(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Kat was written by Katika Schneider.)
In her Muse Shop, Kelly glanced at the book she had placed on the counter a few second ago. She hadn’t touched it, but she could have sworn it moved a few inches to the left. Narrowing her eyes, she looked away but then caught movement in the corner of her eye, and AHHA! The book had moved. She quickly slammed her hands on the book to stop it, and out shot a brilliant golden light that hovered in the air like a ghost.
Kelly glared at the light as it turned and she saw its grinning features. “Elf, what are you doing?”
“I’m bored!” The Energy Life Form bemoaned as it whipped around through the air. “Thought I’d come here and see what’s up!”
“I don’t need your pranks right now,” Kelly told him as she picked up the book he had possessed then went to put it on a shelf. “I have someone coming in for an interview any minute now.
“I’ll be good!”
Kelly laughed at this. Him—good? Impossible! Although his presence always did guarantee some entertainment. “If you promise to stay out of sight and out of the way, you may stay.” With that, she picked up a box of odd trinkets from behind the counter to put them away when the front door chimed. Kelly snapped her gaze over to the door then smiled and put down the box once more. “Kat? Fantastic to meet you! I’m Kelly Blanchard. Welcome to my Muse Shop. I hope you’re well today?”
Kat smiled and glanced about the shop. Its contents intrigued her, and she thought about how much fun she and her mother could have looking through all of the odds and ends, but for the time being, she shoved her hands into the pockets of her green scrub pants. There was no need to get herself into trouble, at least not yet.
“I’m doing well enough,” she said. “Even after reading about a few other authors’ accounts with you, I still have screaming in the back of my head to watch my back. She’s a bit dramatic, though. I’m sure you know what I mean.”
Kelly laughed. “Oh, I’m not that mean to real life authors, but say ‘hi’ to Nes for me.” She grinned. “And you might run into characters of mine here. They come through the portal regularly, but anyway.” She picked up the box once more and motioned for Kat to follow her to the back of the room to a table in order to organize the different items. “So, Kat, tell me about yourself. What is it that you do? Write full time or what exactly?”
Kat followed readily, eyes actively watching Kelly sort through her collection. “Well, right now I just write and manage a small, personal farm. I was supposed to go to vet school—“ she took one hand out of her pocket to pluck at her scrubs. “But life threw a couple curve balls, and now I’m technically a ‘homemaker.’ I prefer the title ‘aspiring author and critter caretaker extraordinaire’, but I’ve been told that’s not an official job title. As it is right now, I’m working on getting the discipline to write full time, and am spoiled and lucky that my husband’s job provides enough for us to be comfortable while I pursue my dreams.”
“Hey, having a husband that can provide for you well enough that you don’t have to work hard is awesome.” Kelly smiled at her encouraging. “And he’s supportive of your writing and such?” She raised her brows as she removed ancient scrolls from the box.
“He’s extremely supportive of it. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have found the world I’m currently writing in to begin with. I truly am spoiled with him.” Kat smiled and thought over the past week’s debate she’d had with her husband regarding what this year’s NaNo novel should be about. “He knows my characters and my world, patiently lets me bounce ideas off of him, asks me questions to help me get deeper into my plots and, if I ask nicely, even serves as a sparring partner of sorts so I can make sure my characters’ combative moves are actually practical.”
A bright smile lit Kelly’s face. “That is awesome. You really are spoiled.” Then Kelly moved to put the scrolls on a shelf. “Oh, by the way, you’re welcome to sit.”
But then the chair moved on its own accord. Kelly noticed and glared. “Elf, get out.”
And soon, the bright light emerged from the chair and laughed. “Sorry! I had to!”
Kelly rolled her eyes. “Kat, meet Elf—ELF, which stands for Energy Life Form. He brings to life whatever he possesses. It’s annoying. Elf, leave. I’m doing an interview here.”
“Let me ask the questions!”
“Fine….” And he snakes through the air at a dimmer shade of light.
Finally, Kelly turned back to Kat. “Okay, sorry about that. so when did you first begin writing?”
Kat laughed at the shenanigans, and was about to say that he’d have been welcome to stay if not for the fact that she was certain Elf was still lurking somewhere nearby and would take advantage of such an offer. She took her seat and wiggled into its plushness. “When I was a kid, I wasn’t very good in school – things just didn’t click with me. Then, my fourth grade teacher, Ms. Miller, dedicated an hour to every single class day to ‘Writing Workshop’ where we learned all about creative writing. We touched a few practical aspects of grammar and the like, but overall, it was focused around technique and creativity. I thrived that year, learned to care about academics, and never stopped writing. It’s been with me ever since and is one of the top, oh, three maybe? Driving forces of my life.”
“What are the other driving forces? You mentioned critters and that you had wanted to be a vet, so I assume you’re an animal person?” Kelly smiled as she thought back to her own cats and dog and how she’d always wanted a horse but hadn’t gotten one yet.
“My critters are what keep me sane.” She thought over the observation that she made just yesterday while desperately looking for some quiet time from being badgered by her characters. “In fact, working with my horses is the most surefire way for me to decompress from stress – even the stress that comes with writing. My animals – animals in general, but mine, especially – are the world to me and I live with quite the little menagerie of special needs critters. My other driving force sort of lumps in to them, but it’s my family as a whole.”
“And it all works together, eh? That’s amazing.” Kelly bobbed her head as she said this and placed on the table several more odd trinkets. She was still trying to decide where in the shop to put them—a necklace, a dagger, a candlestick holder, a small carved wooden box, a small stone statue of a snake. “So, what are you working on now, Kat?” Kelly lifted her gaze back to her visitor. “Or do you have a story you’re publishing soon, or what exactly?”
The dagger caught Kat’s interest more than the other items, but she kept her mischief in check. “Right now, I’m putting what I sincerely hope is the final polish on my first novel, Devotion, and I hope to self publish it some time early in 2016.” She put her hands in her pockets again. “This story’s been with me since 2003 and I’d always dreamt of publishing it – in hind sight, I’m glad it took me this long, because the initial concept was in some great need of me gaining life lessons! It took a pretty jarring event in my life to light the fire on me, and rewriting and polishing Devotion has been my primary objective over the past year.”
Determining to deal with the objects from the box later, Kelly scooted them aside and sat down across from Kat then set her elbow on the table and her chin in her palm. “So, what’s Devotion about?”
Kat blew out a slow breath. After as long as she’d spent in her world of Abaeloth, trying to sum the story up in a concise way was always difficult for her. “It’s a fantasy novel, based around a holy war against demons, set on an island nation that does not believe in divine powers anymore. It’s part adventure I suppose, part coming-of-age, and has a dash of romance.” Kat twisted her lips and squinted for a minute before deciding if she should admit to the last. “I think it’s fair warning to tell any potential readers that I’m a little fond of tragedy, too. But!” she added in a hurry. “I can assure you that there are no tragedies that my mighty pen has been unable to resolve with some degree of hope or closure.” She wrinkled her forehead. That still didn’t make it seem much better.
Kelly had to laugh at this. “Oh tragedies are fantastic. I’m a bit too fond of them as well.” Then she gathered a breath. “Okay, so what inspired this story? You said it’s been with you since 2003?”
Kat laughed heartily at this question, as it was one of her favorite stories to tell and summed up her take on characters and how they lead their own lives beautifully. “My story started when I was a freshman in college. My husband was my boyfriend at the time and asked me to join a fantasy online RP with him. I was nervous about the idea at first, and told him I would only participate if my character and his character who I already knew well – the character who my male protagonist, Mathias Sagewind, is roughly based off of – had some sort of history together. He said that was fine and told me to write up how they met.” Her grin was contagious. “Well, I met Nessix and asked her to tell me about herself and she most certainly did. She introduced me to her family, told me how she became a general, filled me in on everything from her birth, up to meeting Mathias, all the way to her death. I was elated with the story she told, but disheartened that I’d left no room to RP with, so my husband suggested I find a way to bring her back to life. Well, I did that, Nes thanked me and ran with the story all on her own once again. We gave up on the idea of an RP and I fleshed out the world of Abaeloth to play in.”
Kelly grinned. “That is just amazing. I love it when characters come alive so much and just take charge!” Then she sat back in her chair and tilted her head to a side, considering Kat. “Can you briefly describe the main characters and what we can expect from them?”
“I’m very fond of Nessix. She’s obnoxiously proud and desperately wants to prove her independence, but she actually has no idea what she’s doing leading an army. Insecure is the best way I can think of to describe her, but she’d kill herself before admitting it outright. Then there’s Mathias. He’s quite literally a legend in my world, an immortal paladin that was resurrected with the help of a god-slaying spear – which my entire saga worth of stories is named after; The Afflicted Saga—and the blessing of the Mother Goddess, Etha. He’s Nes’s ray of hope, but she’s got to accept that first.” Kat glanced at the clock and frowned. So many characters were shouting at her right now, but she kept to the task at hand. “Veed is probably who readers identify most as my main antagonist and it may come as shocking, because he really is a vile man, but I have a quite the soft spot for him. He’s pompous and terrible and seems to attract the most attention from readers. Etha, Mathias’s goddess, is obviously a pretty main player, but her jobs are usually limited to ominous warnings and comic relief
Kat set her brows firmly and told her supporting characters to shut their mouths. They’d have their turn in the spotlight eventually. She smiled at Kelly. “I wish I could go on more—I have trouble shutting up sometimes—but I know you’ve got to get back to organizing your shop soon.”
Kelly nodded. “Yeah, and unfortunately our time is up, I think.” She shook her head. These interviews were alway so short! She rose to her feet. “But one more question. Once your readers complete the story, what would you like them to walk away with? What would you like them to remember or to consider?”
Kat laughed quietly. “I’ve been asked this a few times in the past, and honestly had never put much thought into it. I’ve never really written with the intention of teaching morals or anything like that; my method has always been to cast my characters into their setting and chase them with a pen. I trust that they’ll take me to where I need to go. Obviously, I’m hoping that my readers will walk away with the desire to read the sequel-” she giggled. “But I don’t think I can really tell what it is that they were meant to take away from the story. I’m a big believer that different aspects affect everyone in different ways and would feel wrong trying to tell them what the ‘right’ message was. I guess, I just really hope they love my characters,” she added as an afterthought. “I know I do.”
Kelly nodded. This made sense, and she smiled. “Well, I really wish we could stick around and chat more, but I could literally talk with you for hours, and my shop needs me to run it, or characters will get loose. Thank you for stopping by! This was fun. You’re welcome to browse around. Never know what ideas you may get for a story.” Kelly winked as she picked up a few items from the table to put them on shelves.
Kat stood and nodded enthusiastically. “I’d love to have another chat with you sometime, maybe when my second book’s getting close to completion.” She winked. “I’ll let you get back to tending to your…wares. Have a lovely afternoon!”
She returned her hands to her pockets for a third time, not even aware of when she’d taken them out, and wandered off to browse the shelves of Kelly’s shop. She needed to tell her mom about this place, indeed…
Katinka Schneider’s story ‘Devotion’ is the first in the series of ‘The Afflicted Sage:’ is now available online! And Follow her on social media for more updates: