Author Interview: Margot Comte

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Margot was written by Margot Comte.)

Renaissance England—Kelly just had an interview over in Italy in the same era, and she determined there wasn’t much difference when it came to the clothing of the different countries. However, the politics—yeah, she had no idea. All she knew of this era was really Henry VIII of England and his many wives—specifically Anne Boleyn, and she wasn’t sure if this was before or after them in time.

However, looking around, Kelly determined she was in the garden courtyard of a palace as other courtiers meandered about. She felt the familiar tingling of a portal opening nearby and rounded a corner to see a portal in a doorway and a woman stepping through. As always with these interviews, as soon as she stepped through, her modern clothes changed to fit the era, and Kelly smiled at her surprise. “We’re going for the full experience! I’m Kelly Blanchard.” She shook her hand. “You must be MargotMargot. So you said you’re most familiar with the Tudor and Stewart times?” She raised her brows. “Then can you tell me where exactly we are or perhaps when we are?”

Margot looked down at her corset and grimaced a little.  “I’d forgotten about this contraption,” she laughed.  “It looks like we’re in Hampton Court; the palace that Cardinal Wolsey built.  I’d have to pull out my research to say when exactly we are.”  She pauses and looks around at the garden, with its many songbirds and flowering bushes.  “Can we stay outside, please? I love this natural area.”

“Of course!” Kelly beamed and motioned for them to walk the garden. “So, you’ve researched this era a lot? Is it just for fun? Or part of your job or what exactly?” She furrowed her brows as they walked a shaded path at a slow, relaxed pace.

Margot reached out to tickle a red tulip.  “I love history.  I have for the longest time.  I do some research for my job, but that’s American history and not my forte.”  She wrinkled her nose and watched a sparrow dart through the air.  “I watch mostly documentaries because I love to imagine what life was like so long ago.  These people, they may not have had our technology, but that doesn’t mean that they were stupid.”  She paused by a trimmed hedge and smiled at the birds nest carefully being constructed in the branches.  “The novel that I have been working on for twelve years takes place in a medieval England analogue, and I don’t want it to seem like an eighth grader wrote it, so I ‘have’ to research some history.”  She used her fingers to quote the air, and laughed.  “It does help that it’s just so much fun.”

“Oh yes, I’ve found when you’re actually researching for a novel, research can become a lot of fun! Almost too much fun actually.” Kelly chuckled, thinking back to all her research on the Crusades for her historical fiction works, but then she dismissed it to keep focused on the topic at hand. She tucked her hands behind her back and cast Margot a glance. “I’m going to ask you about your writing in a bit, but first I want to know who you are as an individual in real life. You said you have to research American history for your job. What exactly is your job?”

Margot smiled and clapped her hands, giddy to be able to talk about her job.  “I’m a naturalist!  So I do outdoor programming for a municipal city.  It’s a part-time gig, but I get to spend a lot of time out in nature, which is the best thing ever.  I like to incorporate normal nature programs like frogs and reptiles, but I also like to do weird and novel programs, like learning how to ‘survive’ zombies.” She talked animatedly, swishing her hands around in big movements.  “Or, like how to survive in the suburbs; learn to read a map, stay home by yourself, and cook boxed meals.  Stuff that kids don’t always get to learn.”  She hefted her heavy skirts in an attempt to catch a breeze; already she was beginning to sweat.  “I get the local history part because we have a barn and house that were actually used in the late 1800’s, so we get to give third graders a tour and teach them about what life was like back then.”

“Very interesting! Sounds very busy, and I have no idea how you even find time to write, but good for you!’ Kelly grinned at her. They came upon a fountain with a pool around it, and Kelly sat on the edge and ran her fingers through the cool water. It was refreshing. She then smiled up at Margot. “Okay, so I get the feeling you’ve been writing all your life, right? You just seem to be that kind of person. But what inspired you to start writing?”

Margot’s skirts billowed around her as she sank down onto the ground.  It wasn’t exactly comfortable to sit in a corset, but she would manage.  “I hated writing until sixth grade.  I could never come up with original ideas, so I would steal them from the kids around me and write about whatever they were writing about.  They got mad at me, and I never liked doing writing assignments.  Then in sixth grade, I discovered that writing, like reading, was a great escape mechanism.  I wrote my first short story about myself, a Mary Jane character, inserted into the Eros and Psyche myth, and fell in love with descriptions and building this little world that no one but myself could see.”  She relaxed into her corset, let it hold her upright, while her green eyes took on a dreamy cast.  “I would stay up until two or three in the morning, just typing away at the computer.  It was all over from there on out.”  She gazed at her fingers in what she assumed was a ladylike fashion.

Kelly smiled as she listened to Margot. It was always awesome to see the dreamlike stare at writers cast back to their first memories of writing and how they fell in love with writing.

Then she observed Margot a bit uncomfortable sitting on the ground, and Kelly gestured to the bench near the pond. “Come. We can sit there.” She offered Margot a hand up, and the two headed over to the bench. “So, what is it you’re writing now? have you published any work?” She cast Margot a glance as they sat on the bench in the shady area.

Margot flopped onto the bench, tried to get comfortable.  Why had she chosen this era?  Sure the clothes looked nice, but they were so restrictive.  “I wish I was published,” she smiled wistfully, “I always wanted to be.  But I have this teeny little habit of never finishing the novels I start.”  She hiked her skirts up above her knees and stretched her long legs out.  “Aaah.  But I have finished a few short stories and quite a lot of poetry.  In the last month, which was July’s Camp NaNo, I worked on my zombie novella, my epic fantasy novel– the one I mentioned before– and my sci-fi novel.  I am also trying to get a compilation of poetry together, but that has a lot of staggering stops along the way.”

“You sound very busy with writing.” Kelly shook her head amazed as she smiled. “Okay, so which of all your many stories would you like to talk about? I’m open to any of them!”

Margot stretched her arms and waggled her wrists.  “I have to talk about my epic fantasy.  That one is my baby.  I started it when I was eighteen, and it’s been through about six or seven reincarnations right now.  I literally have the history of the world written down.”  She paused and tilted her head, as though listening to some distant voice on the wind.  “Yeah, I know guys,” she said.  “And those characters are constantly screaming at me when I’m driving or when I’m in the shower, but then when I sit down to write, they shut right up.”

“Oh that’s annoying! They must behave especially if I’m going to be meeting one of them.” Kelly grinned but then situated herself on the bench to become more comfortable. The corset she was wearing was stiff and awkward, but she focused on the conversation. “Ok, so tell me about this story. What is it about? Who are the characters? What conflicts do they face and such?”

Margot laughed.  A lot.  Then she sighed.  “The story itself is about balance.  There’s a couple of gods feuding—one light, one dark—and they use people as their pawns.  The dark one wants to take over everything, but he doesn’t understand that without light, there can be no darkness.  But the gods don’t really play a big role, yet.”  She turned to yell at the wind, which picked up and tugged at her wavy brown hair.  “Oi, I said yet!”  She grumbled to herself for a moment, then looked back at Kelly.  “The main characters are women, because I love strong female leads.  One is a jealous and selfish barmaid, named Sarthe, who ruins Toryn’s life by trying to kill her.  Never mind that Toryn is Murphy’s Law Incarnated.” She paused, tilted her head again.  “Yes, you are, we had this discussion already.  Anyway, Toryn’s country is torn by war and strife, and Sarthe uses her womanly wiles to climb the social ladder.  Meanwhile, Toryn has to learn to lead her people, except that she runs away from all the conflicts in her life.”  Margot paused again, clearly frustrated.  “Name ONE time that you didn’t run away from something.”  She listened intently, then a slow smile spread across her face.  “Well that’s at the end of the story, silly.  I can’t tell them THAT.  So the gods pick people to use as pawns.  Toryn is the light god’s pawn, but she rebels partway through his plan, messing things up for everyone.  And it turns out that Sarthe must make a decision; do something for her own good, or do something that will save the whole world.”

“Interesting.” Kelly paused to take it all in. That was a lot. “That sounds very complicated, but I applaud you for tackling such a huge project.” She smiled at Margot. “So what inspired this story? Bits of history? People you know? Or what exactly?”

Margot blushed, hard.  “It sounds stupid.  But this was right when the second Lord of the Rings movie came out.  My English teacher had bookmarks, and one was of Eowyn.  I took one look at her and said, ‘This is a character, what’s her story?’  And then immediately I heard the words, ‘I have come to challenge the king, for he is an imposter.’  And I knew that this was Toryn, and she had a tragic backstory.  So I started researching medieval history in England, and created Czarlak, the evil king who stole the crown from his half-brother.  Sarthé came from an idea that Toryn needed a ‘villain’ who was just a jerk so that she could know how childish she’d been.  Though, I did model her after Byzantine Empress Theodora.  My characters are a mix of a ton of historical figures because I like to create ‘Frankenstein’ characters; I pull bits and pieces of historical personalities and stitch them together.”  She smiled, watched a lazy cloud float across the blue sky.

“You do that too??” Kelly shot her a surprised look but then laughed. “I do the same with history. It’s so much fun!” Then she settled down and tilted her head to a side and frowned. “Our time is about up. Time always goes too fast in these interviews!” Kelly grumbled but then shook her head. “But before we leave, a few more questions.” She smiled at Margot. “What’s the one thing you’d like your readers to take from your story after they’ve read it? What would you like them to remember about it?”

Margot paused and thought for a moment.  This was a hard question, she hadn’t been expecting that!  A bead of sweat rolled down her back and she shrugged her shoulders uncomfortably.  “I guess…I mean, I’d like them to know that we’re all human.  Even the most monstrous people still have good qualities.  It’s really easy to condemn people as “bad” when they do something wrong, but there really isn’t any black and white in life, and I don’t think there should be in literature either.  We’re all made up of good and bad bits; Czarlak stole the crown because he wanted to bring religion to his people, because he wanted to unite them together against a foreign invasion.  He just goes about it in a wrong way.  And I think that’s the lesson we have to learn from history too; people aren’t born monsters.  They are formed through their life experiences, and even then, they still have some good in them.  After all, we’re only human.”

Kelly nodded. “Those are good points and important for us to keep in mind.” Finally she rose to her feet with a sigh. “And we’ve got to head back, but we can talk on the way. What’s your story titled? And I know you said you have a bad habit of not finishing stories, but any idea when you’ll be finished with it? I can think of a lot of people who might be interested in reading it.” Kelly smiled at Margot as she led the way back through the gardens.

Margot thumped on her foot as she walked, trying to wake it back up.  “It’s tentatively titled ‘Revolutions by Fire’.  I honestly have no idea when it will be done.  I finished the first part in 2013’s NaNo, and the second part is going to be this year’s project.  So . . . if I work really hard at it . . . hopefully by 2018 or 2019?”

Kelly smiled. “That is a goal to have. Keep me posted, okay?” She arched her brows as they came to a doorway, and Kelly gestured, opening a portal. Then she motioned to it. “That’ll take you home, but thank you so much for visiting. It was great to meet you and have this conversation. Your story is very intriguing, so *finish* it!” She laughed but then grinned at Margot. “Keep up the good work!”

“Thanks!” Margot said, feeling the slow blush crawl across her face.  Her eyes fell on an object by the portal.  No way.  How did it get there?  She hurried forward and scooped up the pineapple.  “Um.” She said, and looked around.  “Um, don’t tell the guards I’ve taken this, okay?”  The pineapple cuddled closer to her, looking as content as a pineapple could.  “Thank you for taking the time to interview me.  It really means a lot, and it makes me want to write, which is a good thing!”

“Fantastic! I love hearing that. And enjoy the pineapple.” Kelly waved at Margot as she stepped through the portal back into her own home. Kelly waited a moment, looked around to take in the site one more, and then she too stepped through the portal returning home.


Margot Comte’s story ‘Revelations by Fire’ has no release date set yet, but you can find her on social media and follow her for updates:

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