk through and disappear through the portal.
Grace Snoke’s story ‘The Wolf Siren’ has no release date set yet, but be sure to follow her on social media for updates!