(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Ronnie was written by R. R. Virdi.)
Kelly held her shoes in her hand as she walked along the shore where the ocean of Elloi met the white sand. She loved the feel of the wet sand between her toes and the breeze in her hair. It made her smile. It was nice to escape real life sometimes, but even here she had work to do.
Coming to a large cluster of boulders, Kelly slipped her shoes back on and climbed up the boulders then sat down, feet dangling off the edge as she faced the sunset on the ocean. It wasn’t that far down to the water—just enough to dangle feet without getting them wet.
She felt a breeze behind her—which was odd behind the wind usually came off the ocean—so she glimpsed over her shoulder and saw a portal opened, and Ronnie stepped through, glancing around cautiously. Kelly didn’t rise to her feet but rather gestured for him to come over and join her. “It’s a beautiful view here! Have a seat.” Then she smirked at him. “Don’t worry. I won’t push you into the water. We can walk the beach in a bit, but hi, I’m Kelly Blanchard.” She offered him a hand when he lowered himself beside her. “You must be Ronnie Virdi. Nice to meet you. Thanks for choosing a beach location. This is Elloi—a world of mine, and one of my favorite worlds.” She smiled at him. “So how are you doing today?”
“I’m doing wonderful thanks for asking. I mean it’s raining where I was seconds ago, so a beach is awesome. And you?” he moved over to her right side and gave her knowing look, asking a silent question to sit.
Kelly smiled at him and motioned for him to sit. “Do anything funny, and you’ll end up face-first in the water.” She warned him. “So anyway, tell me about yourself. What is it that you do? How does it tie into you being a writer?” She glanced his way.
He rubbed the back of his head and glanced at the gentle swell of the ocean. “Well, ending up in the water might not be the worst thing,” he let out a light chuckle. “I’m 25, the definition of tall, dark and dorky. My day job is building gaming PCs for people, fixing cars on the side, and…I can’t really tell you how it ties into my writing. Well, I guess my love of cars always seeps into my novels. There’s got to be at least one cool car somewhere.” A lopsided smirk appeared on his face
“So with all your work, when do you find time to write?” Kelly raised her brows.
He ran his index finger across his forehead. “Well, I try, if possible, to write a bit before work, and since my job is a sales job based of commission, I can write there when it’s slow. More often than not though, I’m forced to come back after 11pm and stay up till 1am, finishing my word counts….yippie.” He rolled his eyes.
Kelly chuckled. “At least you’re committed to your writing. Now, c’mon, let’s take a stroll.” With that, she rose to her feet, motioned for Ronnie to follow, then climbed off the boulders, removed her shoes again, and walked the shore. “So, what inspire you to start writing?”
He took a double step and used his long stride to come up beside her. “That’s the funny thing,” he shook his head. “It was summer after high school, I was heading to a community college with no real idea of what I wanted to do in life, and…my best friend was over at my house. We were bored and, well he swears it was my idea, I say it was his, we just wanted to write a novel. We’ve been big readers for our entire lives, being put into advanced reading groups in elementary schools, and reading at college levels way back then. We hopped on the computer, and just started,” he shrugged. “It was wonderful, pure, and horrible writing. I loved every second of it. And… that was it, I knew what I wanted to do for my life. Here I am,” he gave another hapless shrug.
Kelly smirked then rubbed her hands with glee. “We have managed to snare you into our enchantment of writing, Bwhahaha!” Then she paused, crinkled her nose, and shook her head. “Yeah, I definitely don’t have the villain laugh down. But anyway!” She chuckled. “So, what story are you working on now? What inspired it?”
He threw his head back and let out an authentic, rolling, belly laugh. “Yeah, you got me alright, oh muse. I can’t help it, I’m entranced with writing. I’m working on an urban fantasy right now that’s tied into the same world as my paranormal investigator series I’ve got going on. Honestly, if I had to pick something to inspire it, I’d blame you, oh musey one. I can’t tell you how it happened. I was fixated on one series, one plan to flesh it out and build it. Then this just happened. Characters flooded my mind, a plot to expand my world and show the larger implications one series could have on another. It just became something akin to the marvel universe, but for the paranormal. I don’t have a choice,” he upturned his hands in a nonchalant and confused gesture.
Kelly smirked. “You’re quite welcome.” She doubted she, herself, was the one who gave Ronnie the ideas, but yeah, muses could be like that. “So, what is this story about?”
He rubbed his jaw and scratched at a few days worth of stubble. “Well, honestly, it’s the most important story of mine right now. It’s not fully developed, I’m a pantser so I’m still figuring it out. But it takes place in the same world and continuum as my main series, The Grave Report. That’s something that’s fleshed out and going somewhere haha!” A goofy smile appeared on his lips and kicked a small mound of sand.
A seashell half-buried in the sand caught Kelly’s attention, and she scooped it up then brushed it off to see the green hue on the white shell when held up to the light. She smiled at Ronnie. “Trinket for my Muse Shop. Don’t worry. I won’t give this to you. I could unleash a volley of ideas, and I won’t do that to you.” She pocketed it away. “So, ‘The Grave Report’…what’s it about? Who are the characters?” She furrowed her brows as she glanced at him while they continued walking.
“Oh,” his eyes went owlishly wide. “Well, it’s about a man who was murdered by the paranormal, he never found out what did it and because of that, he’s never gotten the closure to move on. He’s stuck as a soul, forced to inhabit the bodies of those killed by the supernatural and use their minds, memories, skills and bodies to solve their murders for them. The more he does this though, the more he keeps their memories at the cost of his original own. So the series begins in media res with him having done this for years. He’s already forgotten his original identity and name, going by the self given moniker, Vincent Graves, the only thing, the only name, he has to cling to. It’s all he has.” Pants for a few seconds, slows his breathing to a few, deep breaths. “Whew, that was a mouthful.”
“Sounds intriguing, but I’ve got to ask, what is the victim of a paranormal homicide doing having to solve his own murder?” She furrowed her brows. “I mean, that’s the detectives’ job, I would assume. And if he can take on only the bodies of those people killed by the supernatural, then wouldn’t those people also be trying to figure out how they died and such?” Then she shrugged. “But then again, I never pay attention to paranormal stuff anyway, so I don’t know how it’s done, so enlighten me.” She smiled at him.
“I can see how that can be confusing, but most people who die that way don’t get the chance to do this, they’re stuck in limbo with no power whatsoever. Vincent would have been like that too, if it weren’t for a little intervention by powers up on high. He’s still looking into who or what sprung him from soulful purgatory if you will, as well as his own murder. But he is forced to deal with an intermediary that gives him his jobs. The average person isn’t afforded the opportunity to do that. Vincent still doesn’t know why he’s been stuck with this gig, trust me, he complains about it all the time. All he knows is, it doesn’t pay the bills, but he has to do it anyway.” He shrugged. “I mean the paranormal are famous for not playing by our rules, and being fair. Vincent’s learned that the hard way, a dead guy can’t even stay dead and enjoy the peace.”
Kelly nodded. “Okay, that makes a lot more sense, so who are the other characters involved? Surely it’s not just Vincent.”
“No it’s not.” He looked to the ground for a second, thinking. “Well, there’s his handler of sorts named Church, who only meets Vincent in churches, he’s a bit of a quiet smart ass. Vincent suspects his name might not be Church, but hey, you can’t question your bosses can you? Church gives Vincent his timeline, yeah he has a set time of how long he can stay in a body and use it to solve their murders, if he doesn’t solve it in that time, he has to move one…meaning the monster can go free. So he’s got pressure and costs. Church helps Vincent stay in touch with his humanity because fighting monsters is a draining job, it makes you cynical and forget the important things in life. Think of Church as his humanity sherpa!” He let out a little laugh to himself, because…he thought it was slightly funny.
Kelly didn’t laugh only because she was taking it all in, but she nodded. “Very interesting.” She considered continuing asking questions about the story, but she knew she’d be talking with the character soon enough, so she could ask him directly. Instead, Kelly decided to follow another stream of thoughts. “So, is there anything you’d like your readers to take away from your story when they finish reading it? What’s the one thing you hope they remember about it days, week, even maybe years after they’ve read it?” She found another smooth seashell and scooped it up, pocketing it away before glancing Ronnie’s way.
Ronnie noticed the subtle taking of the seashell and wondered if she really did derive her musery powers from them. He could use a couple. “Yeah actually, Vincent’s world is dark, it’s brutal and terrifying, but despite it all, he perseveres. He can’t have a normal life, be blissfully ignorant of the little things people can take for granted. But he does his job anyway, so people can continue living in that peaceful, ignorant, bliss. There’s a lot of hope and bright stuff in this book, and the series despite how hard a hand he’s been dealt, because that’s the point. Vincent is literally beaten down, harmed physically and emotionally so much through these stories, but he keeps pushing, because in a world full of monsters, he’s only human, and that’s the point. Human’s can take a lot of punishment and keep ticking. We’re strong things, we may not have the powers and strengths of monsters, but we’re stubborn, we care, we can love and do heroic things in the name of that. No matter how much we get kicked to the curb, we get back up again. So I want people to come away seeing how bad Vincent has it, but he still fights. So should they.” He exhaled, and looked at the soft sand, finding it an inviting place to fall down for a lie down.
“Reminds me a lot of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem during the Crusades, but that’s for an altogether different story. However, I do like the idea, and you have a solid story on your hands, so I hope you the best with all your endeavors.” Then she glanced to the sky and sighed. “Unfortunately our time is up though.” At a gesture of her hand, a portal opened before them. “This will take you home. Thanks for visiting and for the chat. It was great meeting you and learning about your story! Keep writing.” She gave him a warm smile.
He returned the smile, tapped his first two fingers to his head in a salute, and hopped through the portal with a shout. “Thanks, you rock!” And he tumbled through.
R. R. Virdi’s book, ‘Grave Beginnings’ is available online at the following link, and be sure to follow him on social media!