Character Interview: Adam Priestley’s Lazarus Sinclair

Earlier this week, I had the honor of meeting with Adam Priestley to discuss his not yet released novel, ‘Lava Lounge Nights’, which is a blend of many genres—sci-fi, romantic mystery and thriller with a futuristic edge. However, in this interview, I was escorted into the story world of ‘Lava Lounge Nights’ and met, Lazarus Sinclair, one of Adam’s characters. ‘Kelly’ was written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Lazarus’ was written by Adam Priestley.

adam-priestleys-cover

Kelly was woken by the telephone constantly ringing. She rubbed her eyes and looked at the clock. It was 4AM. As she answered the phone, a gruff voice she didn’t recognise greeted her. “Ello darling a car has been arranged to take you to the Lava Lounge Night club, the boss Lazarus Sinclair would like a word. His wife went awol last night and the only person he’s prepared to talk to is you. I hope your not a bleedin’ reporter, I take it your not afraid of flying!”

Kelly barely had time to get dressed before there was a knock at the door. She opened the door to a blanket of white. It had been constantly snowing all night. A stranger in a sharp suit and a scar down his left cheek ushered her into the back of a stretched Rolls Royce. She held on tightly. Kelly heard the noise of the hover jets roar to life as the car took off into the night sky.

Kelly was quickly ushered into the club straight up past the punters. A cat like singer on the stage eyed Kelly suspiciously. Kelly’s eyes set on the mighty Sagosian Taunogh standing guard outside of Lazarus’ office. His stag like antlers almost scraping the ceiling. He bellowed down his nose as he saw her approach.

“It’s alright, Tauny.” She heard the gruff voice she recognised from her phone call. “This is Miss Blanchard. Mr Sinclair is expecting her.” Taunogh stood aside to allow Kelly access into the room.

Lazarus sat at his desk looking at a locket as saw the door open he quickly put it back in his pocket. He looked up and smiled as he saw Kelly enter. He steepled his hands in front of him. “Ah, Miss Blanchard. I am so pleased you could make it.”

Kelly greeted him with a nod. “Thank you for the invite. A little more notice would have been nice, but I work with what I get.” She smiled at him then glimpsed around the office. “It’s quite a place you have here. How long have you been running this business?” She raised her brows as she glanced back at Lazarus.

Lazarus smiled. He stared straight at her with his piercing blue eyes. “I’m sorry where are my manners.” He stood up to shake her hands. “My boys can be a little over zealous. i just needed to talk to you. You see I need someone I can confide in, there’s a lot going on at the moment and I need someone outside of the picture i can rely on.” He gestured to the chair in front of his desk. “Please sit down, would you care fior a drink?” He paused for a moment, the muscle in his jaw clenched. “Ah yes you wanted to know how long the Lava Lounge has been mine. Now let me think was it before Italy or after, yes, yes that was it. We, that is Angelica and myself took over the club in 2073 just before little Aaron was born.” He glanced at the holographic picture of his eldest son Aaron sitting on his grandmothers knee and smiled.

Kelly sat when he offered the chair, but she declined the offer for a drink. She nodded when she heard his answer, but the first part of his response had caught her attention. “What sort of things did you need to confide in someone?” She furrowed her brows.

Lazarus sat back down in his chair, pulled open the desk drawer and took out a tumbler of Rybekian brandy. As the dark red contents splashed into the glass, silver sparkles swirled in the light. “All this.” he sighed. “It’s been all over the holovids. My wife angelica disappeared last night.” He started to ramble, the words just falling out of his mouth. “My lovely, gorgeous wife. Some one  just took her, someone.” A hard lump started to form at the back of his throat and he struggled to continue.

Kelly tilted her head to a side as she observed his emotion of the situation. “And yet I understand you were with a mystery blonde last night. Is it an understanding between you and your wife that you have such…entertainment on the side? Or is this unique to last night?”

“Who told you that!” he snapped. “Nothing happened, we’re just friends. I loved….” He stuttered and corrected himself. “I love my wife dearly I would never do anything to hurt her, you have to believe me. I asked you here Kelly because I, I need someone to believe me.”

“Lazarus, let me explain to you how this works…” Kelly leaned forward and locked eyes with him. “Whether or not I believe you is irrelevant, but I do believe that you believe you are right, and I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to make you think, and some of the things you think about and realize might not be something you like, but it’ll be the truth. And the good thing about me is, after today you won’t see or hear from me again, and I won’t be spreading any rumors about you at all. I won’t speak a word of this conversation to anyone, so you can trust me, but I need you to trust me.” She made sure she had his attention before continuing. “You don’t love your wife anymore. I caught the use of past tense a moment ago. When did that change?”

Lazarus stood up and walked to the window, he gazed up at the stars through the glass doors of his office leading out into the hover car parking lot. He sighed heavily, as he glanced back over his shoulder at Kelly. “It’s no that I don’t love her anymore. I will always love her. She is the mother of my children.” He crossed back to his desk and took a big swallow of his drink. The brandy stung the back of his throat. “Okay.” he sighed “So I’ll admit I did have company last night but it’s not what you think and no I can’t name her, it would put her in danger if I did. But I did not kill my wife. You have to understand the stress I’m under at the moment. The club is crawling with filth, all of them certain I have done something.” He paused and glared at her. “Which I did not, no matter what anyone says. I wanted you hear because somebody has to know the truth. The press are going to have a field day with this one. Do you know how many years they have been waiting for me to slip up. Every little thing they are at me like a blood hound trying to get the big scoop and why because I’m a little bit more successful than some.” He sat back down, heavy in his chair. “Do you want to know the real reason i used past tense?” Not really giving her time to answer he fixed her in his sights with his penetrating blue eyes.”Well?”

“Why did you use the past tense?” Kelly raised her brows but listened.

Lazarus sighed, not for the first time that day. He ran his hans through his hair, desperate to have something to do with herself. “Because I think she was murdered, and I think I know who did it!”

Kelly wasn’t surprised by this because he specifically said that he hadn’t killed her, and until that moment Kelly only thought she had been missing. Nevertheless, she nodded and continued to listen. “First of all, why do you think she was murdered?”

“The only possible reason.” He breathed down through his nose. He thought everybody would know. It just made sense to him.  “To get at me. Why else would anybody just grab a mother of two. When the police have had enough of torturing the innocent they’ll realise the same thing.”

“And what has happened to the children? I understand they were with her when she was taken.” Kelly watched him. “Are they home now?”

“No.” Lazarus looked away. “As the police suspect that I am guilty of murdering their mother. They have been taken into overnight care. They said something about safe guarding. What do they need to guard them from. I’m their father.”

Kelly nodded when she heard this. “And you said you believe you know who is responsible? Who might that be?”

“Thank you, that’s the question I’ve been waiting for someone to ask all day. The person, in fact the only person the police should be talking to right now is.”

The doors to Lazarus’ office suddenly hissed open and Lazarus twin sister, Lydia, walked in. Kelly noticed how identical they actually were, despite the obvious gender difference. They both had the same jet black, hair, mesmerizing blue eyes and thin aquiline nose, That on Lydia reminded Kelly of Audrey Hepburn. “I heard we had company.” Lydia said as she entered the room. She glared at Kelly as she walked across to the desk. She picked up the bottle of Rybekina Brandy. “Bruv, are you drinking again. You know how lethal that stuff is.” She turned to look at Kelly, sizing her up, glaring deep into her eyes, trying to psyche her out. “So who do we have here?”

Kelly just met Lydia’s eyes unbothered, and she even offered her a smile. “Hello, Lydia. I’m Kelly, and your brother was just about to tell me who he thinks supposedly killed his wife.”

“Was he now? Let me guess–Hartman.” She snorted. “You’re going to have to forgive him he thinks everything that goes wrong in his life is Wolfric ‘bleedin’ Hartman.

“If you don’t mind, I would like to hear it from your brother.” Kelly shifted her attention to Lazarus. As long as Lydia didn’t keep interjecting into the conversation, she didn’t mind her presence, but if she started answering the questions and such, Kelly would have to ask her to leave, but she understood the siblings were close.

Lazarus glared at his sister. “What do you want, Lyds, I was hoping for a private conversation.”

Lydia shrugged. “I’m trying to look after you bruv, you know what your like letting everyone in on all the dirty little secrets in your life. Do we even know who this Kelly is, I don’t know her from Eve.”

“Kelly is a friend of mine. Now if you don’t mind I’d like to talk to her alone.”

Lydia glared at him. “No bleedin chance, you’ve got cops all over the place down there and your up here having a nice cosy little chat with her.” She glanced over her shoulder at Kelly, who just shrugged and smiled.

“And yes, Lyds, yes, I do think Hartman killed Angelica. If you don’t mind I’d like to talk to Kelly for a while alone. Now get out.” Lazarus stared at Lydia. “Or I’ll have to get security in here to chuck you out.”

“Fine. but you just watch what your saying and don’t keep drinking that stuff you know you can’t control your moth when your on that muck.” Lydia gave Kelly a dirty look as she left the room. As she got to the door. “Brothers.”

As Lydia left the room Lazarus turned his attention back to Kelly. “Sorry about that, now where were we?”

Kelly nodded. She understood siblings all too well. “Hartman. I understand he’s been a rival of yours for a long time. Why would he take the chance to kill your wife?”

Lazarus sighed heavily and then looked up at Kelly. “Because it’s him, because he can.” He shook his head and reached for the bottle of brandy picking it up. He looked at it before deciding to put it down. “Me and Wolfric go years back, hell, we once even worked together once. Well for his dad anyway. It all used to be hunky dory, we’d hit a few securicor vans, split the dosh and go on our merry ways. then she came on to the scene.” He smiled as fond memories came into his head. “You know whatever he says she was mine first.”

“Sounds reasonable, but…too easy.” Kelly shook her head. “Yes, I know you two have a feud, and I’m sure both of you would like to possibly put the other in the ground—or out of business—but still, I say it’s too easy. You’re the obvious target for your wife’s death, and people would expect you to blame him. As I said, too easy.” Kelly sat back in her chair. “I’m not saying he didn’t have a hand in it, but…I think it’s more complicated than that. Think harder. Think back to the last time you saw your wife, and the last interaction you had with her. Did she let on to anything? Did she seem uneasy about something or someone?” Kelly felt more like a detective than an interviewer, but that was all right. If it opened him up and got her answers as well as possibly brought a bit of peace to him, she was okay with that.

Lazarus sat still for a moment, quietly contemplating what Kelly had just said. “She was at her parents all last week and what with running this place we didn’t really have that much contact. To be honest I didn’t even know she was back in the country until the Police rang. It all came as such a surprise. The only thing I do remember is that before she left she was banging on about some diamonds, called the Kadam stones or something. To be honest I thought she was just dropping hints as to what she wanted for Christmas presents.” He ran his hand shakily through his hair, thinking again. “You do know her mother hates me right. Whether she had an argument with her parents i don’t know but I wouldn’t trust her father as far as I could throw him.”

“I doubt either of her parents would kill their own daughter to get to you. There are other ways to hurt you than killing her.” Kelly pointed out then rose to her feet. “You don’t mind if I meander about, do you? Helps me think.” And she began moving around the room, looking at different things. “These diamonds though…that sounds like a lead. Have you looked into that?” She turned back to Lazarus with raised brows.

“No, like I said I just thought she was trying to give me an idea about what she wanted for Christmas.” He turned to look at her. “Feel free to have a good nosey around, Christ everybody else whose come in here today had. Why should you be the exception?” He looked absentmindedly out of the window again. “I wouldn’t rule her father out though. He’s no saint. Have I told you he once asked me to shoot somebody for him.”

Kelly wasn’t walking around to be nosy. To be honest, her mind wasn’t on what she was seeing but whether many other possibilities. “You think he would have killed his own daughter?”

“Christ, there was rumours he killed his own mother.” He looked at her with a straight poker face. “The thing you need to know about Roberto Accorsi is that he plays from his own rule book and boy does that one hold a grudge. Like I said he once asked me to shoot somebody for him. A business rival I think. I told him straight to forget it. Despite what anybody says i’m not a gangster.”

Kelly turned to look straight at him. “Have you killed anyone before? I’m not asking because I think you’re guilty of this, but depending your answer, I want to make a specific point.”

Lazarus shrugged. “What can I say stuff happens, but I’ve never killed anybody who didn’t deserve it.”

“Now, with that in mind, would you be able to kill your own children just to hurt someone you don’t like?” Kelly locked eyes with Lazarus.

Lazarus looked stunned. “No of course not.” Lazarus laughed. “I see what your driving at but hell I’m not Accorsi.”

“I’m not saying he’s not innocent. I’m merely giving you a different angle to look at. You can’t just pin it on someone you think is guilty.  You need to have people out there digging and trying to find the truth because right now, everyone thinks you’re responsible, so they’re not going to look any further than that.” Kelly stepped up to Lazarus. “But at the same time, you can’t control this to paint the target on someone else’s back. If you want to catch her killer, I suggest your people find the crime scene and work from there. Of course, if the whereabouts of that is unknown, someone needs to go to her last known location and backtrack her every movement. Have you done that yet?”

“That’s the police’s job, but I promise you I’m not exactly going to sit back and let them pin this on me darling, but what can I do I’m just a man in a sharp suit.” He poured himself a large glass of brandy. “You sure you don’t want one?”

“You may be a man in a sharp suit, but you have people, don’t you? Because, like you said, you’re not the kind of man to just sit back. It might be the police’s job, but how much do you trust them–really?” She raised her brows as a small smile tugged at the corner of her lips. “I’m sure they’d just love to put you away, so who’s to say they’re investigating wholeheartedly? Who’s to say they want the truth? Who’s to say they care about it? But you do, don’t you? You want to know what happened to the mother of your children, and you would like to see the person responsible for it punished. So…use your resources.” Then Kelly shrugged as she came around a chair and sat down once more. “That’s my suggestion anyway, but I’m really not here for the investigation. I’m here to discuss you. You said you have children. Tell me about them. What are they like?”

Outside of the room Eddie the gruff voiced man was stood outside of Lazarus office, trying to listen in on the conversation. When the cat like singer sashayed across the room towards him. Her amber eyes sparkled. “Darling, I never had you down as a gossip.”

“I’m not.” Eddie flushed. “But what’s going on in there? First Angelica goes missing, which I’m still not sure she just didn’t run off with another man.”

The cat like Singer glared at him, “Angelica wouldn’t do that. Then the place is crawling with cops adamant that he’s guilty as sin. Then he secludes himself with some mystery girl. I don’t like it I don’t like it one little bit.”

Inside the office, Lazarus smiled. “Oh honey don’t worry I’m not just going to sit here, curl over and die. I just don’t want to get you implicated in all of that.” He shuffled nervously in his seat. “I purely asked you here so that I could give you my side of events. To answer your question about my family. i couldn’t wish for better. I notice you keep looking at your watch when you ready to leave you can, say the word and I’ll have my guys drop you back home or anywhere else you’d like.”

“I have a few more minutes, but yes, I will be having to leave soon.” She smiled and nodded. “But answer me this, Lazarus…is there anything in your life that you would have changed if you could? That you would have done differently?”

“Never let my wife out of my sight.” He sighed. “My poor boys having to grow up without their mother.” He looked down at his glass. “You know what i really don’t need this.” He picked up the glass, walked to the widow and threw it out into the cold night. “I really do appreciate you giving me these two hours.” He said glancing over his shoulder at Kelly. “Especially when everybody else think I’m as guilty as hell. I promise you one thing Kelly I’m innocent and my boys are not going to grow up without their father.” Kelly smiled as she left the room, as she opened the door she almost tripped over Eddie who was still trying to eavesdrop. “Ah Eddie.” Lazarus smiled. “Please be a good chap and make sure Miss Blanchard gets home safely, won’t you?”

“Sure boss.” Eddie grunted.

“Goodbye, Kelly, and thank you.”

Kelly watched as the doors hissed shut behind her, leaving Lazarus alone in the confines of his office.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Adam Priestley’s novel, ‘Lava Lounge Nights’, is not yet published, but there is a taster chapter of Adam’s forthcoming story available on Wattpad: www.wattpad.com/story/85092855-lava-lounge-nights.

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Author Interview: Adam Priestley

I had the honor of meeting with Adam Priestley to discuss his not yet released novel, ‘Lava Lounge Nights’, which is a blend of many genres—sci-fi, romantic mystery and thriller with a futuristic edge. In this interview, I sat down to get to know the author behind the story. ‘Kelly’ was written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Adam’ was written by Adam Priestley.

adam-priestleys-cover

Kelly ran through the rain to the coffee shop, and she let herself sigh in relief once she was out of the rain and in the warm confines of the shop. Maybe by the time her interview actually began it would have stopped raining, but for now she stepped inside and up to the counter, ordering hot chocolate to ward off the cold of the rain.

Once she got her drink, she went to a table near the front windows of the shop and sat down facing the door. Here she could watch people, and watching them run through the rain was always entertaining, but she was watching for a specific individual.

Adam opened the door of the taxi cab and stepped out onto the high street in front of the coffee shop. Typical it was raining, and he had left his umbrella at home on the side of the sofa where he had discarded it last time.

The rain was coming down so hard he would be drenched by the time he was inside. He could see the girl he was meeting, sitting waiting patiently for him. He started to walk towards her and then froze as his nerves got the better of him.

Telling himself off, he looked across at her and smiled. Plucking up the courage he opened the door and went inside. As soon as he opened the door he was met by the welcoming, tantalising smell of coffee and pastries. He resisted the urge to go get himself a drink and walked straight towards kelly. “Hi.” he smiled, nervously. “Hope you haven’t been waiting long?” 

Kelly shook her head as she rose to her feet to greet him. She reached out her hand to him. “Adam, it’s great to meet you. I haven’t been waiting here at all. If you’d like to get something to drink, go ahead and then you may join me here.” She motioned to the table and smiled at him.

“Thanks” he said accepting her hand, he smiled. “I see you’ve already got a drink so I’ll get you your next one. I’ll just be a sec.” Adam walked to the counter, thankfully there was only a small que. As he waited he glanced over his shoulder at Kelly and smiled again. He hadn’t done anything like this before. He ordered a traditional cappuccino, no chocolate sprinkles as he was watching his weight and walked back towards Kelly. He buzzed with excitement ready to begin the interview.

Once Adam returned and sat down, Kelly smiled at him. “So, tell me a bit about yourself. I know you’re a writer, but do you have a job other than that? I find writers come from all walks of life, and it’s quite interesting.”

“Yeah I do. It’s not that exciting, certainly not what I trained at university for but it pays the bills and I’ve met some good friends along the way. I’m what the company calls a key operative, others call the position a charge hand. At a meat factory, specialising in hams.

Kelly nodded when she heard this. “Well, writers do what they have to to make ends meet, don’t we? Definitely not what we likely went to university for, but as you say, it pays the bills.” She took a sip of her drink before continuing with a smile. “So, when did you first become interested in writing?”

Adam smiled as fond memories circulated in his head. “I think my interest started at a very early age I would always have my nose in a book as a youngster and used to love playing out my own scenes from the books. But my best memory was when I was seven and as part of a school production I had to read out one of my stories called Turkeys Revenge.” He let out a blissful chuckle at the memory. “It was about Turkeys who decided they weren’t going to be eaten for Christmas and attacked the farmer. The audience loved it and even to this day if I go back to the village I grew up in some of the old residents always talk to me about it. At secondary school there was a bot of a lull as I set my heart on becoming an actor. This is what I dreamed of being and went away to study at university.”

“You wanted to become an actor?” Kelly lifted her brows. “That’s pretty awesome! If you had the choice between writing and acting, which would you choose? I know, unfair question, but still…” She shrugged and smiled at him.

“N,o it isn’t as they were part and parcel of the same thing. I used to write a lot of my own material. I was in a production of Scrooge as Scrooge and I even played Snow White in an off beat comedy.” He smiled. “But this isn’t really answering your question. If you had asked me ten years ago I would have said an actor, but these days I much more prefer creating the characters and learning about them.” He shrugged. ” I think maybe when i am writing I am actually acting all of the characters.”

“And as a writer, you have the ability to be all the characters at once whereas with an actor you’re limited to one or two characters,” Kelly pointed out. “But what made the shift in you from acting to writing? Why did you change your mind?”

“To be truly honest. I really haven’t got a clue.” He laughed. “I think its time when I started working where I am ten years ago i was still involved with my local ma dram group trying to get them to put on one of my plays. then I started working at the factory where I have to get up at 4 every morning, and it was like if I can’t have the time to be an actor, I’m going to focus on my books and enrolled on an open learning course.”

Kelly nodded as she listened to this. “It sounds quite grilling, but you found your way back to writing.” She smiled at him as she leaned back in her chair, getting comfortable. “So, tell me about your writing. We can only discuss one story at this time, but you get to pick! I’d love to hear it.” She grinned at him because she loved hearing the new stories every writer had, and she knew they loved those stories with all their beings. That made her happy.

“Well,” he smiled, “That’s easy it would have to be Lava Lounge Nights. This has kind of grown out of the play I was trying to get my old am dram group to produce.” He loved talking about this story. It had been with him for a very long time and although it had evolved to him it was still the same thing. “It’s set in the future and about a night club caught in the middle of a turf war between two rival families. In the play version there was going to be this whole Romeo and Juliette style thing but as it’s evolved that kind of now feels so cliche.”

“This sounds very intriguing.” Kelly leaned forward, setting her elbow on the table and her chin in the palm of her hand. “So, who are the major players in this story?”

“Lazarus Sinclair, is the owner and he’s been with it every step of the way, although in the present version he has become a lot younger. He’s the eldest son in the main gangster family.” Adam took a swallow of his coffee, and Kelly smiled as it left a foam mustache.

Kelly motioned to his mouth, indicating to the foam, but she smiled nonetheless. “Okay, you have Lazarus, but who else?”

Adam flushed with embarrassment before wiping his face. “Then there is his wife Angelica, who is hiding some dark, mysterious secret and has been forced to make a late night runner from her parents house. She hates herself for dragging her kids on a red eye flight full off drunks and undesirables but she feels as though her hand has been forced. Through the whole journey she is feeling uneasy as though she is being watched. After she lands in the car park she is suddenly abducted by masked men.”

Kelly arched her brows when she heard this. “And I suppose you can’t tell me what happens to her, eh?” She gave him a look but then smiled as she sat back in her chair. “Guess I’ll just have to read the book! So, what inspired this story idea? You mentioned it was a play of your originally which has evolved since then, but what gave you the idea for the story?”

“I think I wanted to create a sci-fi that didn’t have the stigma of only being for sci-fi fans Lava Lounge Nights has a bit in it for everyone. From romance to aliens. I think the main inspiration comes from mixing together everything I like but also with scifi there are no barriers. One last character I really ought to tell you about is is Lydia, Lazarus Sinclairs twin sister. Like the Krays one is more damaged and prone to violent outbursts. In Lava Lounge this is Lydia. When we are first introduced to her she is in the middle of a bar fight.”

Adam looked at his watch he was enjoying this, there was so much more to tell but the real world outside wanted their characters back. “Sorry Kelly, I’m going to have to go, but I really have enjoyed this, maybe another time.”

“No problem! Thanks for meeting with me and showing me a bit of your world.” Kelly smiled as she rose to her feet. “I need to get going anyway, but I can’t wait to meet whichever character you’ll have me meet.”

<~>~<~>~<~>

Adam Priestley’s novel, ‘Lava Lounge Nights’, is not yet published, but there is a taster chapter of Adam’s forthcoming story available on Wattpad: www.wattpad.com/story/85092855-lava-lounge-nights.

Author Interview: Margo Upson

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Margo was written by Margo Upson.)

Kelly sat on the ground with her back to a tree and a notebook in her hands as she scribbled down idea. The soothing sound of the nearby stream calmed her, and the peaceful silence of this garden washed over her refreshingly. Ideas always came to Kelly when she had time to think.

However, she heard footsteps on the beaten path, so she finished the sentence, closed the notebook, and rose to her feet just as a woman came around the bend in the path. Kelly smiled at her. “Margo Upson?” She approached her, reaching out her hand to shake Margo’s. “I’m Kelly Blanchard. A pleasure to meet you. I trust you are well today?”

“Very well, thank you. And yourself?” Margo inquired, nervously tugging at her shirt.

“I’m quite well. Thank you.” Kelly smiled warmly then gestured to the garden paths.  “Shall we walk?” As they began strolling down a beaten path, Kelly glanced Margo’s way. “So tell me about yourself. What do you do in real life? How did you get to where you are now?”

Margo paused to watch a butterfly circle around and past them. “Oh, I should have brought my camera,” she said, mostly to herself, before turning back to answer Kelly’s question. “I work as a freelance writer and marketing assistant, which basically means I do everything from blog posts and social media to designing print ads. There are never two days the same! I started as a freelance writer, and got into the marketing side of things almost by accident, but I love it.”

“Ah, both marketing and freelance writing are difficult, but I’m glad you enjoy it!” Kelly smiled widely at her then watched as birds flew from some trees before turning her attention back to Margo. “How did you get into writing though? Have you always been a writer?”

“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing something, whether it was something on my own or a shared story with a couple of friends, and I’ve always had an overabundance of imagination I grew up in the middle of nowhere, so I spent my days acting out daring adventures in the woods behind my house.” She paused, grinning as she mimicked a few swipes with an invisible sword. “I could spend all day, lost in my head. I never saw it as more than a hobby, though. I didn’t dream about growing up to be a famous writer; I just wanted to write! It wasn’t until the last few years that I started looking at my writing as something that I wanted to share with others.”

“And what sparked the change? From a hobby to something you wanted to share with others?” Kelly furrowed her brows then motioned for Margo to follow her off the well-beaten path down a less beaten path through the woods to a beautiful shaded clearing in the woods where there were benches near the crystal-clear stream. “We can sit here if you’d like.”

“Oh, this is gorgeous,” Margo said, as she sat down on one of the benches. She dipped her toes into the water and thought a moment. “I don’t know if there was any one thing. I had gotten so used to writing as a hobby, and by that time, I also had two young daughters, so taking the time to dedicate to writing ‘for real’ was not only hard to fit into my schedule, it was also really scary. Around this same time, I met a group of other creative artists, and I began interacting with more writers through NaNoWriMo. I think seeing the way everyone else was dedicated to sharing their art really inspired me to go for it, too, even if I did have to fight with myself, and my own insecurities, a bit at the start.”

Kelly smiled when she heard this. “I’m glad you’ve made it more a hobby—especially with having two daughters! That’s quite a feat.” She lowered to sit on the bench beside Margo and sighed at the peacefulness of their surroundings. Glancing back at Margo, she asked, “So what do you write? What story of yours would you like to discuss?”

Margo laughed. “Thank you. And that’s a good question. I’m still trying to figure out how to describe it. I write historical fiction with romance and paranormal elements added in. Right now, I’m working on a novel called Grisamore. It’s about a historic preservationist named Emma. She buys an old home on a Civil War battlefield in Tennessee, hoping to restore it and then sell it so she can open her own firm.” She shrugged, and turned to Kelly with a conspiratorial smile. “Once she moves in, though, she finds that the house comes with one very big surprise.”

“Like…a ghost surprise or what exactly?” Kelly raised her brows, watching Margo. “Or can you not tell me without spoiling the story?” She was sensitive and aware of that, but she was very curious to hear more of the story.

Margo shrugged. “I can give you a few details without giving too much away. Yes, it’s haunted by the ghost of Captain Ben Alderson. He’s going to give Emma some problems. She spends the first few chapters convinced that there are raccoons living in the attic.” Margo watched a couple of small fish swim past in the stream, quickly pulling her feet back out when one got too close.

Kelly smiled. “Oh, this sounds like a fun story! What inspired you to write this story though?” She asked, leaning forward so she could look at the fish in the stream.

“I’ve always loved history. Not the textbook, facts-and-figures version, but the lives of everyday people during major historical events. There are always stories there. People don’t stop living their lives just because of war.” She paused for a moment. “I started Grisamore with Ben. I could see this man, this soldier, who had been standing guard over this property for 150 years, just waiting for something. And it took years of me taking out the story every year or so, trying to understand his story, for me to figure it out. Once I did, everything else fell into place.”

A grin crossed Kelly’s face as she heard this, and she pulled back, casting Margo a look. “That’s encouraging actually–that it took you years to figure out the story before actually writing it. Most writers think they need the story now, but that’s not how all stories come. I’m glad you stuck with it though and that it finally came to you.” She nodded, smiling at Margo, but then she glanced up at the sky and sighed. “Our time’s about up, so we should be heading back.” She rose to her feet to guide the way. “But what would you like your readers to take from your story? What would you like them to remember most about the story once they read it?” And she listened as they began walking back down the path.

“Yes! I’d hate for an author to get discouraged because they think they need all of the answers all at once. Storytelling is a process, and some stories take longer to tell.” Margo turned back for a last glance at the clearing and nearly tripped over a root in the path. Quickly righting herself, she turned her thoughts back to Kelly’s question. “That’s tough. I think I want my readers to close the book with a smile on their face. I also want them to have a better appreciation for some of the amazing history we have in our own communities. There are some amazing stories in our pasts if we take the time to look for them.”

“History is always intriguing and full of wonderful stories–and lessons–if we just look at it.” Kelly nodded in agreement, and they finally came to the more worn path. “I’m glad you came here to chat. It was really great meeting with you and hearing about you and your story. I hope you the very best with it all. Writing historical fiction isn’t an easy task, but it’s worth it.” Kelly smiled. “Come, I’ll show you the way out.”

<~>~<~>~<~>

Margo Upson’s novel, ‘Grisamore’, is due to be released sometime late 2016. Be sure to follow her on social media to be kept up-to-date on all her progress!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MargoUpson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMargoUpson/

Character Interview: Jenna Bowman’s Taerwyn

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Taerwyn was written by Jenna Bowman.)

The sun hung low in the sky over the mountains as Taerwyn leaned on the stone railing of the terrace, staring out over the valley of endless spring at Sanctuary.   Things were quiet this summer evening, although the breeze picked up in a way that suggested storms outside the valley and the timeless castle housed within the mountainous walls.  At the bottom of the valley, the ancient lake glowed with the familiar, faint violet light Taerwyn had become accustomed to in her time training here.  She could feel the power that infused the water even from here, the cradle of magic in a post-Catastrophe world. 

She glanced over her shoulder, waiting for the sound of footsteps on the flagstone tiles of the veranda, or any other sign that her unusual guest had arrived.  She’d been pleasantly surprised to learn she had been chosen for the encounter, but now she felt nervous.  She fiddled with the sash that held her violet robes shut, letting a finger trace over each ray of the silver sun on her belt buckle.  She wondered what her Goddess would think of all of this, and a half-smile rose to her lips. 

No doubt she would have a chance to find out soon.

Kelly approached with quiet footsteps and took the opportunity to observe Taerwyn as she drew near. She recognized the signs of nervousness—something she often saw when meeting people for these interviews, but she was determined to put her at ease as soon as she could. “Taerwyn?” She spoke once she came into hearing range. Once the woman looked at her, Kelly smiled warmly. “Hi, I’m Kelly. I believe you’re expecting me.” She stretched a hand out to shake hers. “How are you doing today?”

Taerwyn turned at the sound of footsteps approaching, and as she heard her name.  A warm smile spread across her face, green eyes lighting up a little.  Uneasy or not, she was endlessly curious and determined not to let her nerves get the best of her.

She took Kelly’s offered hand in a firm grasp, calluses suggesting that she had been training with some sort of weapon.   “I am expecting you, yes.  It’s good to meet you.”   She released Kelly’s hand, and gestured toward a simple wooden table a little further down the veranda, where a bowl of fruit and two cups of water waited.  “I’m quite well tonight, thank you.  How about yourself?  Would you like to have a seat?”

“Sure. Thank you.” Kelly smiled as they walked over and took a seat.She took the offered cup of water and drank a sip—finding it refreshing, and then she set the cup down and smiled at Taerwyn. “So, tell me about yourself. What is it that you do exactly?”

Taerwyn took the seat across the table, and laughed, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.  “Well, what I do is train here endlessly, day after day.  This place, Sanctuary, is where my order keeps its headquarters.  The Virtuous Sisters of the Unfailing Light.”  She picked up a round green fruit that smelled sweet and spicy, but more to fidget with it and keep her hands busy than to take a bite. “We are the daughters of Mother Sun, the guardians of this place and the artifacts it hides beneath the lake.  Not that I’ve ever seen them in person, but that is what we are.”  She gestured down at her violet robes.   “I’m near the end of my training.  I don’t know if you saw any of the others on your way in, but those in lavender are the initiates, and the women wearing indigo are full Sisters.   I hope to be getting my indigo robes soon.”  She laughed quietly. “But who knows what will happen between now and then.”

Kelly furrowed her brows as she listened to all this. It was quite intriguing. “So you’re guardians of this place and the artifacts. What so special about it all?” She looked around.

Taerwyn continued to roll the fruit in her palms idly, and thought for a moment.  There were many special things about Sanctuary, and distilling the whole of what it was into only a few words might be difficult. 

“Well, I think what is most special about this place is that all the women here share a common ancestor.  The first Matriarch, Siburna.  It’s her blood that was blessed by Mother Sun, our dear goddess, with the power to protect the weapon of the gods buried beneath the lake.”  She frowned slightly.  Usually she wouldn’t be so forthcoming about the lake’s secrets, but she had been informed that the circumstances of Kelly’s visit were unique. “Because it is in the blood, we occasionally get men here as well, although they are rare.” 

She couldn’t help the tiny little smile that rose on her lips at the thought of one such man she knew, but she quickly moved on. “We stand in reserve to prevent another cataclysm like the one that nearly destroyed our world hundreds and hundreds of years ago.   His highness thinks that it could threaten again in our lifetimes, but I sort of hope that isn’t the case.”  Okay, so maybe moving on had been an overstatement.

Kelly caught the small smile that Taerwyn had when she mentioned men, and Kelly suspected something was there, but first she wanted to address something else. “Why does this…king—prince?—think it’ll happen in your lifetime? Are there signs that something bad is going to happen?” She furrowed her brows as she sat back in her chair watching Taerwyn.

“Prince Thorven.  He’s descended from the blood of the Matriarch, too.  Well, technically, from Siburna’s brother.” She frowned slightly, glancing out over the lake, and took in the sunset with a long breath in and out. “He serves both Sun and Moon, as both Sister, well, Brother in this case, and paladin.  As I aspire to be someday myself.  But he is…different.  The gods have seen fight to grant him with the rare gifts of a Seer.  He keeps telling those of us who have been close to him, such as my father, that the storm is coming.   And war seems inevitable in the north, and soon.  And I have been having dreams that leave me troubled.”

She smiled softly, although the twist of her mouth suggested an old, tired level of bitterness.  “My mother was a Sister before me, and also a Seer.  She trained Thorven.  I’m not sure what I wouldn’t give to have her with me now to offer some insights there, but she was taken in a raid when I was eight, and I’m sure she is long dead.”

“I’m sorry.” Kelly lowered her gaze but then selected her next question. “And if there is a war, if there is trouble, what happens then?”

Taerwyn shook her head with a smile.  “It was a long time ago.”  And her father had done a fine job of raising her and her brother at the fortress of Gray Mountain Hold.   The question, of course, made her think of her home.  “If there is outright war rather than the usual tension along the border, then my home in the north will suffer.  But I think, if the things Thorven is saying are to be believed, that war is just a symptom of the deeper problem.  The cataclysm of before happened because an arrogant soul not only sought to usurp the power of a dark god, but figured out a way to do it.  Thorven believes that another may make a similar attempt soon, although whatever  signs he is seeing are not visible to me.”  She let the fruit roll off her fingers and back into the bowl as she leaned forward, elbows on the table.  “But even though I do not see the signs, I feel the way that the world holds its breath.  I feel it in the way that the light seems a little thinner sometimes, a little weaker.  The way that my nightmares leave me anxious, even when I cannot remember them.”  She chuckled again quietly, although this time the sound held little warmth. “It is for these reasons that I am determined to follow a path different than the one my father might have imagined for me.  Even if I am quite fond of my betrothed.”

This thoroughly confused Kelly. “Okay wait—what path does your father have planned for you? And who is this betrothed? And what are you planning exactly?” She shifted to the edge of her seat, setting her elbows on the table and her chin in her palm as she listened closely.

Taerwyn laughed and leaned back in her chair a little. “Well, it’s the stuff that they write stories about.  A lord has it in his head that he must marry his daughter off to strengthen political alliances, and she’s not allowed to become a warrior because of that.”  The grin remained on her lips as she continued.  “I was able to convince him that I had a duty to become a Sister, because those with the blood are rare enough as it is, and fewer still have what it takes to become a conduit for the Goddess.  My mother was a Sister before me, and would have wanted it for me.  But for myself, I have always wished to become a paladin like my father and so many others in my life, to serve Father Moon in the protection of my people.” A smirk replaced the grin. “My betrothed, Mikael, is a friend from my childhood, and my brother’s best friend.  He is a paladin himself.  I do not think my father knows that Mikael fully supports my ambitions.” She laughed again, clearly amused by this idea.  “I am in no hurry to get married, but if it is going to be forced on me, there are far worse partners who could be arranged.”

Kelly nodded, understanding a bit more. “So, do you love this Mikael fellow? Or is there another who’s caught your eye?”

The blush that crept across Taerwyn’s cheeks no doubt told the entire story there. “I do love him.  I have known him since we were young, and even if we were not betrothed, I would still love him as a brother.  He is a good and honorable man.  I believe that Thorven would like to recruit him as well, one of these days.” She shook her head as she spoke of the prince.  She had thought, when she was younger and didn’t know better, that she would like to be a princess, but he was so devoted to his work, and to his cause.  There was no room for romance in his life.

Kelly caught something. “Ah.” She nodded as she sat back. “You’d love him like a brother. That is not the kind of love you bring into a marriage, so you don’t truly love him as you would a husband. There’s someone else. Thorven perhaps?” She raised her brows but saw the way Taerwyn averted her gaze, and Kelly smiled. “Ah, so it is, but you don’t think it’s possible, do you?”

Taerwyn shook her head again, although her smile returned, albeit a bit softened. “Please don’t misunderstand.  I feel I am quite capable of loving Mikael as a husband as well.  We are good partners, and chosen family already, and waiting for romance alone is not a luxury that is granted to the daughters of noblemen.” She shrugged, a nostalgic, distant look in her eyes for a moment before they focused again on Kelly with another smile. “No, any desire I had for Thorven was the ambition of youth and infatuation with a man whose strength and skill and dedication I have always admired.  It was never a mature love.”

“I can understand and respect that, but…” Kelly gave her a sidelong glance as she pulled back with a nod. “I know how these things go.” She smiled, but then she had to ask, “And did he love you? Did he notice you?”

Taerwyn let the subject drop, preferring to focus on the questions more than the implications. “He noticed me, yes.  My father was one of his instructors at the academy where the paladins train, and they have been good friends ever since.  So I have known Thorven for a good part of my life, as I have Mikael.  But the notice he took of me always felt more like that of an older brother or a mentor.”  She frowned slightly.  “He is always careful to keep his heart to himself.  I think he believes that if he allowed anyone in, with the storm he keeps saying is coming, that they would get hurt, or the enemy might attempt to use those loved ones against him.”

“Sounds like I need to talk with this Thorven individual.” Kelly thought Taerwyn and he needed couples counseling, but that wasn’t her place. It seemed that Taerwyn was very set in her ways, and Kelly wasn’t sure where to pry, so she went back to her father. “So tell me about your father, about growing up. What’s your favorite memory?”

“He would certainly be able to explain more about the threats he sees than I can.” Taerwyn grinned, a slightly rebellious and amused look in green eyes as she knew that wasn’t quite what Kelly meant.  And given her next words, she no doubt came by the traits honestly. “My father is a good man, if a little stubborn and set in his ways.  He is one of the king’s generals, commanding the northern fortress of Gray Mountain Hold, where I grew up.  He’s well respected in the whole kingdom.” 

But a favorite memory?  That was a lot harder to choose.  Taerwyn frowned slightly as she thought, before settling on something from happier times.  “I think one of my favorite memories is the midwinter before my mother was taken, all four of us sitting in the sunlight coming in through one of the windows and laughing as a family.  I don’t even remember anymore what we were laughing about, only that we were.  He changed after she was gone.  Devoted himself to his work.”

Kelly nodded. “I would ask where you see yourself in five years from now, but since there’s a possible war, I think I know the answer to that. However, answer me this: if a war comes, what will be your role in it?”

Taerwyn pondered the question a moment, brow furrowing thoughtfully. “I think when that war arrives, the role I would choose for myself is to support those I love and lend my strength to theirs.  No matter what it is that they might be doing.  I refuse to stand by and let others fight when I know I can help.”

Kelly nodded. It was good to see this in her, but then she pressed. “And what is your greatest fear?”

Taerwyn smirked, folding her arms as she leaned back in her chair.  “Surprisingly enough, that’s easier to answer.  Failure.  My greatest fear is failing to live up to everything I can be, and failing to reach my goals.  Failing to rise above the pre-determined roles that everyone keeps trying to force me into.”   It was a very personal question, but she’d been forced to confront her fears quite intimately in the course of training to be a Sister.  She knew her fears, and always fought to overcome them.

Kelly noted that she mentioned how others forced her into roles, so she tilted her head to a side. “And if you could be anyone, do anything without others forcing you into roles, what would you do? Who would you be?”

“I would do what I’ve always tried to do, and be what I’ve always tried to be.  The strongest force for good that my heart tells me I can be, in the way that I know I could be best at it.”  She smiled, and a peaceful expression came to her features. “I don’t want much more than that, really.”

Kelly had to smile. “That’s a good answer.” But then she sighed. “Unfortunately, my time here has come to an end.” She rose to her feet. “Thank you for this conversation. It was wonderful to meet you and get to know you. I hope you the very best with all your endeavors.” She smiled at her.

Taerwyn rose to her feet as well, and stretched out her hand to Kelly to offer a farewell handshake.  “It was good to meet you as well.  I hope I was able to answer your questions satisfactorily.”  She smiled warmly again.  “Thank you.  I hope the same for you.”

“It was a lovely visit! Perhaps I’ll be permitted to return for a visit, but for now, I really must go. Thanks again!” Kelly waved at her then stepped away, and as she walked away, a portal opened in front of Kelly, which she stepped into, and then it closed behind.

“I would like that.  We’ll see what time brings, eh?”  Taerwyn watched Kelly go before she picked up that piece of fruit again, and faded into the night nibbling on it.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Jenna Bowman’s story ‘Soldaris Saga’ has no release date set for it yet, but you can follow her on social media for more updates:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/officialjennabowman/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JennaCBowman

Website: www.jennabowman.com

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/JennaCBowman

Author Interview: Jenna Bowman

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Jenna was written by Jenna Bowman.)

Kelly stood on the Bridge of the Nameless with her hands tucked behind her as she stared out to the bluish-green planet before them. She almost felt like Darth Vader, but all that was missing was the hissing-breathing—and a lightsaber. Dismissing this from her mind, Kelly turned to see the activity of the Bridge. Each person was in their station doing their duties, but there was nothing to worry about. This was peace-time, and their captain had gone planet-side for a meeting but allowed Kelly to borrow his ship for her meeting.

A tingling sensation raced through her, and Kelly looked to her right as a portal opened and out stepped a woman who glimpsed around, taking in her surroundings with wide eyes. Kelly smiled—proud of this place—and approached her. “Jenna Bowman? I’m Kelly Blanchard.” She shook her visitor’s hand. “Welcome to the Nameless!” She motioned to their surroundings then gestured at the planet outside the window. “That is Mithkal. The captain of this ship is down there right now meeting with some important officials, but in the meanwhile we have free range of the ship. Care to explore?”

Jenna returned the handshake, and gave Kelly a wide grin.   “The Nameless? Interesting name for a ship.  Now I’m curious about that story.”    

She followed Kelly’s gesture and looked out the window, eyes widening just a little.  “Always dreamed about being in space, but actually being here…”   She let the thought trail off as she looked back to her host, focusing in on the moment.   “I would love to explore.”

“Short version of the story with this ship, technically it’s called ‘The Ship Without a Name’, and people shorten it to ‘Nameless’ because otherwise it’s too long. The Captain just likes to confuse people.” Kelly smirked but then motioned for Jenna to walk beside her as they meandered the lit corridors of the ship, and on the right side was the view of the stars all the way down the corridor. “So, tell me about yourself, Jenna. What is it that you do in real life? Full-time writer? Or do you have another job or so?”

“Sounds like this Captain and I might get along.”  Jenna laughed, falling into step with Kelly at an easy pace.  She tried to keep her view on Kelly, although the stars kept drawing her attention now and again.  “Well, in real life I work for the state services for the blind.  It’s a good job that lets me help people, and the benefits are pretty nice.  Which means that all of my free time gets to go to writing.  Someday I’ll be a full-time writer, but haven’t quite hit that point yet.”

“Okay, that’s interesting, and I have to ask, are any of your characters blind?” Kelly raised her brows but then saw how Jenna kept craning her neck to look at the stars without trying to appear that she was. Kelly smiled and halted near a window and leaned over the railing to stare out into space as she awaited an answer from Jenna.

Jenna gave a sheepish smile as Kelly stopped to let her look out the window, and nodded.  “I actually do have a secondary character whom I’m very fond of who is blind.  The things I’ve learned from work have helped me a lot with her development.  Obviously since she’s in a fantasy setting I’ve had to do some adapting of the techniques, but it’s been a fun adventure.  I like challenging myself with characters that are out of my comfort zone that way.”

Kelly nodded with a smile. “Writing blind characters is very interesting but always worth it. I’m glad you have that in your story.” Then she turned around, so she could lean back against the rail, resting her elbows on it as she observed Jenna. “So, when did you begin writing? What inspired you to write?”

“In my time working with vocational rehab and then now with the blind, I’ve come to find that there really is a need for characters with disabilities of all sorts.  I’m just glad the characters that come into my head are glad to oblige.”  She gave another nod, and looked over at Kelly again.  The look on her face was one of nostalgia, that half-grin and almost distant look.  “I’ve been writing since I was able to put sentences together.  The earliest story I remember making up and telling to other people was a feminist fan fiction of my favorite movie.” She paused a moment to offer silent thanks to her poor mother who had sat patiently through Sleeping Beauty three times a day when she was a child. “I couldn’t stand that Aurora just laid there doing nothing while Philip got to have all the fun, so I switched things around and she went and saved him from Maleficent’s dungeon.” Jenna chuckled quietly. “And then when we were learning about first drafts and final drafts in first grade, it started to occur to me that when I was on the tenth page of my first draft still while my classmates were turning in their two-page final drafts, that maybe I liked writing a little more than most people.”

“That’s awesome! I think we writers always have the advantage over others when it comes to writing papers or such in class.” Kelly chuckled then wagged her head thinking back to her own time back in school. But then she focused on the conversation. “So, you mentioned you’re writing fantasy. What is it about? Have you published anything?”

“Yes.  I love being able to make things come together when I see my classmates working harder all semester.  Although now that I’m finally going back to finish a degree in creative writing, no more slacking!” Jenna laughed and turned to put her back to the stars, for the moment.  “I do write fantasy.  So far I’ve self-published one novella, a bit of a twist on the idea of a virgin sacrifice to a dragon that I think someday I might revisit as a full novel. But my current pet project is more of an epic romantic fantasy.  At the core it’s about a young woman who wants to become a paladin, and the prince who puts his duty to the greater good above all else, and how that brings them into conflict with past lives and present desires while they try to save their world from destruction.  I love the supporting cast, too.  Even my antagonists have me falling in love with them at times.” She grinned again. “I’m a sucker for a good villain, and I know I’m not the only one.”

“Oh, yeah, a good villain is awesome!” Kelly had to smirk, thinking of all the antagonists she interviewed so far. That was always fun. “So, I love the sound of your story. What inspired it?” Kelly shot Jenna a quizzical look then motioned to resume walking. They had nowhere really to go, but exploring this huge, impressive ship was always fun.

“The number of Tom Hiddleston fangirls bears testament to that, don’t you think?” Jenna smirked as well, as they resumed walking through the corridors.  “It was inspired loosely by a female paladin I played at a text-based roleplaying site, and my attempts to write a backstory for her.  At first this series followed her story very closely, but at some point this world took on a life of its own, and kept adding layers and layers of complexity.  Every new epiphany has been frustrating because it meant another edit or another completely rewritten draft, but I think I’m finally on the draft that’s going to see the hands of an editor.”  An exasperated laugh echoed out against the bulkhead, but it had the sound of a writer who wouldn’t trade the frustrations of writing for the world. “And of course it’s nothing at all like the original draft of her backstory anymore.  But that’s half the fun, isn’t it?”

“Of course! Every part of writing is different from the other parts, but it’s totally worth it.” Kelly smiled then nodded to some members of the crew who passed them, carrying on their duties. “So what makes your story so different from all the other romantic fantasy novels out there? You know there’s tough competition.” She motioned that they should take the corridor on the left, and they continued walking.

Jenna nodded to the passing crew members as well, giving them a smile, before looking back to Kelly.  She turned to the left and continued on down the new hallway.   There seemed to be more crew down this way, and she thought she caught the whiff of something that smelled like food before the air scrubbers whisked it away. “Ah, yes.  The competition is ridiculously tough in this genre.  I think what makes my story stand out is the way that it’s… well, for lack of a better term, consistently feminist while still being romantic.  I know that might polarize some people, but I like that my characters are all equals, that they do what they feel they need to do and gender roles and prejudices be hanged. I also think the way that I draw the ideas of past and future lives into things makes it unique for a more western-style fantasy.  That’s an idea you’ll see in a lot of eastern and oriental mythologies, but not so much in the western milieu.  So it’s fun to play with that, too.  And of course that will be leading to sequels.” She grinned at that.  An author’s work was never done, not while the ideas continued to flow.

Kelly smiled as well. “Well, you have your work cut out for you, but I’m confident you can do it.” At last Kelly led Jenna to a wide, dome section of the ship, and they went to the railing and looked down at the multiple floors where much of the crew went about their work. One floor was the cafeteria. Another floor looked to be a training arena. Another  had computer screens lining the walls. “Welcome to the central hub of the ship.” Kelly gestured to it with a smile.

But then she sighed, knowing they had to part way soon, but she had a few more questions. “And what is the main thing you’d like your readers to walk away from after reading your book?”

“Lots of work.  But I like to think you’re right that I can do it.” Jenna stared at the central hub, taking it all in.  It was pretty awesome, and she took a moment to just enjoy it before answering the question. “I think the main thing I’d love for readers to walk away with is a sense that love and hope can overcome barriers and unite people to fight against darkness.  To feel like it’s something they can do in their own lives.” She nodded, before giving an impish smile, regretting that time was coming to a close. “And of course I want them to walk away feeling like they’ve had a grand adventure right alongside the characters as well.  That’s the most important part of fantasy.”

“That is fantastic. I really like it.” Kelly had to smile. “And, as much as I would love to keep chatting because I love chatting with new authors I meet, unfortunately we have to part ways, but before we do, what is your story called? And when do you think it’ll be published? I’d like my readers to be able to keep an eye out for it.” As she asked this, Kelly opened a portal for Jennifer with a gesture of her hand, but she wanted to know the answer to her questions.

Jenna smiled as the portal opened. “It’s called the Soldaris Saga, and book one is titled Child of the Sky.  If I self-publish, we’ll be seeing it at the beginning of 2016.  If it gets picked up by a more traditional publisher, it could be longer, but I always keep people updated on these things on Facebook and Twitter.   Best way to know what I’m up to, really.”  She nodded at that.  “Thank you so much for the time.  And the glimpse of space.  It’s lovely out here.”

“Thanks for coming! It was great meeting you and chatting with you. We’ll definitely be in touch.” Kelly grinned then waved bye as Jenna stepped into the portal. it closed behind her, and Kelly turned back to the central hub. She wasn’t leaving just had. She had a character to find and pester with questions, but that interview was fun.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Jenna Bowman’s story ‘Soldaris Saga’ has no release date set for it yet, but you can follow her on social media for more updates:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/officialjennabowman/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JennaCBowman

Website: www.jennabowman.com

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/JennaCBowman

Character Interview: A.J. Downey’s Cutter

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Cutter was written by A.J. Downey.)

He sighed and looked out the porthole set behind and to the left of his ‘throne’, gazing absently out and to the left across sand to the distant lapping aquamarine waters. His hair hung midway down his back in a loose horsetail. Dividing the image of the giant orange octopus dragging the doomed ship below the waves in half. His cut was worn and dirty and had seen a lot of action, much like the man in it.

Kelly looked at the establishment before entering. It was humid here like the Author had told her it would be, but Kelly was used to humidity, so it didn’t bother her. She’d had a very long, hard day already and suspected what she would meet in there. She would be nice if possible but wasn’t in the mood for games.

With a sigh, she forced all the day’s activities from her mind, found a smile, and stepped into The Plank. Immediately she was met by a large man, and she wasn’t surprised but smiled at him. “You must be Tiny. I have an appointment with the Captain.” she said the exact words the Author told her to say.

Tiny looked the lithe woman over and chewed the corner of his lip thoughtfully. “Hey Captain! Woman says she’s here to see you.”

A voice called from an archway into the back.

“Let her in, Tiny and keep your fuckin’ hands to yourself.”

Kelly smiled at the words then nodded to Tiny. “Thank you.” And she headed past him in the general direction she heard the voice. It wasn’t very difficult to find this Cutter fellow. He was sitting on what looked to be an electric chair. As Kelly came to stand before him, she had to smile as a thought came to her mind. “I do truly hope that chair is decommissioned. Otherwise, first blast of lightning to the electric system here, and your hair would…well…” She gestured as a big ‘poof’ but then smiled at him. “I’m Kelly Blanchard. I’m assuming you’re Cutter. Thank you for meeting with me.”

Cutter eyed the woman plaintively and nodded thoughtfully to himself. His expression neutral, giving nothing away.  “Something like a hundred and sixty-two dudes died in this thing. It is decommissioned though. No hook ups, no switch…what’s a pretty little thing like you doing in my town? Why’d you want to see me?”

Kelly raised her brows as she crossed her arms. “Why did I want to see you? You’re the one who volunteered to meet with me, so i should be asking you that.” She then smiled. “But as for why I’m here, I’m here to get to know you. I hear you’re quite a curious fellow. So who exactly are you?”

Cutter bowed his head and chuckled, his expression rueful. “That little bitch…” he uttered. He stood and thrusted his hands into the pockets of a worn pair of tan cargo shorts. He wore his cut over a colorfully tattooed and leanly muscled chest. “I’m Cutter,” he said simply and shrugged. His smile was almost charming with an edge of endearing to it. His rich brown eyes roving the woman in front of him from head to feet. He took a step off the dais the electric chair rests on and stopped a few feet in front of her. “Have a seat, Darlin’. Get comfortable. I might like to get to know you too.” He pulled out a chair for her and gestured for her to sit.

“No, thank you.” She shook her head. She had seen him looking at her, and she wasn’t stupid but decided to ignore it and focus on the questions, so she sat back in her chair. “And what was your life prior to being a Marine?”

“Hard working southern boy.” he said and leaned forward, bracing his forearms on his knees. “Enlisted right out of High School.”

Kelly raised her brows as she considered him. Being from deep in the country of Texas, she immediately tried to imagine him in cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. The image really wasn’t coming together too well, and it made her chuckle, but she went on with her questions.  “Where from the south?”

“One of the Carolinas. What made you come all the way down here to my little kingdom by the sea on the word o’ that girl?” he asked her and his eyes held curiosity, even as his face was set in stone.

Kelly met his gaze then tilted her head as a smile played on her lips. He was going to try and play this game? “You volunteered, remember?” She arched an elegant brow. “So, are you the kind of guy who joined the Marines and left your past behind including your family and forged a new life? Or do you still have connections to your old life?”

“I talk to my parents every now and again. Sometimes my brother.” He shrugged nonchalantly, “Only family that really counts is the ones I got here though.” He swept a hand out taking in the bar and the men in similar cuts out front.  “I was a black sheep, a wild child. Marines knocked some discipline and sense into me. When I got back, I was in rough shape. My folks didn’t need to see it. That’s about it on that. Not much else to say.” He reached out a finger and paused and quirked an eyebrow as if to ask permission. Hearing no denial, he tucked a loose strand of hair behind Kelly’s ear. Nothing overt about it, just a genuine desire to see her better.  “You’re a pretty girl Ms..?”

“Blanchard,” she automatically filled in although she gave him this look because she had already told him that before, but she listened to what he had said and chose another question. “So you came back from the Marines and built this place?” She glimpsed around again before meeting his eyes. “How did you manage that?”

“Didn’t build it. Took it over from the President before me. Came up in the ranks just like any other brother.” He leaned back in his seat. “What’s your story? What do you do?”

Kelly laughed then leaned in to whispered. “You want to know what it is that I do? I pester people like you with questions.” She smirked as she sat back in her chair. That was the only answer she would give him. “So how did you get involved in all this?”

Cutter leaned in and gave her his best devil may care smile, “You want, I’ll show you. You trust me to take you somewhere, Darlin’?”

Kelly gave him a look as she crossed her arms. “And where exactly would you be talking me?”

“Just down to the marina, along the boulevard. Whole town’ll see you in case you’re wondering. Ain’t a safer place on the planet than with me. I can promise you that. Still… men don’t know how to treat women. It ain’t like it used to be, so I would understand if you wanted to decline.”

“I assure you I can take care of myself, so I will allow you to take me to this place, but know this, if you try anything funny, it will definitely not in your favor–as a few other men before you have learned.” She smiled, recalling the two antagonists that had tried to attack her in previous interviews and how surprised they were. “So…” she rose to her feet. “Lead the way, and as you do so, tell me about this place. What it used to be like.”

Cutter stood in one fluid motion and held out his hand for Kelly to take. When she does, he tucked it gently into the crook of his arm. A very old fashioned and gentlemanly gesture.

“Said you’re safe with me, Sugar and I meant it.” he said softly, tone gently, teasingly chiding as he leads her through the bar and into the bright Florida sun. He strolls with her up the line of bikes and stops at a gorgeous Indian motorcycle, the tank a glossy white and orange, the seat a rich brown leather.

“Let me explain a little somethin’ to you…” Cutter explained what he needs from a passenger as he stuffs his feet into a pair of boots from his saddle bag and laces them up. He straightened and winked and got on, starting the bike with a sharp roar, the engine settling into a chugging purr. He holds out a hand to Kelly to steady her as she gets on the back. “You got more than 10 grand in medical insurance, Sweet Heart?” he called over the idling bike.

Kelly had to laugh. She wasn’t a part of his reality. Nothing could hurt her here. She replied over the sound of the engine. “You really don’t know me at all.”

“Like to change that if you’re up for it… you got proof of insurance or not?”

Kelly thought of phasing her hand straight through his back and out his chest to prove to him what she could do. Of course it wouldn’t hurt him at all. The only reason he could touch her at all was because she allowed it. Otherwise, she wasn’t even solid in this reality, but she didn’t want to explain that to him. That was her insurance policy. “Let’s just say, you’re gonna have to trust me on that. Now, are you going to tell me somewhere or no?”

“Fair enough, your ticket anyways and you can’t be any safer than ridin’ with me except for maybe with my VP, Marlin. He’s a careful rider.” Cutter helped Kelly onto the back of his bike and put her arms around his waist, where they were comfortable.

“Hang on, lean with the bike, just like I told you. Here we go.” He took them out onto the road slowly, working the machine with practiced ease. He yelled back over the wind. “Took the club over from a guy named Mac! He died of cancer a ways back. Not much of the old guard left to be honest.”

Kelly smiled at the thrill of the ride. She’d ridden bikes before because her brother had one as did her brother-in-law, and a friend. She knew how to ride, and she knew Cutter wouldn’t do anything stupid to damage the ride.

She yelled over the engine. “And why’s that? Did they leave or something else?”

“Or something else!” he called back and revved the engine. They shot forward down the street, he slowed at the end and made a gentle turn onto the town’s main drag also known as the boulevard.

Kelly took in her surroundings. Even though Cutter said she was safe with him, she didn’t like new places, so her senses were on full alert although she remained on the conversation. “And who’s responsible for the ‘something else’? You?”

“Can’t tell you that. Y’see, there’s a code we live by, it ain’t the same as your civilian rules and laws. It just is what it is. We protect our own, tried and true, fierce…you feel me?”

“Sure. Okay, so can you tell me about your people? I mean, personality-wise, and maybe a bit of how you know them.”

“My boys? Eh… I’d rather talk about you.” He guides the bike into another gentle turn, into a marina parking lot. Sail, sport and fishing boats bob gently in their berths.

“Not an option.” The smell of the marine filled Kelly’s nose, and she wrinkled her nose but then smoothed her features. “So do you basically run this town or something?”

“Ooooor something.” Cutter grinned and put down the kickstand on the bike, leaning it onto it. He held out a hand so Kelly could get off.

But Kelly didn’t dismount right away. Rather she crossed her arms. “Why are you dodging my questions?”

“Why you dodging mine?” Cutter looks back over his shoulder and raises an eyebrow, lips curled in a faintly amused smile.

“Because the terms of the agreement to even have this conversation in the first place is so I can ask you questions—not the other way around.” She gave him a firm look, refusing to back down.

Cutter smiled, “I don’t remember agreeing to anything, Darlin’, and it’s in the nature of a man like me to be suspicious. Can’t take nothin’ for granted. The really real world don’t work that way for us.”

“Real~ly?” Kelly dragged it out sarcastically, sending his Author a mental note that he wasn’t cooperating with her, but then she finally dismounted. “Well then, if you won’t answer any of my questions, then I will simply be on my way.”

“Suit yourself,” Cutter smiled and was perfectly prepared to let her walk away, if only he could watch her ass go.

“Fine. Have a good day, Sir.” Kelly gave him a curt nod then turned sharp on her heel and began to walk away.

Cutter sighed as she begins to walk away. Damn, she was fine. “Hold up, Sweetheart!” he called before she could go too far. He got off the bike.  “Let’s try this again, let me get you a cold drink.” Cutter met Kelly’s eyes and jerked his head down the dock in the direction of the boats. “Ever think you might be asking the wrong questions?” he asked softly when she hesitated.

Kelly halted and willed herself to take a very deep breath. She had already put up with enough egotistic men. She thought for a moment then made up her mind, marched right up to him. “Listen, this has been a really, really, really bad day for me before I even came here. Why? Because of men like you. I have no patience for it, but I am trying my hardest to be sincere and nice.” She took a step back. “As for asking the wrong questions?” She spread her hands out. “I’m trying to figure out WHAT questions to ask you, but you won’t give me anything to even work with, so how am I supposed to know what to ask?” She crossed her arms as she glared at him.

“Ah, but you did just give me something. Right there.” He pulled her into a gentle hug. “I’m sorry you’ve had a bad day, Honey. Can’t resist me a damsel in distress. Just the way things are. You come into my joint asking all kinds of things that don’t mean anything to me…but this? This means something. Making you feel better, that means something.” He let her go and kept one hand in hers. “Come have a glass of wine…I came to Ft. Royal about six or seven years back. My buddy Pyro talked me into going into the salvage business with him. Maritime salvage mind you. I had experience with boating from back in Carolina, so it was something new…plus I had all the start up money. When I got here, the town was in rough shape. The Kraken, led by Mac, was squeezing the place dry with a protection racket but wasn’t doing much protecting. You catch my drift?”

Kelly yanked her hand out of his. “I know you’re trying to be nice, but do not touch me again. Understood? Thank you.” Then she took a deep breath and focused what he was saying. “Okay, so tell me more of this place.”

Cutter smirked, amused. “Kitten has teeth.” he commented dryly. “You know touch ain’t such a bad thing, right? Don’t mean nothin’ by it and there ain’t no ‘tryin” about it. I am being nice, Sugar.” He leads the way down the dock to his boat, the Mysteria Ann and held out a hand to help Kelly aboard, standing there patiently.

“This place was in rough shape. Just needed a little love and a firm hand. I provided both.”

Kelly still wasn’t sure what to really ask him. She already knew her time here was up and she needed to leave because she had another interview in an hour, but he was finally beginning to talk with her, so she allowed herself to to linger longer and took his hand to get on board. “Go on.”

Cutter smiled and helped her up. “Took a while to fix it, but we did. Starting with the club. Mac never intended it to get as bad as it did and when he knew the cancer was about to punch his ticket he asked for my help. I was voted Pres. after he died and it’s been me and my boys and keeping things straight around here ever since.”

“So what exactly is this place?” Kelly asked looking around.

“Tourist town. Some of the best beachfront in Florida.” Cutter shrugged. “White or red, Darlin’?”

Kelly looked at him then tilted her head. “Would you like me to be honest or polite?”

“Can’t you do both?”

“Depends on your definition of ‘polite’, but then she shook her head at the offered wine. “I don’t drink.” She wasn’t about to tell him about her brother’s addiction that had killed him, and she swore never to touch any alcohol since. “But you may if you wish. I will continue to listen. So, what’s your favorite thing about this place?”

“Eh?” Cutter watched the ghost of sorrow cross Kelly’s face. “The water, how close we are to the Keys…can I get you a glass of sweet tea?” Cutter trailed his vision over her features. “Sweetheart, I gotta say, you keep looking like that I’m not gonna be able to keep myself from hugging you again.” He sighed. “Just trying to be both polite and honest.” He smiled. Kelly was totally breaking his heart. Cutter resisted every urge to hold her and promise to chase the bad thoughts, the hurt and the ache away.

“Hug me again, and I will stab you.” That’s all she said before finally heaving a heavy sigh. “Listen, I know I’m being difficult. Only fair because you were being difficult too, so that wasn’t helping. I appreciate your…concern, but I am fine. I mean, if you have a punching bag around here somewhere, I’d love to give it a few solid punches.” She then lifted her hand and gave him a look. “I’m joking.” Partly. She did want to go home and punch something.

Then smoothing her face, Kelly looked  across the water. “What is your favorite memory of this place?”

“Ah…bittersweet that one. About a year or so back this dude from a club up north rode into town with this sweet Li’l Bit of a thing on the back of his bike. I got lucky and managed to hook up with them for a night. She’s somethin’ special that one.”

“And where is she now?”

“Legit, I’m sorry you’re hurting and if it makes you feel better, I been shot before and getting stabbed ain’t no thing…I might be willing to risk it.” Cutter sucked it up when he saw the question won’t be evaded. “She’s back up north, with her man. You missed ’em by a couple of weeks.”

Wondering if she finally touched upon something close to him that he might open up, Kelly continued, “Honorable that you let them go, but I bet you weren’t too happy about that.” She glanced at him.

“Hurt like an ever loving son of a bitch but Reave is a good man.” He walked to the stern and dropped onto one of the padded benches.

“How come you don’t like to be touched?”

“Personal preference,” Kelly answered dryly as she walked to one side of the boat to look across the water before glancing back at Cutter. “So, this girl’s gone. What are you doing with your life now?”

“Waitin’ for another one to show up.” he said with a lazy shrug.

“You said you were shot. Care to elaborate? Or is that something you’d rather not talk about?” Now she was beginning to pace. It helped her think and listen.

“My unit kicked in a door at the sand trap, me and my buddy were the first to follow the breach…I took a couple to my body armor but one found a chink…my buddy took one to his face. He died, I didn’t. How’s that for candid?” Now Cutter was the one who looked withdrawn and haunted. “Should have been me.”

Kelly halted and looked at him. She recognized that look on his face and respected it. “I’m sorry. That must have been very hard. However, if you had died, then we wouldn’t be talking right now.” She shrugged and resumed her pacing. “And unfortunately my time here is up, and I need to leave, but before I go…” She halted in front of him, her arms crossed still. “Is there anything further you think I should know about you? Anything you’d like to tell me?”

“Just how much I’d like to kiss you once before you go.” he winked up at her.

Kelly’s face merely hardened. She wasn’t amused. “Well then, I appreciate your time and all you have told me, and I apologize for my harshness.” She bowed her head to him briefly before looking at him once more. “I will take my leave now. May you have a wonderful evening.”

“You’re a strange chick, Ms. Blanchard, but suit yourself. You find yourself remembering what regret tastes like, you know where to find me. I’ll have a cool drink of water waitin’ for you.”

She had to smile then shook her head. “Once again, you’ve proven just how much you don’t know me at all. Take care.” With that she turned to walk but a question caught her mind and she looked back at him, “Do you have any moral standards?”

“Like you wouldn’t believe…they’re just different than the average Joe’s.” Cutter looked at her plaintively. “You take care of yourself, Sugar.”

She stared at him, curious to know exactly what he meant, but then nodded. “Thank you again. Goodbye.” And with that, she turned but didn’t even step off the boat before she vanished.

“What the…?” Cutter shook his head in disbelief.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Note: AJ Downey’s book ‘Cutter’s Hope’ is slated for release in January 2016. Follow her on social media for more updates!

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Author Interview: A.J. Downey

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. A.J. was written by A.J. Downey.)

“So, tell me…does this armor make me look fat?”

Kelly pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes, willing herself to take a deep breath before opening her eyes to see a full suit of armor posing before her. She narrowed her eyes. “Elf, put the armor back on its stand.”

“But does it make me look fat?” The armor struck another pose.

“In short? Yes. Now get out.”

The armor hunched its shoulders then clanked its way back to its rank, took up position there once more, and suddenly came out of the armor flew a golden being that reminded Kelly of the genie from Aladdin—just much smaller and a lot more annoying. He couldn’t make wishes come true to conjure anything out of thin air, but he could possess any inanimate objects, making them come to ‘life’ as long as he was in them. He hovered in the air and crossed his arms as he pouted. “You’re so mean!”

Kelly arched a brow at the ELF—Energy Life Form—but then she smiled as she leaned forward on the counter in her Muse Shop and braced her chin on her hands. “You know, when some calls me mean, it only gives me permission to live up to the reputation.” An evil smile slid across her face causing the ELF to pull back from her. However, Kelly then shook her head and pointed to the mirror in the back of the shop, giving Elf a stern look. “Now, back to your world.”

“But I wanna stay here! With you! Can’t I just possess…” He darted a look around the shop and landed his eyes on a chair. “That chair? I promise to be good!”

“No.” Kelly shook her head. “I don’t want to have to explain to any of my guests why a chair is suddenly moving. Now go!” She shooed him out of the front of the shop and into the mirror then allowed herself a sigh of relief as she headed back to the front just as the door chimed with a visitor entering.

Approaching the counter once more, Kelly found her guest already looking around the shop. “A.J. Downey?” She poked her head around a corner and smiled when AJ looked at her. “Hey! If you’re looking for a portion that’ll conjure some really hot dude, I hear it’s that vial on your right, on the third shelf. Not sure if it’s true though. Haven’t test it yet.” Kelly shrugged with a smile.

“No thanks, I’ve got plenty in my head and they’re all a pain in the ass for the most part. You must be Kelly?”

‘Yep!” She reached her hand out to shake A.J.’s. “Thanks for coming. You’re welcome to browse around while we talk, if you’d like. I have things to put on the shelves anyway.” As Kelly said this, she went back to the counter, picked up a box and came back to the shelves, and began putting odd trinkets in their new homes. “So,” she glanced over to AJ, “Tell me a bit about yourself, what you do, and how it all fits into you being a writer.”

Heaving her back pack a bit higher onto her shoulder A.J. looked around. “Well, I’m a security guard twice over, I pull a regular 0800-1730 shift Monday through Friday, I write full time and I do part time Maritime security work on the weekends. So you could say I have a lot of down time to think about things. I pretty much started getting bored at work and started writing as a way to pass the time.”

“And it’s a great and very productive way to pass time.” Kelly smiled, putting a snowglobe on the shelf next to a chipped teacup. Then she motioned for A.J. to follow her as she went back the counter to put some items in the display cases. “You’re welcome to sit if you’d like. Unburden yourself from that backpack. It looks heavy.” She motioned to a stool on the other side of the counter. “Sorry I don’t have anything more comfortable down here. But anyway, so beside writing to pass the time, were you writing before that? As a kid or something like that?” She lifted her brows as she then unlocked a display case and slide a jewel-encrusted dagger into place.

A.J. slid the pack off her shoulder and sat up on the stool. It did not go unnoticed that she slid her leg through one of the pack’s straps before planting a booted foot on the stool’s bottom rung securely. A few attempts at picking the pack up and setting it down got it to sit straight, but she already begun talking. “I wrote a lot in Jr. High and High School. Won a couple of awards for my short stories and poetry but nothing serious. I guess looking back on it, it gave me the dumb idea that I might actually be good enough to do something with it but probably not enough to go trad published.  I started reading more. I’ve always been a reader.  Wow, some of the books on kindle were rough. I knew I could do better, so I started writing with no real end goal in sight.  First few books I tossed out there were meh. Then I picked up on MC romance as a genre. Holy crap did that take off! Been doing it ever since.” A.J. gave a tight little smile, uncomfortable is the word that comes to mind.

Kelly smiled at her warmly. “Yep, writing will do that once you find the right story! So what are you working on right now? What inspired it?”

“I’m way ahead of the game actually…Let’s see…” A.J. pondered a moment and let out an explosive breath, “So the SHMC series totals out at six books and a novella. Book five is going live on July 1st, book six, sometime this fall and then the next trilogy which is The Kraken MC picks up after the events in the SHMC books. I finished the first book in that trilogy, The Virtues Trilogy, a couple of months back. I then took a time out and wrote the first book in a PNR series with Ryan Kells, ‘I Am The Alpha’. It launched August 4th, and while I was working on that I also co-wrote the first book in my Angel’s Grace trilogy with author Jeffrey Cook. It went with him to WorldCon in August but won’t officially launch until later, probably fall or winter. So that leaves what I am currently writing which is the second book in The Virtues Trilogy, Marlin’s Faith.” A.J. smiled just a touch smugly.

Kelly tried to keep up with everything, but then she shook her head amazed. “You are one busy writer!! I’m not even sure where to start with all that.” She laughed. “So, pick one of those, and tell me what it’s about.”

A.J. leaned back in her seat and rocks forward, “It’s so hard to pick just one! They’re all such great stories and just about every one of them is anticipated by someone or a group of someones. You talked to Ryan Kells, right?”

“Yes, I did.” Kelly nodded and tried to recall Ryan’s and her conversation. Finally thought, she shook her head and chuckled. “I can honestly say I can’t remember what his story was about because at the end of our interview he fell down a steep hill and scared the daylights out of me!” She then laughed and looked around their surroundings and smiled. “It’s much safer here.”

A.J. raised an eyebrow, “Well that’s not helpful.” Her iPhone appeared out of her pocket and she shot off a text. “I’m just going to assume he talked about IATA and go with something else then…let’s see…Let’s talk Virtues Trilogy. It’s far enough removed from the SHMC series that I think I can get around any spoilers.”

“Yes, most definitely don’t want to give away spoilers!” Kelly nodded as she pulled up a stool and got more comfortable. “So tell me about this series.”

A.J.’s iPhone pinged, “Yep he talked IATA.” She turned off the phone and slid it into her back pocket. “So The Virtues Trilogy starts out with Hope, who walks into The Kraken MC’s club house looking for a girl who was the last person to see Hope’s sister before she disappeared almost two years prior. The girl Hope is looking for was last seen with The Kraken MC.” A.J. slid off her jacket and stuffed it into the top of her bag before continuing. “So, first thing’s first, she runs into Cutter, who obviously knows something about the girl but isn’t telling and of course, the game of cat and mouse ensues. All kinds of shenanigans. It’s fun times!”

“Sounds dangerous but fun.” Kelly smiled as she leaned in to hear more.

A.J. grinned, “Very, Hope is an ever loving badass and Cutter is as Alpha male as they get.”

Kelly laughed. “Oh yes, this sounds like it would be fun. So, this is a trilogy then?” She raised her brows.

“Right, except that like the SHMC novels, the central storyline remains a constant but each book features a different couple. Hope, Faith and Charity are the three Virtues and in this case, they are three sisters who become irrevocably entwined in the lives of the men of The Kraken MC.”

“Ahh!” Kelly nodded as she now understood, and then she smiled. “Well, that’s very interesting! Now, this question might be difficult, but of the different couples, which one is your personal favorite?”

“Depends, are we talking just The Virtues trilogy or are we talking all of the books I’ve written to date?”

Kelly paused for a second to think but then chuckled. “Okay, first just the Virtues trilogy, and then the other.” She was curious to know of both.

“Virtues, Cutter and Hope, so far but I haven’t written much of Marlin and Faith yet and Charity and Nothing haven’t had their day at all except for one pivotal scene I have planned out. As for the SHMC…” A.J. heaved a huge sigh, “God that’s hard.” She stared into space for a ridiculous amount of time before finally coming back to herself. “It has to be Reaver and Hayden. I can’t help it. Reaver is my favorite.” She looked defeated for a moment and palmed her face like she regretted saying the words out loud.

This reaction got Kelly to raise a brow. “Oh? And who exactly is Reaver?” She smiled as she asked.

“Reaver’s my boy.” A.J. grinned and opened up the back pocket of her pack, slipping out her Surface Pro 3. “This is him.” She brought up a picture and turns the tablet around for Kelly to see.

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Kelly looked at the picture. “Ohh, nice!” She smirked then looked up at A.J. “And why do you like him so much? What make him so awesome?”

A.J.’s face sobered. “He gets what it’s like to be so broken inside as to be unloveable. He forges his own path and does everything his way and anyone who gets in his way… well, he,” A.J. cleared her throat, “Handles them. Without mercy, without remorse. Reaver knows what regret tastes like but it’s not exactly how you think.” A.J. looks at Kelly plaintively but doesn’t expand on that last thought.

“Sounds very intriguing.” Kelly nodded then smiled, “I can understand why you like him. So, are any of your characters inspired off real life people–maybe a mix of people you know—or did they all just start speaking in your head?”

“Hope was very much so based off the eldest daughter of my best friend. She’s snappy, witty, and sarcastic in all the best ways. Other than that, no one else immediately comes to mind.” A.J. slipped her surface back into her bag, and zipped everything up. She got up and re-shouldered it, but not to leave. She started to look around the shop but kept her hands to herself.

Kelly watched her look around at all the different trinkets of the shop. “If you find anything that really speaks to you, you may have it—free of charge. These things have no master. They know who they belong to.” She smiled when A.J. gave her a perplexed look. “But anyway, back to your story, what do you think makes your story stand out above the rest that are in the same genre? What makes it so different?”

“My characters are real. Real people with real and relatable heartache. Dealing with real issues and overcoming those issues the way real people do every day.” A.J. smiled and picked up an antique straight razor. “Reaver would like this.” She set it back down and kept looking.

“I think your books will help a lot of people going to similar troubles. You might take it deeper and darker than they have to encounter in real life, but sometimes that is necessary, so people today realize they don’t have it that bad.” Kelly rose from her seat and took a few scrolls from behind the counter and moved to put them on a high shelf. Then she turned to A.J. and smiled, “Find anything you’d like to take?”

“Oh, no thank you. I have plenty of things at home. Too many things. I like to keep things here and there that belong to my characters. My last piece is a wrist band worn by Faith in my latest WIP.” A.J. slid her pack completely onto her back.

“That is very neat! Really ties the characters into the real world.” Kelly then gestured to the store. “But if you ever change your mind or need inspiration of any kind, you’re welcome to visit. Never know what you’d find…or what will find you.”

A.J. moved around a shelf. “I have no shortage of things to do. I have eleven more books plotted, two more ‘Moon Forged’, Two more ‘Angels Grace’ and the rest MC. The last two ‘Virtues’ and five more set in the ‘Sacred Hearts’ universe but as separate books from the initial SHMC story arc.”

Kelly shook her head, amazed. “My hat goes off to you with all those projects. I have NO idea how you can do all of them. I can only manage one at a time.” But then she smiled, “Do you have any tips for people who’d like to try and multitask with stories?”

“Oh I don’t. I write one at a time straight through. It took me and Ryan 19 days to do ‘I Am The Alpha’. My record is still less than two weeks and that was for my longest book, ‘Cracked & Crushed’. It only took me 11 days to write it and it topped out at 110,000 words. I can’t write more than one story at the same time it gets to be too overwhelming. I’m doing it right now and am doing okay at it, but yeah. Even I have my limits.”

“110,000 words in 11 days???” Kelly’s eyes widened, and then she wagged her head. “Wow! No way would I even attempt to do that. That is very amazing.. Well good for you, and keep writing!”

“Keep in mind I write about 9hrs plus a day, and it isn’t uncommon for me to bust out 10k plus words a day in a story. So yeah, it’s doable to get to the end of that first draft. I know I’m kind of a freak that way. And before you ask… I don’t know where I get it or where it comes from. It’s sometimes as effortless as breathing. Then there are those books I struggle and delete half the damn thing and rewrite it.”

“That’s got to be painful—deleting half of it.” Kelly winced but then nodded. She understood the process well. “But I’m sure it’s better than before when you rewrite it!”

“‘Fractured & Formidable’ ended up being 32 chapters the first time. I got half way through ‘Damaged & Dangerous’, the next book in the series and went back and deleted everything in F&F from chapter 19 onwards and rewrote it.  It was fucking brutal.” A.J. looked up sharply. “Sorry, I swear a lot. Comes with the territory.” She shrugged but doesn’t look totally apologetic more like it is a conditioned response.

Kelly didn’t bat an eye. Some people swore while others didn’t, and she accepted that. “Well, I’m glad you managed to find the troublesome part of the story, untangle the problem, and rewrite it. That’s a good lesson for us all.” But then she looked at her watch and frowned, “Hey, it’s getting really late, and I have an appointment in the story realm soon. Sorry to have to cut this short.” She looked up at A.J. apologetically. “You’re welcome to stick around though if you’d like.” She motioned to the Shop.

“Oh, hey no! Thanks so much for having me me come by. I’m actually in need of a caffeine fix and some quality time inside my own head. I’ll catch you later?”

“Sure thing!” Kelly grinned. “Anytime! You take care, okay? And keep me posted on your books!”

A.J. waved absently like she was already listening to something Kelly couldn’t hear. “Yeah sure, absolutely!” she said distractedly, her feet already carrying her towards the door.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Note: AJ Downey’s book ‘Cutter’s Hope’ is slated for release in January 2016. Follow her on social media for more updates!

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Character Interview: Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick’s Deacon

(Kelly is written by Kelly Blanchard while Deacon is written by Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick.)

The entrance hall to Savage Decadence was historic and beautiful. Dark mahogany panels lined the bottom of the walls, and above them they were painted a luxurious dark red color. Paintings were dotted around the walls, old style paintings of erotic scenes, tasteful and elegant. A length of carpet ran up the centre, the sides of the flooring a dark wood.

A woman donned in a long black gown stood several feet from the main doors, her hands elegantly clasped in front of her. She wore a dark choker donning a large purple crystal in the middle. Her red hair pulled back into a braid that fell down her back. “Miss Blanchard. I am Violet Townsend. Mr. McClain’s assistant.  He has instructed me to escort you to his office.”

Kelly nodded as she glimpsed around. It was a bit more luxurious than she expected, and she felt a bit underdressed in her blue jeans and white top, but at least she was wearing heels. That always added some kind of elegance to her appearance.

She smiled at Violet. “By all means, lead the way.” With that, she followed her escort through the building and glimpsed around, taking in her surroundings.

Walking through the halls of Savage Decadence it became clear that the club had a very gothic feel to it. Dark colored furnishings, large oak doors. Mr. McClain’s office had two huge mahogany doors, both have celtic designs etched onto them. Violet took hold of both silver door handles and pulled the doors open. She waved Miss Blanchard inside and followed her in.

Deacon lifted his head from the folder on his desk, several strands of his slightly overgrown jet black hair hanging over his eyes. He stood up, clad in a black tailored suit, black shirt, and no tie. He had a strong jaw which had the faintest hint of stubble on it. His sapphire eyes stayed on Miss Blanchard as he walked around his large black desk. His office had a black carpet, dark cherry lines the walls with black tribal designs painted onto it. A black leather sofa was situated on the left hand wall, two leather seats on the opposite side of his desk.

He smiled warmly and offered his hand to Miss Blanchard. “Miss Blanchard. It’s a pleasure to meet you. My authoress told me to expect you. Would you care for a drink? Coffee, Tea? Or if you would like something stronger that’s not a problem.”

Kelly shook her head at his coffee. “I am well. Thank you. No need to trouble yourself.” She smiled at him before glancing around at their surroundings. “Quite a lovely place you have it.” It certainly wasn’t what she had expected, but she must have gotten this person mixed up with someone else she had yet to interview, but it was a pleasant surprise. Smiling to herself, she turned back to him. “Did you create all this on your own? The business, I mean.”

Deacon smiled and motioned to Violet that she could go. Violet left the office. He motioned to Kelly to take a seat and walked back round his desk and sat down. “Yes. I have a third stake in a security business with two very close friends. It’s been pretty successful and gave me the opportunity to open this place. It’s one of those situations where I have always wanted to do it but never had the chance. Until now. Thank you for the compliment. I’m very proud of this old pile of bricks.” He chuckled softly.

With a gracious smile and a nod, Kelly took the seat he had gestured to but sat with her ankles crossed and tucked off to the side as she rested one elbow on the armrest of the chair. “So, what do you do?” She raised her brows . His authoress had told her some, but she wanted to hear it from him personally.

Leaning back in his chair, he looked at her. His right hand lifted into the desk, and he considered her question.

“The security agency is like a private detective agency. However, we also handle diplomats, bodyguard services and security for high class events. Savage Decadence is purely a BDSM club. I’m very picky about my members. It comes from my military past. Thanks to the security company and savings I had, I can live here in a reasonable amount of luxury.”

Kelly tilted her head to a side considering him. She was trying to connect the dots between him being a soldier and him being a businessman. Yes, she knew many soldiers could leave the battlefield and become successful businessman, but she wasn’t sure how that happened. She also wasn’t sure how to ask the question, so the timing for it might not be right yet.

Instead, she opted for another question as she nodded to herself. “You seem to have done quite well for yourself.” She glimpsed around the room once more before finally locking eyes with him. “Who would you say you are….as an individual?”

Clearing his throat, he glanced down to a picture frame on his desk. It was facing away from Kelly. After several seconds, he looked up at her. “I am a soldier, Miss Blanchard. My life is very structured, I ensure that my schedule is set so that I can plan ahead. This place is an entirely different side to me. I am sure my authoress explained that I am a dominant. I enjoy control, in all things. I am a soldier who was very fortunate to serve my country and then start a successful business. But until the day I die, I will always consider myself a soldier.” His voice was low, polite. He gave a quick glance to the picture again before looking at Kelly

She noticed him looking at the picture, and she wondered what it was a picture of but kept that curiosity to herself. Instead, Kelly sat back in her chair and regarded him as she asked her next question, “And do you have any family?”

His demeanor tightened for a split second before he forced himself to relax. “I was given up by my Mother as a baby. I was then placed in several foster homes before I ended up with Mrs Latimer. I arrived with her when I was eight and remained there until I joined the military at eighteen. She raised me and for that I am thankful, however difficult it may have been. My comrades, William and Alexander, are like family to me. Brothers-in-arms so to speak. I have no blood family to speak of. Mrs Latimer and her husband are dead. Samantha who I grew up with in the foster home, well, I haven’t seen her in several years.”

Kelly nodded. This she understood and expected from a soldier. The camaraderie was important, especially when putting their lives on the line. “I respect your service to the country.” She bowed her head but then lifted her chin once more and smiled. “Two of my brothers-in-law served as well, so I’ve seen the brothers-in-arms, as you put it.” But then she wanted to get back on topic but wanted to be careful with her words. “Now, aside from having any blood family, is there someone you truly love…or loved?”

Deacon swallowed slowly, for the third time he looked at the picture. “As a young boy I never understood the notion of love. Mrs Latimer would read stories, fairy tales of finding that one true love. I never believed it until…” He paused for several moments, “Until Samantha. She was three years younger than me. Came to live with Mrs Latimer when I was ten. We would play together and she would read to me. She loves reading, her Mother was italian and died suddenly. She had no other family so went into the system. Even though I never understood the words, I would sit and listen as she read to me in Italian. When I left for the military we stayed in touch. She joined the air force when she was old enough and we sadly lost contact. I haven’t heard from her in several years. Our lives seeming to be so hectic that finding one another has taken a back seat. I’ve never forgotten her. I never will.”

His eyes have changed to having a great sadness in them. He cleared his throat and smiled to Kelly.

She returned his smile warmly, guessing the picture was of Samantha since he looked at it when he mentioned her. “She sounds lovely, and you never know what’ll happen in life. Maybe you’ll meet her again.” Kelly shrugged but then sat back in her chair and hugged an arm across her. “So on more lighter note,” her smile brightened but then hesitated, “At least, I hope it’s a brighter note. But anyway, ten years from now, where do you see yourself?”

Deacon smiled at her question. “You know that’s a very common question. But people normally say five years. Honestly, I’d like to imagine myself here. Still running the club, hopefully with Sam by my side. But the truth is you never know what’s around the corner. I may have to go into battle and fight again, perhaps not coming home. If I were to dream? I’d be married to Sam. Perhaps with children if that’s what we both wanted. If I get another chance with her, I will worship her. Protect her with every fiber of my being. Who knows? Perhaps the gods will grant me a second chance with my love for her.”

“You really do admire her, don’t you?” Kelly couldn’t help but smile. It was beautiful. So she decided to linger on this topic and leaned forward, setting her elbows on her knees and resting her chin in her palm. She smiled at him. “Okay, so you mentioned listening to her read in Italian, but what is your favorite memory of her?”

He smiled warmly. He adored his memories of Sam.  “She symbolizes to me everything that is pure and good in this world. My favorite memory? We would sneak out together at night, onto the roof of our house. Take some blankets and lie together looking at the stars. Rather than seeing the astrological symbols. Sam made up her own. There was a dog playing a flute. The cat dancing with a fish and my personal favorite a sheep playing Nintendo.” He grinned at the memory. “She had such a wild imagination. She wouldn’t only read in Italian but she’d tell me stories she made up in Italian. Then explain them in English so I’d understand.” He sighed heavily. “I miss her…”

Kelly could see how much he missed her. Just merely talking about her changed him completely. “And when did you realize you were in love with her?”

Deacon looked at her. “Fourteen. She was only eleven but mature beyond her years. We were walking home from school and she was telling me about the history class she’d had that day. Her teacher asked her about the civil war and she asked why they couldn’t study something different. She suggested the English Tudors. Her teacher was so impressed with her knowledge that he let her tell the class what she knew. I could see her passion, the way she spoke about learning different things. I knew then that I was in love with her and that I would die to protect her.”

“Then why did you join the military and leave her?” Kelly furrowed her brows.

His expression grows somewhat darker.  “Mrs Latimer was a charming, thoughtful and loving woman. Unfortunately her husband was quite the opposite. Not until I was fourteen did I realize how he looked at Sam. There was an atmosphere when he was around. He also detested that Mrs Latimer allowed Sam and I to share a room. When I was 18, Sam was 15. Mr Latimer came into the room and took Sam from her bed. He thought I was asleep. I wasn’t. I followed them and saw him trying to touch her and her fighting him back. I saw red and don’t remember much else. I came round with Sam in my arms crying, Mr Latimer on the floor covered in blood. The judge gave me ands choice. Go to prison. Or join the military. Sam begged me to join the military, she couldn’t stand the thought of me in prison because I was protecting her.” Only Sam and his Brothers knew that about him. He looked at Kelly to try and gauge her reaction.

Kelly nodded as she took all this in. Unfortunately, it didn’t surprise her, so she locked eyes with him. “You did what you had to do in that moment, and you were protecting her, and I hope you get to see her again sometime, so all of this may be resolved for you.” Kelly then leaned forward and clasped her hands together as she held his gaze. “However, here’s a question for you, if you could do that night all over again, would you change anything?”

He took a long deep breath. “The only way it would be different would be if Mr Latimer wasn’t so vile. I’d do it all over again to protect Sam. She’s always been with me in a way. Making sure I come back fighting.”

“So, your friends from the military—how did the three of you come to band together?”

Deacon grinned. “I was recruited for an assignment in Iraq. One of those ones you don’t talk about. William was our commanding officer and Xander the explosives expert. We worked together well and they kept us together and sent us all over the place to sort out any problems they needed fixing.” He turns serious for a moment. “They’re good men. Although it does get a little chaotic when we get together.” He smiled.

Kelly returned the smile. “So tell me about them. Who’s the crazy one? Who’s the one who gets everyone else in trouble? And who’s the one who has to pull everyone else out of that trouble?” Her eyes lit with humor as she tilted her head. “Or do you all just take turns with that?”

He chuckled. “William is the logical one. He’s the one who pulls Xander and myself out of trouble. Did you ever watch The Addams family? Xander is like Uncle Fester.  Loves dynamite and explosives. I’ve had to ban him from keeping any here for fear that he’d blow the place up. Xander is Russian. A difficult man to get to know but he’s great when you get past the quite arrogance. William is a natural born leader. A good commanding officer and fierce. Not someone you want to cross. He takes care of the security agency in Atlanta, he’s a well known bachelor there. Attends all the society gatherings and has women falling at his feet. But he doesn’t play on it.”

“I had a feeling Xander would be like that. I don’t know why!” Kelly snickered as she shook her head. “William sounds respectable, and at least he’s not a player. That’s refreshing. You though…” She paused to consider him for a moment. “As you said, you like control, and that can mean a lot of things, but we’re not here to talk about that.” She glanced at her watch and noticed the time and frowned. “Our time is nearly up, but we have time for another question—maybe two.” She nodded to herself and folded her hands on her lap and looked back at Deacon. “What is your greatest fear?”

Deacon smiled at her words about Xander and Will. When she asked her question he didn’t have to think about it. “Someone knocking on my door to tell me that Sam is lost to me forever.”

“Have you looked for her?” She tiled her head.

He nodded. “Yes. I’m lucky to have contacts in all branches of the military. Sam is in deep cover, contact from the outside world could get her killed. It kills me not to be able to help her, but I know how dangerous these things are.”

Understanding the risks, Kelly gave a slow nod. “And if you two do meet again, how do you imagine that happening? Ideally?”

He thought for a moment. “Ideally I’d love to go in and sweep her off her feet. But Sam isn’t that kind of girl. She’d love nothing more than a pizza under the night sky than a five star restaurant. I’d go to her and kiss her. Letting her know just how much I’ve missed her and that she saved my life so ma y times. Forgive me. I forgot to say thank you to your brothers for their service to our country.”

Kelly pulled back, brows furrowed at his last words. “I’m sorry, that last part—were you saying that to me or as if what you would say to her?” That he completely thrown her for a loop.

He smiled. “I was talking to you. You mentioned your brothers in law had served for our country.”

“Ah, yes.” Kelly nodded then gave him an apologetic smile. “Here I was wrapped up your imaginary scenario of reuniting with Samantha when you suddenly started speaking to me directly.” She chuckled but then looked at him. “Thank you. I’m quite proud of them. Now though, I believe I’ve taken enough of your time.” She gracefully rose to her feet. “Thank you so much for speaking with me, and I do hope you the best regarding Sam. You’ll see her again, I’m sure. Don’t give up on her—ever.”

Deacon stood and walked around the desk. “My apologies for the confusion. It was my pleasure to answer your questions. You can rest assured that I will never give up on Sam. I will be her protector until the day I die. It has been enjoyable meeting you, Miss Blanchard.” Deacon reached out, taking hold of Kelly’s hand, he brought it to his lips and placed a soft kiss on the back of her hand. He released her hand. “You have helped me a great deal more than you realize. It has been a long time since I talked about the past and Sam. I thank you.”

“It was my honor.” Kelly smiled, bowing her head briefly. “I suppose I shall see myself out. Thank you again! And take care.” With that, she headed for the door.

He shook his head. “Not at all, Miss Blanchard. Allow me to escort you out.” Deacon opened the doors, waiting until she had gone through. He closed them and walked her through the same route Violet had taken. “You are more than welcome to stay and have a drink at the bar.” He smiled softly.

Kelly paused, considered his words, but then looked him in the eye. She tried to smile but there was something else there—sad. “Thank you, but…my brother died because he was an alcoholic. I prefer to stay away from that environment, but I appreciate the offer.” She smiled at him—once more her warm and friendly self.

Deacon nodded, understanding completely.  “Addiction can take hold of even the strongest of men, Miss Blanchard. I am sure you will always remember your good times together. If you like there’s a library upstairs? I can have a non alcoholic beverage brought there for you.”

“I’m fine. Thank you.” She smiled up at him but then paused as she realized something. “Is there something further you wish to tell me? Something perhaps you haven’t told or discussed with anyone for a long time?” Sometimes just offering a listening ear helped.

He smiled. “You know my deepest fear and where my heart belongs. There are some who maintain that I have no heart. You have listened and have been a great source of comfort, Miss Blanchard. I can’t think of anything else I can tell you. However if I do, I will pass it to my authoress. I understand she spoke to you of her muse. Fascinating story. I tease her about it often.”

Kelly smiled. “Very well then. Perhaps we can talk again, but for now, I have elsewhere to be, someone else to meet. Once again, thank you for your time and your trust and all the things you have told me, but I must get going.”

Deacon nodded and opened the main door. “I’d like to speak to you again Miss Blanchard. Thank you for making the journey here. Take care and I look forward to speaking with you again.”

“You as well.” She nodded with a smile as she passed through the door then walked a few steps before she vanished from that world.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick’s first book of her ‘The Thornton Series’ is titled‘Literally Stalked’, and she is aiming to have it released at the end of this year. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter to stay updated!

Facebook: L.A. McKendrick

Twitter: @LexusRanger

Author Interview: Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick

(Kelly is written by Kelly Blanchard while Lex (Lynn) is written by Lynn-Alexandria)

With a basket-load of odd trinkets she had been given by others—from this world and from other worlds—Kelly put a golden candlestick on a shelf then placed beside it a vase with a single dried, red rose in it. She then rummaged through the basket, found an old, worn and torn deck of vintage cards. Wondering what the history was behind that, she shrugged and placed it on the shelf as well then moved further down the aisle.

The door chime sounded, and Kelly called out, “I’ll be right there.” She went to the end of the aisle, set the basket down out of the way near the antique piano—which sometimes was known to play tunes on its own—and then she headed back to the front of the shop and smiled at the woman she saw. “Hi! It’s wonderful to meet you!” She extended her hand to shake Lynn’s. “How would you like me to address you? Lynn? Alex?”

Walking through the door of the shop, Lex immediately felt at ease. It was what she would describe as charming and quaint. Hearing the voice calling from further in the shop, she made her way over to the counter. When Kelly emerged, a warm smile spread across her face. Lex took Kelly’s hand and shook it warmly. “It’s great to meet you too. I love your shop. It’s so welcoming and comfortable. You can call me Lex. Most people call me that. Thanks for the offer of an interview. It’s really exciting.”

“Well, it’s exciting to have you here! I know you’d probably want to browse the shop, but let’s go upstairs, shall we?” She motioned for Lex to follow as she led the way to the spiral stairs up to the sitting area in the loft. “Do you like chocolate chip cookies?” She gestured to the plate of cookies on the table. “Help yourself.”

The two of the sat down in lazy boy chairs in this warm and cozy environment—bookshelves lining the wall with a few antiques here and there, but Kelly kept an eye on what was happening below—having perfect view of the front door in case a customer came in.

However, her focus was on Lex across from her, and she smiled. “So, how long have you been writing?”

Nodding softly, Lex followed Kelly upstairs. The spiral staircase was exquisite, just like the rest of the store.  “It’s a beautiful place you have here.” She said softly.  Lex sank down on the lazy boy and sighed softly.  “Now this is a comfortable seat. I walked about eight miles with my dogs earlier. It’s good to sit down finally. Chocolate chip are my favorite. Thank you.” Lex took a cookie from the plate and took a small bite.  “Your antiques are beautiful. I like reading old books. I love how they smell. Anyway my writing. I started when I was about 8  years old. I’d write little stories at school and I had a book where I would keep doodles and stories I would make up. I was an avid reader as a child. Two things my Mum says about me is that as a child I was obsessed with two things—dogs and books. She’d usually find me lying with the dog reading to him. A habit I still have today. I read to my dogs all the time, I find it soothing and relaxing.” Lex took another little bite of the cookie, the chocolate melting in her mouth. She gave a small appreciative sigh and continued. “When I started secondary school we had an English class and it was there I really excelled and could get into the finer points of writing. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Except dog training.”

“Ah yes, dogs are wonderful creatures! I have one myself.” Kelly thought back to her Doberman back home and figured she should have let the dog come with her to work today, but oh well!

She snatched a cookie off the plate and broke off a piece. “So did you have someone in your life that was really influential in getting you ‘serious’ about writing? I mean, someone who challenged you?” She glanced at Lex and smiled. “Or were you just self-motivated?”

“When I was in year four at school there was an English teacher, Mrs McLaughlan. She would give me books to read and offered to read my stories, she would give me feedback. She really helped me a lot.” Lex smiled softly, remembering Mrs McLaughlan and her little glasses, standing in front of the chalkboard discussing the finer points of Shakespeare. “Since then you could say that my muse comes in the form of a person. Someone I have known for fourteen years. They have seen me through some very tough times and taking to them really gets my creative juices flowing. He’d probably be embarrassed to know that. I’ve never told anyone about that until now.” Clearing her throat. She finished off her cookie and placed her hands on the arms of the lazy boy. Her cheeks were blushed crimson—something that always happened when she admitted something deep.

Kelly leaned forward. “Do you want to give a name to this person? C’mon, you offered me a mystery here, and I probe.” She smirked but then straightened and lifted her hand. “Of course, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

Lex grinned as her whole face turned a crimson red. “Not a name but I will give you three details. He’s American. We have never met physically, and he used to be in the military.” Lex brought her hand up to fan her face lightly. “I hate it when I blush.” She laughed softly.

“Hey, it’s okay!” Kelly laughed then motioned to her own face. “When I blush, my entire face goes beet red, and it’s just bad. No way of hiding, so I completely understand and won’t try to make you blush, but this individual DOES sound intruging.” She winked at Lex then sat back in her chair, arms on the armrests. “So, do you write short stories, novels, poetry, or what exactly?”

Lex chuckled and lifted her hand, one finger pointed up.  “I will give you one more piece of information, and I think you will like it. My muse? I’m deeply in love with him and that will never change.” She leaned back in the lazy boy and considered the question for several moments. “All of the above I would say. I have a poetry book out called Primal Passions. It’s quite a steamy selection of poetry. I enjoy writing short stories and am working on a series of novels. I work as a freelance writer and am a columnist for a dog paper in the UK. But my first writing love is fiction. I write erotica, got into it five years ago and never looked back.”

“Interesting…” Kelly nodded slowly, lost in thought, but then she shook her head, blinked, and came back to the moment. She chuckled. “Sorry, I’m VERY tempted to go back your muse and pester you with questions there, but I know we’re supposed to focus you as a writer. I’m sure we’ll come back to him.” She smirked. “But anyway! Quite a wide range of writing that you have there! Honestly, I’m glad you’ve written poetry because it does had something unique to even prose writing, so well done with that.” She nodded at Lex and then tilted her head. “What story are you working on now?” Then she added, “And does your muse happen to be one of the characters in this book?” She winked.

Lex chuckled at her words and let out a long breath. Clasping her hands together on her lap, she looked at Kelly. “The story I’m working on is an erotic romance. It’s a series I call ‘The Thornton Series’. It has BDSM factors in it as well as a riveting storyline. My main character is a man called Deacon McClain. He is an ex military special ops soldier who owns a BDSM club in the town of Thornton. He has a stake in a security company with two of his friends William and Alexander. Anyway. An old comrade shows up at the club with news that Samantha Detori, a woman Deacon grew up with in a foster home has been captured while on a mission and is being auctioned off as the ultimate prize by a twisted Dom. Deacon and his men set a plan in motion to infiltrate the auction and get Sam out. And yes. My muse does have a character in the book. But which one?” Lex grinned at the little teaser she gaves Kelly at the end before winking.

“I see.” Kelly nodded and reached for the plate of cookies for another cookie. “By the way, you may have another one if you’d like.” She then scooted back in her chair as she pondered her next question. “So is this a good guy vs bad guy kind of story—rescue the damsel in distress, or is it much deeper than that?” She raised her brows as she broke off a piece of her cookie then ate it.

Leaning forward in the chair, Lex reached for another cookie. She broke off a piece and held it in her hand.

“It’s deeper than that. You see thanks to a certain well publicized book. People have a serious misinformation about BDSM and the relationship between a dominant and a submissive. I also deal with things like PTSD in my book. I want to show people that no matter what happens to them, they can overcome it. It might take a lot of work but it’s possible. I also have a very twisted side and writing bad guys is good to get that out of the system.” Lifting the piece of cookie to her mouth, she ate it and slid back on the chair again.

Kelly nodded. “There always needs to be a balance, so that’s good that you’re trying to provide it.” She smiled but then glimpsed at the clock on the wall and frowned when she saw the time. “We’re about out of time! Always hard to believe.” She wagged her head. “But before we end, I’ve got a question about your muse. Sorry, I keep coming back to that, but he knows of you right? And why haven’t you two met? In person, at least?”

The smallest hint of sadness filled her eyes for a second before she shook her head softly. “Life has got in the way. We had lost touch for a while and that was when I had visited the States. It seems to be one of those situations where there is never an ideal time. We have talked about it, but things have just happened and it’s not been possible. You don’t have to apologize for asking. I can imagine what thoughts and questions are going through your mind.”

“Well, that’s unfortunately, and I’m sorry about that. That can be very difficult, but at least he’s been an inspiration to you.” With a kind but understanding smile, Kelly rose to her feet then gestured for Lex to follow her down the spiral stairs. As they came to the bottom floor, she turned to her guest and smiled. “Thanks again for meeting with me. It was fun! And you’re more then welcome to browse around!” She gestured to the shelves. “Never know what you’ll find.”

Rising to her feet, she followed Kelly down the gorgeous spiral staircase. When they’d reached the bottom she had already decided to have a better look around the shop. “Kelly it has been a pleasure. You’re an awesome interviewer. Certainly know how to make someone feel at ease. If you need anything else then don’t hesitate to get in touch.” Offering her hand, she shook Kelly’s hand softly and then looked out to the store. “I am sure I’m going to find lots of things I will love.”

“Just don’t get lost. Anything could be a portal to another world, and plot bunnies like hiding everywhere and will bite.” Kelly chuckled as she headed back to the front counter. “Who knows, maybe you’ll find a time machine or portal to an alternative universe…” She left it hanging with that and a smile.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick’s first book of her ‘The Thornton Series’ is titled ‘Literally Stalked’, and she is aiming to have it released at the end of this year. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter to stay updated!

Facebook: L.A. McKendrick

Twitter: @LexusRanger