Character Interview: Arthur David’s Blackmail

I had the opportunity to sit down with Arthur David’s fictional secret agent, Blackmail, from his sci-fi spy thriller novel ‘Agents of the Third Party’. I learned some things about her agency, The Third Party, as well as her own motives to work for them. 

15731192_10155525182054386_1342396468_n

BlackMail sat on a stone bench that was out on her estate. It was still a little crisp outside in New York at this time of year, but not so bad that she felt the need to be inside. Water babbled through a fountain behind her, the sound helping to calm her. Trees surrounded the yard, each flanked by heaters keeping the bats that live there warm throughout the year.

She tapped her foot impatiently as she waited for an interview to start that she shouldn’t be having. The Party didn’t look nicely on anyone that gives out information on them, but she was going to do it anyways.

“Ma’am, a car has arrived at the front gate.” Alfred’s voice seemed to come from nowhere, just as it always did. “The occupant claims to have an appointment with you, shall I allow her in?”

BlackMail toyed with the idea of having Alfred send her away, she really shouldn’t be doing this. She felt like she should have some record though. She had been witness to too many agents who had died, the world never knowing what they had done for good or bad. She wasn’t looking for fame, just for someone out there to know that there were things happening, there were people making the world better.

“Alfred, let her in. I’ve kept her out there for too long already, and we really don’t have the time to waste. And make sure Jade doesn’t come around or that Kelly is here, this meeting is private.”

“Yes Ma’am. I’m opening the gate for Ms. Kelly right away. How shall I keep Jade away?”

“I really don’t care Alfred, lock her in her room if you have to, just keep this private.”

“Right away Ma’am. Excelsior!”

BlackMail got up to her feet trying to hide the smile Alfred’s last exclamation brought. He always reminded her of her great-grandfather, and he had always made her smile. She composed herself as the car with Kelly silently drives up to her fountain, lights along the driveway directing the automated system to a spot to park at.

Once Kelly parked and climbed out of the car, she looked around, taking in the sight of the estate. Then she saw a woman a little ways off, so Kelly dug her hands into her coat pockets and headed her way. “I’m assuming you are the one they call BlackMail? Thank you for meeting with me. Quite a place you have here.” She glimpsed around before looking back at BlackMail. “Is this something from your family or does the Party just pay their top agents that well?” She smiled as she asked this.

BlackMail smiled back at Kelly and glanced around her estate. “A little bit of both. My family was already very well off before I joined The Party. The Party certainly does take care of its agents, and there have been a few missions that have been pretty lucrative to me personally.”

“I’m sure.” Kelly nodded as she continued to approach. “So, was your family in politics or so? Or just….wisely invested?” She then sat on the bench across from BlackMail and observed her.

“No, my families money…” BlackMail laughed as she thought on where they got started “My family came into money thanks to my great-grandfather. Not a politician, though he did have a run in with politics. Nothing overly bad, more of the knee jerk reactions politicians have to things they don’t understand. He was a very creative man, and he turned that into a fair amount of wealth. He wasn’t always the best at managing it though. However the rest of the family was able to take what he had given them and turned it into much more.” BlackMail gestured around at the garden around them, “They had no idea, my family, what I would end up doing, what that wealth would ultimately help finance.”

“Interesting.” Kelly leaned forward, clasping her hands together. “So do you help finance The Party? Or just your own missions and side projects?”

BlackMail laughed softly for a second. “Oh no, The Party is well financed without me. As I said earlier, they take care of us pretty well. It’s an organization of global reach, interests spread out all over the world in just about anything you can imagine. The Party likes to have its fingers in everything, from the mundane such as entertainment, companies that specialize in computer science and security, Travel, banks and everything in between. I know none of that sounds particularly threatening, but The Party is involved in defense contracts, weapons, and scientific research for curing disease, to the worst of new weaponry. My wealth, really is just for me.”

Kelly smiled as she nodded. “At least you have it and can do whatever you will with it.” With that, she sat back and considered BlackMail for a moment. “I was informed you joined The Party at age 18, so what was life like before you became an agent? Do you have any siblings to speak of? And what of your parents”

BlackMails eyes unfocused for a moment as she thought back to the days before The Party.” Life was normal, I guess. I’m not really even sure what that means anymore. I grew up with my older sister, and my mother and father. My parents weren’t much for flashing our wealth around. You wouldn’t know it from my home now, but we grew up in a 3 bedroom house, with Toyotas in the driveway. They wanted us to know how it was to live like everyone else. Sort of. I mean, we had the latest things, traveled around the world. But nothing outwardly screamed ‘Filthy Rich’.” BlackMail paused a moment to catch her breath and gather her thoughts before continuing. “They, they’re all gone now. I’m the last one in my family. I don’t really see that changing any time soon. Very few agents live to be old or to have families.” A grim smile flickered across her face replaced with a bit of sadness, “My family tree will probably end with me. Thats why, ” BlackMail nodded towards her estate, “I built all this, have all the things I do. There won’t be anyone for me to pass it on to. I might as well enjoy it.”

Kelly frowned when she heard that. “And you’re happy with that. Happy to work so hard all your life and do all the deeds that you must do only for your name to perish with you when you die, for your wealth to go to someone you don’t know, and for you to be forgotten in history? Is it worth it?”

“Am I happy with it? I don’t know that I’m happy with it, I’ve come to terms with it I think. I know that everything I’m doing is for the greater good of humanity, for the betterment of the world. My life, my happiness is a small price to pay for the good that will come from it all.” She sighed and took a deep breath. “I asked you here, because we, Party agents, have done so much, changed the world in ways no one knows. The Party prefers is that way, but I wanted someone to know we exist, that we were here and we changed the world. I can live with that, I can die with that. My old partner, Aurora, taught me that. She died for those ideals, its the least I can do.”

“I understand that, yet you are not Aurora. Do you held firm to those ideals?” Kelly raised her brows as she observed BlackMail. “And please, be honest with me…and with yourself. I just want the truth because this may be the only time you will be able to truly be honest.”

“Those ideals have been my entire life. Even as a child, my parents would take us traveling. I saw the world, the incredible natural beauty and wonder of humanities genius.” BlackMail turned away staring off into the distance at the New York skyline, “But they didn’t shield us from the harsh realities of the world. Poverty, hunger, sickness were everywhere we looked. These things should not exist, not when we can fix them, not when we have the ability to ease or erase that suffering. My work with The Party will help to end all of that.” She turned back to Kelly “It’s a small price to pay. My life, one that may not have appeared to be one of privilege, yet very much was. To dedicate the rest of it, however long or short it may be, to that. It’s something I think that would have made them all proud. It’s something thats made it all worth it.”

“But do you think it’s truly possible…to accomplish what The Party wants to accomplish?” Kelly leaned in. “Yes, while it is good not to want hunger or poverty or sickness, and it would be nice if those didn’t exist, there are other evils that exist within each one of us that…if we have the ideal, someone will become discontent, and it’s a very slippery slope from that to full out war especially if the wrong people have the power.”

“Oh, I understand the evils that exist in us very well. We aren’t a charity, Party agents aren’t running around feeding the hungry or taking care of the sick. Assassination, sabotage, blackmailing, those are the tools we tend to employ. I told you earlier that The Party has its fingers in many pies, that isn’t done for money. Entertainment allows us to shape the attitudes of the public. Computer software and security. You put our systems on your computers and phones, and give The Party access to everything about you.” BlackMail gestured out towards the NewYork skyline, now filled with green growing along the sides and tops of the skyscrapers. “None of what you see out there happened by chance. America’s politicians didn’t suddenly see the light for fighting climate change and pollution. Some very dirty information suddenly appeared and would have made its way to the media. Some of that was because they were genuinely dirty, some was manufactured by Party Agents. All true, but things that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.  We work hard to curb the evils and excesses of those in power, and we do not always do so nicely. When the wrong people have the power, we try to work with them, reign them in, put them on the right path. Sometimes that doesn’t happen and then new people get the power.”

Kelly nodded as she came to understand. It reminded her of another agency she’d heard of from a TV show but couldn’t recall the name right now, but it made sense to her now. “I understand better now.” She sat back on the bench. “So, I understand Aurora brought you into The Party, but how did you come to meet her?”

“She and I had been very close for as long as I can remember. Growing up she had just been there, an ever present part of my life. Until she wasn’t anymore. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without her, or what I would have become. Actually it would likely have ended up very similar to this. The Party seeks out its agents, not the other way around. It’s hard to apply for an agency you don’t know exists. Usually once The Party decides it wants someone, they end up working for them one way or the other. They most likely don’t even realize it. All those pies The Party has its fingers in. So even without Aurora, I would probably have ended up here anyways. Though I don’t think I’d be quite the agent I am now without her.”

“Are you saying that that the Party wanted you, so they sent Aurora to be a part of your life and gradually inform you about the Party and at the right moment bring you into it? Or what exactly? I mean, was she always an agent the entire time you knew her?”

“No, we grew up together. Both kids. I’m not really sure how or when she became a part of The Party. I don’t know when The Party became interested in me, if it was as a child or even earlier due to my families wealth, or later on in high school when I excelled to the top of my class. It may have been some combination of everything. I’m not in recruiting, though apparently I am now a trainer and a mentor.”

“Ah, I see.” This made sense to her now. “And your mentor was someone named Muse? What can you tell me about Muse? What was it like training under Muse?” It was odd asking these questions for Kelly because oftentimes she was considered the Muse, but Kelly dismissed this and looked to BlackMail for answers.

“Harsh. My first ‘mission’ Muse sent me on sent me into a random rundown shack of a house in the middle of nowhere. Supposedly, someone there had managed to develop a cure for HIV. It looked more like a meth lab then a facility for curing disease. But in I went to find the secret formula. God, actually talking about it makes it sound like a bad movie plot.” BlackMail pulled back her sleeve to show off a scar along the underside of her left arm. “I got this in that shack, when Muse caused it to collapse on top of me. It  was made of something that wouldn’t kill me when it fell on top of me, but it didn’t feel good either. When I managed to crawl out, she congratulated me on my death. That wasn’t the last time I ‘died’ under her tutelage. But it was designed to make me think and keep me cautious. To keep me from rushing in without thinking. It was necessary, it’s kept me alive. Earlier I told you most agents don’t live long enough to retire, Muse is one of the few who has.”

When Kelly heard this tale, she lifted her brows. “Well, she certainly sounds like a rough mentor. And you’ve said she’s survived long enough to retire? And the fact that you’ve survived longer than the average age of agents shows that Muse’s methods probably helped prolong your life. I’m assuming you’re teaching Jade similar things?”

“A friend, and fellow agent, Doomsday helped me set up her first mission. Sent her out onto a boat owned by a company with information on The Party. It was her job to find and destroy that information. She did fairly well, but ended up jumping out into the water in January, not a very good idea, and then I shot her.” BlackMail smiled at the reaction she received from that. “Not literally shot her, though Doomsday nearly did. Well not really though, he’s a marksman, he doesn’t miss. I made it very clear that she had died on her mission. She wasn’t happy with me. Doomsday wasn’t thrilled with my training exercise either, but he let me do what needed to be done.”

Kelly chuckled when she heard this, and she shook her head. “I’m guessing that, ‘you die on your first day of training’ isn’t on the contract you sign when you sign up.” She smiled although she suspected The Party didn’t have any actual contracts like that, but still, her point was made. “So what is like, being on THIS end of training?”

BlackMail made a sound of frustration. “Aggravating. Jade listens, thinks about what I tell her. She was pretty mad that first night I killed her. But she took it, learns, grows. But she’s still headstrong, questions me on everything, wants to know why we’re doing what we do. She can’t take an order and simply follow it.  I’m very proud of her. She’s going to be a great agent someday.”

Kelly smiled at the obvious admiration BlackMail had for Jade. “But has she taught you anything in return? You know how students tend to accidentally teach their masters something while being taught.”

“She’s certainly given me a new appreciation for what Muse went through with me. And to never underestimate her. She’s surprised me more then once particularly during some of our sparring sessions,”

Kelly chuckled when she heard this. “Sounds like she’s going to be an incredible agent for sure.” Then Kelly paused, considering the course of their conversation, and then she smiled because she knew her next question. “So, tell me, why is Zenith so annoying?”

BlackMail rolled her eyes at the mention of Zenith’s name. “Aside from him constantly inviting me over or trying to sleep with me. I’m surprised he hasn’t tried the inducer yet. Well no, that would have repercussions he would not enjoy. Zenith hands me my assignments, checks on me, assigned Jade to me. It gives him an inflated sense of worth I think. Unfortunately I can’t get a new contact, and I can’t kill him, ago I’m stuck dealing with him. Fortunately he’s only annoying.”

Kelly chuckled. “Well, at least you can take you anger out when you have to kill an assignment or something.” She shrugged. “Now, our time is almost up, but I’ve been curious. ‘BlackMail’ is your codename, but what is your real name? Or does it have no meaning to you anymore?” She locked eyes with the agent.

BlackMail returned the stare with the muse, “It doesn’t matter anymore. BlackMail is who I am now. The person I was before is gone. Very little of who she was remains. I’ve embraced this life, it’s really all I have anymore and all I’ll ever be.”

Kelly nodded. She had expected that answer. “Well then, BlackMail, this conversation probably hasn’t gone the way you expected it to, but I do appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.” Kelly rose to her feet. “And thank you for answering my questions. You sound like you have had a very interesting life. Be careful out there. Survive long enough, maybe you’ll be able to retire.” She smiled at her.

BlackMail smiled back as reaches out to shake her hand. “Nothing ever goes the way I expect. We’ll see what the future holds for us all.”

Kelly nodded. “And so we shall. Take care of yourself.” With that and a final smile, Kelly headed for her car.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Arthur David’s book ‘Agents of the Third Party’ is available on Amazon. Don’t forget to follow him on Facebook and Twitter for more updates!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Agents-Third-Party-BlackMail-Beginning-ebook/dp/B01N7OR766 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook: Http://www.facebook.com/arthurdavid80

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rubix510

Blog: https://arthurdavidblog.wordpress.com

Advertisements

Author Interview: Arthur David

In this interview, I met with sci-fi spy thriller author, Arthur David, to discuss his new book ‘Agents of the Third Party’. This is our meeting. ‘Kelly’ was written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Arthur’ was written by Arthur David.

15731192_10155525182054386_1342396468_n

Night had come, and Kelly came to the observatory where Arthur David asked her to meet him for the interview. She gazed around at the clear view of the night sky this place offered, and she smiled. It reminded her a lot of home, living in the country with millions of stars overhead every night without the pollution of too much light. She’d never been to an observatory although she always wanted to visit one, so this would be interesting.

Stepping into it, she found the massive chamber empty of people. “Hello?” She called out, and then she passed through, going out back where she found someone looking through a telescope. Kelly smiled. “Arthur David?” When he looked up at her and straightened, she reached out her hand. “I’m Kelly. It’s great to meet you. How’s the view out there?” She motioned to the stars?

He took her hand smiling then glanced up towards the stars. “Its wonderful, still one of my favorite sights. I never get tired of looking at the stars.” He motioned towards his telescope, “Would you like to take a look, its an incredible view.”

“Sure.” Kelly smiled as she stepped up to the telescope and took a look. “Wow…it is stunning.” After a moment of searching the stars, she finally stepped back and smiled once more at Arthur. “So, is this a hobby of yours?”

“Yes, I’ve always been fascinated by space and the stars, ever since I was a child.” He turned around to take in the night sky as well as the large telescopes around them. “As a seven year old, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Most kids want to be firefighters or police or something. But I knew I was going to be an astronomer.” He smiled somewhat sadly, “That didn’t quite happen, but that love I knew, it never went away.”

“I’ve always loved the stars too, but…couldn’t pass astronomy class.” Kelly chuckled as she shook her head, thinking back to her college days. “However, it’s a wonderful hobby to have. Now, I know we’re here to talk about your writing and such, but every writer comes from a different walk of life. I’m always curious what those are. So, are you a full time writer, or do you have another job?”

“Writing is another hobby though another one I truly enjoy. It’s something to help pass the nights when its raining, or I’ve decided it’s just to cold to be outside. In real life during the day I work in retail, selling wireless phones and products.” Arthur waved his hand towards his telescope and kits with various eyepieces and cameras, “It’s not nearly as glamours or exciting as the worlds I build on the computer screen, or as bright as this makes the nights sky, but it does pay the bill and keeps the family fed. It’s been a better job then I ever would have imagined it could be.”

Kelly nodded as she looked up at the night sky. “At least it’s something.” She smiled at him. “So, when did you first become interested in writing?”

Arthur’s eyes lost focus for a moment as he thought back to when he really started doing some type of writing. “Back in high school I suppose. It wasn’t something I really had taken up as much as I do now, but I remember taking those prompts in English, and spinning stories of previous lives. I had entered into a contest to create a TV screen play at one point in high school as well.” Arthur laughed for a second at the memory of it, “It had been based pretty heavily on a book I had read, and probably wasn’t very good. But it was an old early attempt.”

Arthur took a moment to breathe and stretched his arms out behind him before continuing. “It wasn’t really until later though, while in college, that I really started to take up writing, A friend of mine had been writing something, and had ended up encouraging me to do so as well. It wasn’t really anything I had considered before then. But I took her up on it, and my first book was born.”

As he said all this, Kelly watched him and had to smile. Every author she spoke with had the same look on their face when they were thinking back to how they came to where they were as authors and what brought them to this point. “And from there you started writing more seriously then?”

“I started writing different things, I found a site, worth1000.com that held at the very least, weekly writing contests which I really enjoyed. They were pretty small stories, maybe eight hundred words and no real prize other then pride I suppose. But that site really helped by giving me other prompts that I might not have written on otherwise, and helped to develop me with help from the great community that it had. I found NaNoWriMo from there as I looked for other writing contests and communities.” He laughed for a second thinking of the various stories he had penned on that site, “Writing as been an off and on hobby for me for a long time. Something I do between the stars, reading, and everything else that comes up in life.” Arthur grinned as another memory crossed his mind, “Not to mention the most important things, trying to pass on and grow those same types of passions with my own children and of course taking care of my somehow very patient and understanding wife.”

Kelly smiled when she heard all this. “Certainly sounds like you have your hands full. However though, I heard you’re publishing a book soon? Or have published a book? That means you’ve come far with your writing. Telling about me about this book. What is it about?”

He laughed a little, “That’s a story in and of itself. When I wrote my first book, the one my friend got me to start, I realized that it was missing something, it wasn’t the whole story and needed something more. So I started a second book, that took place before the first. The Star Wars prequels were still coming out at the time, so I figured, hey if Lucas can do it, so can I. Only I’m releasing them in order.” Arthur took a moment to breathe and gather his thoughts before continuing. “This one, about to be released in a few days, the prequel of sorts, revolves around a woman BlackMail. She’s a secret agent in the year 2047 but for a shadowy organization called The Third Party that doesn’t belong to any particular government or organization but is bent on changing the world for its vision of the future. They do have some lofty visions, the end of war, hunger, poverty. However its a very ‘End justifies the means’ group as they don’t really worry about how or who may get hurt for their vision of the future.”

“Third Party…that’s interesting. Could be taken several different ways. I like it.” She grinned at Arthur. “So, you said it focuses on BlackMail? Is she discontent with the Third Party? Is she realizing things are not what they seem? Or why exactly is she the focus of the story?” Kelly furrowed her brows as she observed Arthur.

“The funny thing about that name, is it was meant to be a place holder. One of the most difficult things I do, agonize for long periods, is come up with names for things. So glad I let my wife name the kids, They would be ten before I managed to decide on one.” Arthur laughs then shakes his head slightly to get back on track, “I think it works out well though since they really are the third party to things happening. But in this story, BlackMail is considered one of, if not, the top agent for The Party. She gets tasked with training a young woman, Jade, who they believe is talented enough to be just as good of an agent, if not better, then BlackMail. BlackMail isn’t discontent with The Party, and she knows she doesn’t know the whole story, she doesn’t want to, thats not how it works. Even for a secret agent its best not to know everything. The story instead focuses on a mission BlackMail and Jade take on that does end up changing both of them. If that change is good or bad” Arthur grins a bit, “Well you’ll have to read it to find out.”

“Very intriguing story for sure.” Kelly nodded as she let her mind wrap around everything he had said. “It certainly sounds like it has a lot of potential!” Then she briefly checked her phone and frowned. “Our time is almost up. Can’t believe how much time flies! However…” She pocketed away her phone again and looked back at Arthur. “What is something, if anything, you’d like your readers to take from the story? Something they’d remember long after they’ve read it?”

Arthur furrowed his brow as he thought on Kelly’s question. “If anything I just hope people enjoy it. I’m not looking to make any kind of deep statement or anything with this book. I certainly have my own thoughts and ideas on most things in the world, many of my friends can attest to how I think on politics and such, probably much to their annoyance. ” He laughed, “But none of that is really on display in the book too much, well maybe a little in The Parties ideals, though I would never agree with their methodology.” He paused, taking a moment to breathe before continuing. “Like I said, I really just want it to be something people enjoy and find entertaining. I was always annoyed back in English class dissecting books looking for deeper meaning. Can’t a book just be fun? If someone enjoys reading it and has fun in BlackMail’s world, thats all I really want.”

“I’m sure people will enjoy it. And I hope you the best. Now though, unfortunately it’s time for me to head out. It was really wonderful to meet you.” Kelly shook Arthur’s hand then gestured to the telescope. “And have fun gazing at the stars.” She smiled at him. “You take care, okay?”

“It was great meeting you too, Kelly. Feel free to come back any time, and always look up at night. There’s a whole universe above us. Have a good night, Kelly, I look forward to hearing more from you.”

“And you as well!” With a wave and a smile, Kelly headed out.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Arthur David’s book ‘Agents of the Third Party’ is available on Amazon. Don’t forget to follow him on Facebook and Twitter for more updates!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Agents-Third-Party-BlackMail-Beginning-ebook/dp/B01N7OR766 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook: Http://www.facebook.com/arthurdavid80

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rubix510

Blog: https://arthurdavidblog.wordpress.com

Character Interview: Nancy A. Nation’s Susan

In this interview, I had the privilege to sit down with Nancy A. Nation’s character, Susan, and come to understand her otherworldly adventures as well as hopes she has for her future, especially as she continues making pottery. ‘Kelly’ was written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Susan’ was written by Nancy A. Nation.

newest-book

A week after Christmas, Susan had agreed to meet Kelly, the Muse, at the local diner in Firth, Idaho. Outside the sky was partly cloudy and a light snow was falling. On a day like today, Bosloe’s cafe makes the best stew. She walked in and asked the hostess for Kelly’s table and spotted her right away. “Hi, are you Kelly?”

“Yes, and you must be Susan.”

Just as Susan was about to remove her sweater the server asked if they wanted anything. “Just hot chocolate for me, Kelly? I’m buying,” Susan responded.

“I already got my hot chocolate, but thanks.” Kelly smiled at Susan as she rose to her feet and shook Susan’s hand before both of them sat down at the table. “Thank you for meeting with me. How are you doing today?”

“I’m fine, thanks. Sorry, I’m late, but I had to get ride with my friend, Nancy.”

“That’s quite all right. Don’t worry.” Kelly brushed it off and smiled at her. “Now, I understand you took up pottery classes. I’ve *always* wanted to do pottery, so what is it like? Do you like it?”

“Yes, it was fun. I thought the process would be messy, but my neighbor convinced me to go with her,” Susan explained.

Kelly nodded when she heard this. “Well, I’ll definitely have to try my hand at it sometime. So tell me, I understand you got involved in investigating a few murders?” She furrowed her brows. “How did that happen? I mean, are you a detective as well?” Kelly was a little confused because the information she had gotten ahead of time had been vague, but that allowed for more questions anyway.

Susan leaned forward. “No, not really, things just happen around me and I just want to find out. Our local police officer tolerates my theories. I’m just an ordinary housewife that gets into the wrong places at the wrong times.”

Kelly raised her brows. “So what have you discovered?” She leaned in quite curious.

“Let me back up a moment. When my husband died, I was, how shall I say, not all there. Maybe it was myself or the people in the other world, Vesda. There those people helped me return to my home and find out what really happened to my husband. Eventually, my friends and I found out he was murdered. Having that solved, me and my pottery classmates walked in on the first murder. A man was head down in a rotating clay bowl. Not a pretty sight.” Susan hot chocolate arrived, and she took a sip.

Kelly grimaced when she heard this. “Definitely doesn’t sound like it.” She shook her head and sat back in her chair, reaching for her cup of hot chocolate on the table. “So this other world, Vesda…tell me about. What’s it like?” She smiled at Susan before taking a sip of her drink.

“Thankfully, it’s gone now. It was an enclosed world run by my little friend and gnome, Hobnobby. Another friend as we were escaping, blew Vesda up. As I was learning pottery techniques, Hobs, as that is what I call him, located a underground fairy world called Bailory. Naturally, he gets me involved after the second murder. Honestly, our little town is usually so quiet.”

Kelly chuckled when she heard this last part. “Aren’t all small towns?” But still, this other world bewildered her. “So….there was another world, but it’s been blown up now? And you’re thankful it’s gone. Was it a bad place then?”

Susan sipped some more from her cup and arranged a napkin under it. “Sort of, I just wanted to leave and get back home. I kept bugging the two scientists who wanted to do other things until one them built a machine than transported us back to my home. Bailory is kind of like Vesda, in the way that the people, if you can call elves and Norse gods people, can’t leave their world.” Susan brushed her short blond hair to one side.

“Ah.” Kelly nodded. She could understand the desire to return home. “So, now that you’re back, are you content? Knowing there’s more to life than just this…world?” Kelly gestured to their surroundings.

“I am but I’m bored. That’s why when my neighbor suggested the pottery class, I jumped right in. At this time of my life I don’t have to work, but I do love to making pies. My other friend from Vesda has a diner down the road and I make pies for him to sell.”

Kelly nodded when she heard this. It was hard to find a thrill in a small town after visiting an altogether different world. “Susan, I understand you had a husband who you lost. Now, I understand it may be a topic you won’t want to discuss, but can you tell me what he was like?” Kelly offered a kind, warm smile. “He must have been an amazing guy.”

“He was, he was my rock, my support, my advisor. Unfortunately when he passed, I discovered, like most women in my position, I didn’t know the first thing about electronics, hot water heaters, you name it. All the stuff that keeps a house going. My friend at the cafe, Bosloe, and my friend’s husband next door are always helping me get something fixed. Why just the other day, my hall ceiling fixture fell down. What a mess.” Susan relaxed and took another sip of her drink.I forgot to mention that I miss my Henry.”

Kelly nodded. “And it’s a good thing you do. Shows how much you loved him.” She smiled. “How did you two meet?”

“We met in college, but when he joined the insurance firm in town and I had a little girl, we didn’t get our degrees. Say there’s something I could do. When my daughter, Jan moved out to go to college, Henry and I christened her empty bedroom, if you know what I mean. I have been looking at the packed boxes with his clothes. There’s a chore I don’t really want to do.”

“Because you don’t want to let him go.” Kelly stared at Susan, observing her. She leaned forward. “Susan.” Waiting until she had eye contact with her, Kelly finally went on, “Go ahead and talk. You’ve never going to see me again, and I’m not going to tell anyone what you say, so….whatever you say is safe with me. It’s hard to lose someone that close to you, and it’s hard that life just moves on. I’m sure you hard the phrase now. I’m sure you’re also annoyed with how everyone says ‘I’m sorry’ because it doesn’t change the fact that you lost the love of your life. So…go ahead, vent if you want. Cry. I don’t mind.” She offered Susan a kind smile. “I’m here to listen. Not to judge.”

Susan smiled back. “I’m doing better now, it has been six months since he died. Just the other day, my neighbor wanted to know if there was going to be anything between Bosloe and me. Well, I set her straight. I don’t want to think of that in my life right now. Getting Hobs out of trouble seems to keep me from thinking of the sad times. Ahem, I’m certainly not interested in that little old man,” Susan clarified and brushed her hair aside again.

Kelly chuckled. She could respect that, so she sat back in her chair. “Well then, what are you planning on doing with your future then?”

“Keep up with my pottery, I converted Henry’s old study into an art room where I can relax and read. I even had a wall knocked out to install a large picture window. Going back to college maybe hard as I’m 46 now. I’ll think about that. Occasionally, I still visit Hobs in Bailor. At least that is still there. I forgot, I’m going on a cruise.”

“College is definitely a possibility, and 48 isn’t old.” Kelly smiled at Susan. “My mom would whack you over the head if she heard you say that because she’s much older than that.” Then she heard the bit about the cruise. “Ah, a cruise! Sounds exciting. Are you going to try and travel the world eventually? I mean, after traveling to ANOTHER world, exploring this one won’t seem so daunting.”

“Maybe, what started out as a Christmas gift to my wonderful next door neighbors, backfired on me, when Larry offered me a ticket to join them. Henry and I did a cruise once to the Caribbean when we were first married, but nothing since.” Susan folded the chocolate stained napkin into a smaller square.

“So will you be going alone?” Kelly lifted her brows before taking another drink of her hot chocolate.

“Just with my neighbors as far as I know. Maybe getting aboard a ship will seem normal in my life. The people at the pottery shop and in Bailory were weird enough. We are flying to SanDiego, then flying to Oahu to take the ship around the Hawaiian islands. It should be fun and relaxing,” Susan said folding her hands together on the table.

“Sounds like it.” Kelly then tilted her head as she observed Susan. “Something seems to be bothering you though. Are you nervous about something?”

“I have just never talked to a muse before. Your life must be interesting. I shouldn’t have had the hot chocolate but I’m fine now. What makes me nervous is surprises that I didn’t expect. Like when my husband’s murderer came through my bedroom window. But that was a long time ago.”

“Talking with me is just like talking with any ordinary person,” Kelly reassured her with a kind smile, but then she furrowed her brows when she heard what she said about the murderer. “Okay, now I have to ask, what exactly happened with your husband? Were you there?”

“My husband and his car was forced off a bridge over the Snake River. I had nightmares every morning for a long time. When the murderer forced me into Henry’s study, Hobs and my other friends saved the day. He did it again when one of the bad guys was after us in the old warehouse.” Susan shook her head not wanting to remember.

“Hobs seems to save the day on a regular basis,” Kelly observed with a small smile. “Tell me about him. How did the two of you meet?”

“He was the first one I met in Vesda, and a cranky fellow at that. He thought he was in control of the planet’s machine and didn’t want to leave when explosions were going on around him. I saved him that time. I was curious as to where he was going at nights from my house and while I was at pottery class I saw him walk by the back door. After I found him, I found out that this abandoned building was used as a thieves meeting place. Yes, my friend gave that same look you have, when I told her.”

“So you met him in Vesda? Which means you ended up in Vesda on you own somehow then?”

“Yes, one of the scientists was experimenting and had captured inanimate objects around my home as well as other people’s homes. Then I guess I just disappeared into Vesda.”

“Very interesting.” Kelly nodded when she came to understand better. “What did you first think when you realized you were no longer in your own world?”

“It took some time. I knew I was in what looked like the countryside, but when everyone said to go back and talk to Hobs pointing ahead of my stroll when I just came from behind. It didn’t make sense until one of the characters blurted out where I was. I guess they hadn’t seen a new person in a long time and were having fun with me. I kind of knew about Bailory beforehand after Hobs wanted to know how to destroy a witch. Our conversation was like pulling teeth. he didn’t want to tell me.”

Kelly chuckled and nodded. “I know what that’s like. I’ve endured conversations like that too. If you had the chance though, if Vesda still existed, would you go back to explore it–on your own terms, of course? Rather than abruptly being transported to another world.”

“I really don’t know. I was glad to leave at the time. Maybe there’s another out there somewhere. Uh, no, I don’t think so. Once was enough. Then there’s this new place under Firth…”

Kelly furrowed her brows. “Go on….”

“Well, Bailory is peaceful now. The elves and Nissens are working. The water spirits still try to lure me into their water pond but I know better and maybe I’ll take my other Vesda Friend, Thyla to meet Huldra. They seem alike. I can only think of doing one thing at a time,” Susan replied.

“Sounds like you have much adventure ahead of you if only you choose to take it.” Kelly smiled at Susan. “However though, I have a question that I must ask. I know you only lost your husband six months ago, and you’ve been through much, but…do you ever think you’ll marry again?” She lifted her brows as she observed Susan.

“Not in the near future. How can anyone match up to the man my Henry was? Bosloe is nice but rough and unschool. One of the scientists is a wonderful housekeeper, but he’s dedicated to his friend and their inventions. I was stirred at the Nokken water spirit, but he can’t leave the pond. I thought I had found a kindred spirit in the pottery owner when his wife died but he was definitely not a good catch. So I’ll just relax and see if anything pops up on my cruise. Don’t hold your breath on me.”

“It’s all right to be single. Discover who you are independent of anyone else. You don’t *need* to have someone…especially if you’re not sure you will ever find someone who can stand up to your late husband. So, spend time alone, go out on cruises, have adventures, learn new things, meet new people, and if there is someone else out there, you’ll meet him at the right time. No need to rush or to worry.” She gave Susan a reassuring smile. However, she decided to shift the topic a bit. “Do you have any children, by the way? I think you mentioned Jan…?”

“Oh, Jan is my daughter, the only one we had. She’s in her twenties now and just informed me about her new boyfriend. He looks like a good boy. How it would have been if she had a place like Bailory to visit growing up.”

Kelly smiled at the mention of Jan. “Where is she now? Does she come to visit you at all?”

“She lives in Boise while she’s going to college there and has a part time job. It’s about a two hour boring drive from Firth. When I was in a terrible way after Henry died, she and my sister took turns watching over me with my neighbor doing the same. I love her and she’s just like her dad in the sports she pursues and her curiosity.”

Kelly nodded. “Well, I’m glad she was there for you.” For a moment, she paused, contemplating her next question. She sat back in her chair. “Our time is coming to a close, but we still have time for a few more questions, So tell me, if you could change anything in your life or in your past, what would it be?”

Susan thought for a moment, then remembered her nightmares. “I had one bad dream that I was in the back seat of a car. I thought it was a taxi until the driver turned his head. He was my husband. The man or my husband began to drive across the bridge when I saw a car to my right clip the back fender. I was yelling for Henry to turn with it when I woke up. Yes, if I could turn the clock back I woudn’t let him go to work that day. Unfortunately, the fates to be were already in progress.”

Kelly considered Susan for a moment before nodding. “Without him with you now, you will learn new things about yourself. You will be challenged in ways you never thought possible. And you will always miss him. But there might be another out there for you somewhere.” Kelly glimpsed out the window then back at Susan with a small smile. “I hope you the best with all your endeavors and adventures. Unfortunately though, it is time for me to leave.” Kelly rose to her feet. “Thank you again for meeting with me. This chat was delightful.” She smiled at her.

“Thank you for your time and stop by the pottery shop to see our wares for sale. Bye”

“I’d love that. Have a good day, Susan!” With another smile and a wave, Kelly headed out.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Nancy A. Nation’s novel ‘The Pottery Sale’ is available online. You can find it along with her other books at the following links. Be sure to follow her on social media too!

Similar:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HL2I084     

Deflection:    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PD8LW56

Crossroads:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E9N6FPW                                                     

Found:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015Y0OS1M

Return:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EP2C47U

Desert:     https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LZ43IQU

Where:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B019S493BU   

Pottery (soon):  https://www.amazon.com/Pottery-Sale-What-Beneath-Urban-ebook/dp/B01N49IECN   

Social Media:

FB:  https://www.facebook.com/anationauthor

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorANation   

Blog:  www.bloggingwrites.weebly.com 

Blog: www.anationbooks.wordpress.com     

Website: www.anationauthor.com

Amazon group page:  http://www.amazon.com/A-Nation/e/B00SUHXM6E    

Smashword group page::  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ANation

Author Interview: Nancy A. Nation

I had the pleasure of meeting with sci-fi/urban fantasy author, Nancy A. Nation, to ask her a few questions about her writing and what inspired her series. In this interview, ‘Kelly’ is written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Nancy’ is written by Nancy A. Nation.

newest-book

Pushing open the door to the cafe, Kelly looked around, finding it to be a quaint little place. She smiled as she went up to the counter. “Just hot chocolate with whip cream, please. I’m waiting to meet someone.” After chatting a little with the woman behind the counter and coming to learn a bit more about this place, Kelly finally got her order and went to a table in the corner but near the front window. She sat facing the door, so if her interviewee, Nancy A. Nation, came in, she would see her.

After sipping on her drink then deciding to just wait and let it cool down, Kelly heard the chime of the door opening, and she lifted her gaze to see a woman enter. The woman matched the picture Kelly had seen, so she rose to her feet. “Nancy?” When Nancy looked her way, Kelly greeted her with a smile and reached out her hand to shake. “I’m Kelly. Thank you for meeting with me. How are you doing today?”

“I’m fine, and you?”

Kelly smiled. “I’m quite well. If you’d like to order something, you may, and then you can join me over here, so we can chat.” She motioned to the table she had been sitting at.

Nancy sat down, “Thanks.”

Kelly sat down as well and smiled once more. “So, Nancy, tell me a bit about yourself. Obviously you’re a writer and you’ve published several books, but when did you develop the interest in writing?” She tilted her head to the side as she listened.

Nancy ordered a hot chocolate when the waitress stopped by their table. “I’m a snowbird. When we came to Arizona, I didn’t have a lot to do. I saw a sign in the local library about getting your story published through a writing class. So I said, why not?”

“Well, I’m glad you took that chance. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here, and that would be unfortunately.” Kelly smiled then sipped on her hot chocolate. Putting down her mug, she asked, “So what kind of stories do you write?”

“I chose science fiction just because I feel it gives me more freedom to move the characters. But also I didn’t want to write non-fiction and have someone come after me. When I began writing in nano two years ago, I came into urban fantasy.  It’s a way to mimic today’s issues.”

Kelly had to smile. “I totally understand that–about not wanting to write non-fiction and have someone come after you. There’s much more freedom, in a way, with sci-fi and even fantasy. You can address today’s issues, but in a more…roundabout way without fear of being attacked by people.” She nodded, understanding this greatly. “So, you said you wrote sci-fi, but now you’re writing urban fantasy…do I understand that correctly?” She furrowed her brows. “Or you still writing both genres?”

Nancy’s hot chocolate came, and she stirred it some with a  spoon.  “I have written both. I have six in a series that is sci-fi and during NaNoWriMo month, I have been writing the urban fantasy. The series in in third person, and the urban is in first person. Just a way to be flexible. Since I still feel new to the writing game, I try different methods.”

“I really like that. Staying flexible works quite well and is really good for strengthening all kinds of skills in the craft of writing.” Kelly nodded. “So, how long have you been writing? You’ve written quite a few books already, yet you said you feel new to the writing game.”

Nancy took a sip of the delicious hot chocolate and looked over at Kelly. “I started the writing class in 2011, published the first book in 2013. By then I knew how to self-publish. I have been writing three books a year because my readers want to know what the next story is going to be. I feel new because I’m always learning something new in the craft. My mother said you will learn something new every day, and she was right.”

“No matter how far advance as a writer, you will always learn something new…actually, this applies to life in general to.” Kelly smiled then took another sip of her drink. Setting it down, she focused on Nancy. “Okay, so which book of yours would you like to focus on? I’m afraid we only have time for one although I’d personally love to hear about everything!” She grinned at her.

Nancy smiled and began, “Might as well as talk about my latest, ‘The Pottery Sale’. This urban fantasy takes place in a real town in Idaho. This is a sequel to the first urban book I wrote in 2015, Where did they go?  I had to make sure in The Pottery Sale that the reader was informed as to what happened in the previous book. The Pottery Sale is about an ordinary housewife/widow that is bored with her normal routines until her gnome friend takes her into another world.”

Kelly raised her brows, but then she smiled widely and set her elbow on the table and her chin in the palm of her hand as she listened. “Oh, this sounds like a grand adventure! Can you tell me more of who and what they encounter? Without spoiling it, of course.”

“Well, I show two worlds. My heroine takes up pottery that somehow becomes associated with the drug world. Hobs, her friend, finds a fantasy land in the same building the bad guys are using. When a few people die at the Pottery shop, Susan runs for her life and Hobs saves her. The land of Bailory is your typical fairyland that has a wicked witch. This land is a combination of Norse spirits and local Indian ones The two worlds come together when Susan and Hobs saves the day.”

“That sounds fascinating!” Kelly smiled widely as she sat back in her chair. “A bit complex too, and that’s great! So, where did you get the idea for this story? You mentioned you did it for NaNo, but what inspired you to shift from sci-fi to urban fantasy?”

Nancy took another sip of her hot chocolate, “I don’t really know, it just came to me unlike my other tales that have some basis in real news stories. I was writing’ Where Did They Go?’ for NaNo, and it just seemed boring for me. As soon as I had my character walk into another world, I finished it in 11 days. I finished ‘The Pottery Sale’ in 16 days. It’s like I’m watching a movie with specific characters in a certain location. The characters take off and do their thing. I just relay their story.”

“You finished it in 16 days??” Kelly raised her brows. “That’s fantastic! So will there be more to the series?”

“I hope so, but now I have been thinking of what to do for my next sci-fi adventure. I’m still waiting on my readers to proof ‘The Pottery Sale’.”

“Well, I hope it goes well for you. Now though, we actually have little time, so why don’t you tell me about your sci-fi series? What is it about?”

Nancy finish her drink and set the cup on the table. “My sci-fi series has many arcs. Basically how we may live in the future 300 years from now. The first book, Similar but not the same, is about first contact with a species of people that want to be our friends. From there, humans travel with them to another planet and back again. A take off in the same time with the same characters is a detective story and the murders he solves traveling to Mars and the Moon.” She took a deep breath. “I always put a moral tone into my books that expresses how greed can destroy. You see examples every day in the newspaper.”

“So like a homicide detective but in space?” Kelly smiled, her eyes brightening as she thought on this. “I’ve got to say, that is quite unique. I like it a lot! Of course you said there are other arcs to it as well, so it must be very complex, but that detective story…gotta be interesting.”

For a moment, she checked the time on her phone and frowned. “Our time is almost up, but tell me, what is your favorite thing about writing? What makes you keep coming back for more?”

“Writing is relaxing for me and helps get those pesky irritations off my chest. I want to thank you for doing this interview with me. As soon as you post it I will post on my blog. I want to add at my age, I have to write as much as I can.”

“You are doing quite well. Keep up the good work. It’s certainly been a pleasure to meet you and to hear your story. I can’t wait to see which character you will have me interview.” Kelly smiled then rose to her feet. She reached out her hand to Nancy. “Thank so much for meeting with me. I hoe you the best with all your writing endeavors! Keep writing, and keep publishing!”

“Thank you, have a good day.”

<~>~<~>~<~>

Nancy A. Nation’s novel ‘The Pottery Sale’ is available online. You can find it along with her other books at the following links. Be sure to follow her on social media too!

Similar:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HL2I084     

Deflection:    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PD8LW56

Crossroads:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E9N6FPW                                                     

Found:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015Y0OS1M

Return:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EP2C47U

Desert:     https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LZ43IQU

Where:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B019S493BU   

Pottery (soon):  https://www.amazon.com/Pottery-Sale-What-Beneath-Urban-ebook/dp/B01N49IECN   

Social Media:

FB:  https://www.facebook.com/anationauthor

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorANation   

Blog:  www.bloggingwrites.weebly.com 

Blog: www.anationbooks.wordpress.com     

Website: www.anationauthor.com

Amazon group page:  http://www.amazon.com/A-Nation/e/B00SUHXM6E    

Smashword group page::  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ANation

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.

Character Interview: N. R. Tupper’s Kai

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Kai was written by N. R. Tupper.)

The overhead lights flickered before finally giving way to the bright light shining through the open shutters. Kai Brecken shivered as she paced the length of the HOPEBRINGER’s bridge. Why had she agreed to this? Battus, she hated this place. Everything about it brought back memories she’d rather not dwell on.

As soon as she entered this ship of demons, she lifted the shutters, opening the windows so sunlight could flood the space. This light was the only comfort this room could provide and Kai didn’t intend to deny herself that.

Outside the windows the blue and green beauty of Egeria still took her breath away, but she knew what waited outside. She knew the danger this beautiful little planet harbored.

As ideas went, this wasn’t one of her favorites.

She continued to pace as she waited for the interviewer to arrive.

Since this wasn’t her first time visiting the HOPEBRINGER, Kelly knew what to expect and dressed in a casual manner. She was much more was a bit more at ease. She knew there was something in the ship, but she didn’t know what exactly, but she made her way to the bridge and cleared her throat to get Kai’s attention. When the woman spun around to look at her, Kelly offered her a smile as she approached her. “Hello, Kai. I’m Kelly. Thank you for meeting with me.” She glimpsed around their settings. “So what history do you have with this ship?” She looked back at Kai for an answer.

Right to the questions. Typical of an interviewer, Kai supposed. She studied the thin wisp of a woman before her and shoved her hands into her pockets. Not that she didn’t want to shake the woman’s hand but it hadn’t been offered and Kai had no idea what traditions this particular woman came from. Some people shook hands, some didn’t. One thing Kai was good at was adapting to whatever culture she was facing.

The question made Kai look around. The history she had in this place wasn’t exactly a history she cared to explore. “My crew and I spent a brief time in this ship. Used it to escape an unpleasant situation. It’s not… my favorite place.” She didn’t return Kelly’s smile. Not that she wanted to be rude, but she didn’t particularly feel like smiling and she’d given up on trying to fake it when she didn’t feel it.

Sensing how her warmth wasn’t really accepted, Kelly nodded and tucked her hands behind her back as she meandered around the bridge. “I understand you rescued each crew member, and that’s how you got your crew. How did you start that endeavor of rescuing such people?”

Kai watched Kelly, blue eyes following the woman closely.

The thing was, this woman didn’t seem a threat so Kai wanted to trust her, but it wasn’t easy to trust. Not even when her instincts told her to. “I didn’t rescue them. They’ll tell you I did, but I didn’t. I merely helped them rescue themselves. Tucker hadn’t needed rescuing, just guiding. Mallik definitely wasn’t the sort to need a hero. Haydn too. If anyone could claim they were ‘rescued’, it was Uri but she didn’t think asking to be given a slave and then freeing that slave was necessarily a ‘rescue’. You spoke to them then? My crew?”

Kelly smiled and shook her head. “Not exactly. I’ve merely heard this. But helping or rescuing…what were you doing when you first encountered the first individual you helped?” She raised her brows as she continued to roam the bridge, her skimming over the desks.

“Surviving,” Kai murmured. When she met Tucker she’d been with the pirates. She’d just been inducted into the Masked Princes, but of course nobody knew. It was bizarre walking amongst those people and them not knowing who she ‘was’. They still didn’t know, not even Tucker. “Tucker was working for the pirates. A good kid, too honest for his own good. He made a mistake, I intervened. He says I saved his life but I didn’t… I really didn’t. After that he started following me around and next thing I knew he was my right hand man.” Kid. Right hand kid. He wasn’t a man. Not even now.

Kelly nodded when she heard this. She took a seat and swirled it around to face Kai. “And who was after that?”

“Mallik. Then Bristol and with Bristol came Haydn and then Uri. That’s the order.” The questions irritated her, though she wasn’t sure why. Well, she did. She didn’t like talking about how they met. She didn’t like being painted like a hero because she just wasn’t. She crossed her arms over her chest, “My crew are a team. We’re a unit. We’re… a family. How we started doesn’t matter. What matters is, we’re together and we’ll always be together. They’d die for me, I’d die for them.” She immediately regretted her tone. “Sorry I just… I don’t like being here…”

“Well, is there someplace else you’d like to go? It’s not like I chose this as our meeting place. I just came here because I was told you would be.” Then that made Kelly think. “Did you choose to meet here?”

“No,” Kai said quickly, “no, no. No. Who would want to be here?” She waved her hand towards the windows, “You know what’s out there! Or… they didn’t tell you?” She shook her head, “It doesn’t matter. Let’s just get this over with. They said if I answered your questions, you’d help me find my sister.”

Kelly opened her mouth to correct her but then decided otherwise. Kai wasn’t trusting her yet, and if Kelly revealed she didn’t know anything about her sister, Kai might get up and leave immediately. That wouldn’t do.

So, she decided to shift topics. “I understand you don’t trust me, and you may not like talking about yourself, but I’d like you to consider this as your one and likely only opportunity to be true to yourself. You can talk honestly with me. I have no one to tell. After today, you won’t see or hear from me again, so you can trust me. Can you do that?” She raised her brows.

Kai closed her eyes with a sigh. Then she nodded, “Yeah. I can do that.” What did it matter if she was honest? It was true, she’d never see this woman again. And it wasn’t like her crew would read the interview when it came out… well, she didn’t think they would. “Sorry.” She ran her hand over her hair and shook out her shoulders to try and relax.”Right. So. Okay. Mallik, she definitely wasn’t rescued. She was with the pirates, like we all were. Thing is, she liked getting into fights. I just happened to be there, I helped, and uh… now she says I saved her life. I didn’t. It was just a simple bar fight. Bristol, she was different. She, uh, she got herself in a real bad situation. The thing is, she’s way too gentle. Way too… pretty. A pirate named Garis had taken her as a…companion. She wasn’t too happy about it but didn’t know how to get away. I talked to Garis, convinced him it was in his best interest to leave her be. It was safer after that for her to stick with me, so she did. Haydn had just escaped from the Alliance when I met him. He was still pretty sick, actually. The pirates would have ate him alive, but Bristol, she found him and she begged me to help. So we took him in and he just became one of us. He’s a badass though, not weak. Not even a little. And Uri was a slave. When I left the… pirates,” she wasn’t willing to say she’d been a Masked Prince, that was too much, “I asked for a gift. They said I could have anything, so I asked for Uri. And that’s how I got my crew.”

“Nice, so what do you all do? I’m assuming it has nothing to do with the pirates, but you’re a crew, so you have to do something.” Kelly sat back in her chair to listen.

“Transports,” Kai answered, “it’s… you know, a living. And when you’ve got a record like we do it’s hard to get other work. Right now we’re trying to earn a ticket, so we can get the bigger jobs. The dream is to be fully independent, no more pirates, no more jail time.” Kai had ceased her pacing. She stood near one of the consoles and finally leaned back to sit on it.

“At least you have something, and you have people you can trust.” The next question Kelly wanted to ask might get Kai to shut down again, but she had to breach it. “What happened between you and your family? And I’m not talking about your crew. Why are you so distant from them?”

Kai visibly stiffened at the question.  She didn’t like talking about it. She licked at her lips and shook her head, “I left them,” she said quietly, “I left them and… you know, they won’t talk to me.”

“Family doesn’t just not talk to one of their own. Trust me, I know. I’ve got a large family and totally understand all the complicated dynamics of a family.” Kelly was thinking of her five sisters and four brothers. “Why did you leave them?”

Kai shook her head, “I was 13. I was a kid. I wanted… things they didn’t want to give me. So I ran away. And, I’ve tried to contact them but they won’t listen. Family shouldn’t just not talk … but they have cut me out so completely… I don’t even know if they’re alive anymore.” Which is why she’d agreed to this interview. She needed to know if her sister was alive… if she was okay.

“It hurts when they cut you off like that, and I completely agree with you that they shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry they did.” However, Kelly wasn’t about to let it go. “Tell me about your parents. Before you left, what were they like?”

“My mother is… was… a gentle woman. She had a rebellious streak but she didn’t show it much. My father was a dick. He didn’t think much of women, really didn’t think much of pirates, he would absolutely hate me now.”

“And siblings?” Kelly raised her brows, leaning forward, resting her forearms on her knees and clasping her hands together.

“Lily is the older of my sisters,” Kai smiled as she spoke, “She’s a real dreamer. She always had her nose in books. She’s the one I thought for sure would find me.” Her smile faded. After a moment she continued, “Dayli was just a baby when I left. But she was a funny kid, always laughing and doing that funny dance toddlers do. You know what I mean? Like, she could feel music in a way we can’t and she’d just jiggle her little body however she could. It was cute… funny. I miss that.”

Kelly chuckled when she heard these fond memories, and she nodded. “Did either of your sisters ever teach you anything–something you may not have realized but have carried with you all this time?”

“To dream,” Kai said quietly, “to always dream. To chase your dreams. To not be afraid…”

“And were you afraid of something at home?” Kelly asked quietly.

“Yeah,” Kai nodded. She sighed and pushed away from the console. This was odd, talking so openly, sharing her true feelings. It wasn’t anything she would normally do. Not even with her crew. “Can we change the subject?”

“Sure, we can change the subject, but that doesn’t mean I won’t go back to that topic,” Kelly forewarned her as she eased back in her chair. “So what happened after you left your family? Where did you end up?”

“I hitched a ride on a transporter and they sold me to the pirates. I spent the next twelve years with the pirates, right up until I gathered my crew and we decided to go our own way.” Kai rubbed at her arms,  “You know, people say the pirates are bad. I grew up being told how evil they are but they aren’t. They took care me, a scared lost kid and sure they were rough and at times scary but they gave me the chance nobody else would.”

“Were you with a specific pirate crew? Or did you float around several crews?” Kelly tilted her head as she observed Kai.

“I moved from ship to ship. Just whoever needed, whenever they needed me. I was a bit of a specialist. I had specific… skills. So if a crew needed those skills, they sent me that way.” That was how she earned the interest of the Masked Princes. “You understand, I can’t talk too much about that. I wasn’t exactly involved in the most… legal activity.”

“Kai, do you have any idea the kind of people I talk to? Several of them were/are serial killers, others are plotting to take over the world, and then there are thieves, and don’t forget the demons, and so on and so forth.” Kelly looked at Kai and shrugged. “You doing illegal work doesn’t really bother me. I’m not here to judge you. Just want to get to know you, and no, I’m not going to let you skim topics.” With that, she crossed her arms because she could be stubborn too. “What specific skills did/do you have?”

Demons? Was this woman nutty? It wouldn’t surprise Kai if she was, although demons might just be some kind of euphemism or title. Her ‘skills’ were not exactly something she was proud of. “In the course of my… training, the pirate who took me on discovered I had a particularly good eye. He trained me to shoot. Special weapons, special circumstances…”  That was a part of her life she really didn’t like discussing. It’s not as if she was proud of how she’d climbed the ranks, or how she’d made a name for herself. Ruthless killer was not the title she wanted to embrace.

“And they made you kill.” Kelly nodded as she came to understand this. She softened her voice. “Do you recall the first kill you had to make?”

“They were not good people,” Kai said firmly, “every one. I made sure of it.” It was how she made it okay, in her head. She wasn’t killing the innocent, or the good. She only killed people who didn’t deserve to live. She was hating this. Every moment of it… but at the same time it was almost a relief to speak it all out loud. She hadn’t told anyone any of this before.

“Still you took people’s lives.” Then Kelly paused as if she realized. “Is that why you don’t feel like you should ever be called a ‘hero’? Because you killed people?”

“I’m not a hero,” Kai repeated firmly, “I won’t ever be a hero.” She paced the length of the bridge, pausing near the windows to look out at the stunning view. She whirled, pinning her gaze on Kelly, “Do you know where she is? My sister? Lily?”

“I understand you don’t like the weight of the title of ‘hero’, but you seem firmly against it—moreso than most people. Why is that?” Kelly asked, knowing she was completely ignoring the question Kai asked.

“Do you consider yourself a hero?” Kai asked. “I’m just a normal person. I’m just some chick who’s out there doing what I can to survive. There’s nothing hero about that. But people keep trying to put that title on me and it’s stupid. I’m just Kai. I’m just me. Everytime I do something good they say: Oh, you’re a hero. No. I”m a human being. I did the human thing, the right thing. I do wrong things too. I’m not some idol. I’m not some statue. I’m just me.”

“And are you happy with who you are?”

Kai paused at that. She hadn’t been asked that question before. She wasn’t sure how to respond. She didn’t answer quickly. She chewed over the question a long while before finally shaking her head.

“Why don’t you like who you are?” Kelly asked softly as she leaned forward, her eyes locked on Kai to catch any and everything she might not actually say.

“I left them behind,” Kai said softly, “I left them behind… I didn’t care what it would do to them, I didn’t care how it would hurt them… I only thought about me and I left them behind.” And now she couldn’t reach them, she couldn’t contact them and she was so scared they weren’t okay.

“If you could go back in time and change it all, would you?” Kelly watched Kai then pressed. “Would you *really* change anything?”

That was the hard part. Because as much as she protested, she knew her presence had changed five very important lives. If she hadn’t left her family, she wouldn’t have met them. “You can’t go back, Kelly the interviewer. You can only go forward.”

Kelly tilted her head to a side, observing the dodge of the question. This time she would let it slid. “So, tell me, who’s Hawthorne?”

Kai’s cheeks turned ever so slightly pink. She coughed, “What? Where did you hear that name? Why are you asking?”

Kelly chuckled when she watched her reaction. “Because I know things. Otherwise I wouldn’t be good at my job. You didn’t mention him as part of your crew, so who is he?”

Freaking Hawthorne. He just had to show up everywhere, didn’t he? She sighed, eyes rolling to the ceiling for a moment, “We met him here. He’s a sneaky Rebel spy. About as trustworthy as a clown. If he’s talking, he’s lying. Far as I can tell.”

“Really? Because I know you don’t think that. You blushed and you smiled when I mentioned his name, so what’s up with that…or would you like me to draw my own conclusions?” Kelly had to smile.

“He’s an idiot!” Kai said quickly, “but he’s useful and…” she paused, coughing softly, “Look. I’m not dead. He’s got good abs… that’s all. That’s it.” She couldn’t even admit to herself that she might like him. He was useful and he worked with them. That’s all.

“Uhhum.” Kelly didn’t sound convinced, but she decided to shift the topic as she sat back in her chair. “You said you met him here?” She looked around at their surroundings. “Describe that meeting to me.”

“We were stranded here together. He was injured, seemed harmless, so we helped him and he helped.” Sort of. In the end he hadn’t been that useful but Kai was a sucker for helping people who needed help.

“Why do you always help people? I mean, that’s great and all, but…can’t it be exhausting?” Kelly raised her brows as she folded her arms. “Why are you so driven to help others?”

“Aren’t you?” Kai snapped, “Don’t you help people when they need it?”

“Sure, but I know why I do it. I’m asking you why you do it. Do you even know why?” Kelly raised her brows.

Kai frowned. It was on the tip of her tongue to say it was the ‘right thing to do’ but that wasn’t it. She did lots of things that weren’t the ‘right thing’. “When I needed it, there were people who helped me. I’m just returning the favor.”

“Do you feel that it balances out the wrong you’ve done in life…with all the different lives you’ve taken. Does it somehow clear your ledger of the blood?”

This woman…Kai’s eyes narrowed. She sniffed, arms crossing yet again. She was just about at her limit. She’d had enough with this truth business. “There is no ledger,” she murmured. But maybe it was true. She hadn’t thought about it before, she just did it… she just helped those who deserved to be helped. She hadn’t considered why she felt compelled to do that. She knew she wasn’t a good person. She knew what she was capable of. But she also knew she didn’t want to be ‘that’ person. Not anymore.

Kelly could tell Kai was beginning to clam up on her again, but they still have some more time left. Kelly intended on using every moment. She leaned forward to lock eyes with Kai. “What are you most afraid of?”

“Spiders,” Kai said with a shrug. And then, and she wasn’t sure why, she answered truthfully, “Hurting people I love.”

“Can you ever forgive yourself for hurting your family?”

Kai’s brow furrowed, her eyes closing for a brief moment. “Could you?”

“It’s not about me, Kai. This is about you.” Kelly shook her head. “You made your choices. Bridges have been burned, but forgiveness is always possible. It might not be easy, but it’s possible. And if I may say so, I don’t think you’ve forgiven yourself for your past actions. Instead, you’ve run from them. Sure, you tried once to reach out to them, but that burned you…and, in a way, justified your excuse never to go home. Yes, they should forgive you as well, but I’m talking to you–not them. If you ignore and suppress it, it will eventually rear its ugly head, and it will be for too strong for you to handle, and it will utterly break you.”

Was this a counseling session? Kai turned away, breathing in deep and letting it out slow as she forced herself to refocus. /Focus, Kai./ “I’m going to find them,” she turned back, “and you’re going to help me.”

Kelly shook her head. “Yeah, I hate to tell you this, but whoever told you that I knew anything about your family–specifically your sister–lied to you. I know you don’t like the Alliance and you despise ‘Comrades’. I knew about Hawthorne, and that your crew thinks of you as a hero. But that’s about all the info I was given prior to this conversation. I’m sorry to disappoint you.” And Kelly braced herself although she wasn’t afraid of Kai.

Anger burned hot in her veins. Kai clenched her hands into tight fists and shook her head, “Oh man…”  Somebody was going to pay for this one. But instead of being angry she found herself letting out a soft laugh, “Well, I should have known. Can’t trust anyone to tell the truth. I should have known better.”

“I’m really sorry about that. I wish I had some info because I would love to help, but…I don’t know anything.” Kelly sighed as she rose to her feet. She knew their time was almost up, but she still had time for a few more questions. “You fight so hard to find her. Are you hoping to restore what you’ve lost with your family?”

“No, I don’t have any interest in what I had with them before. I want to keep her safe. That’s all. If I find her, and Dayli and they’re okay, that’s enough. I just need to know they’re okay. And if they can’t forgive me, maybe they’ll at least let me know they’re safe.” Because if they weren’t safe…well, she would make sure they would be.

Kelly considered her for a moment–so many questions still in her mind, but time was short. She tried to think of what to say. “You may be trying to save them, but when you find them–and I’m confident that you will–don’t push them away, don’t shun them because you don’t like yourself. They are your flesh and blood, and sisters have a very unique bond. I pray you find forgiveness and that you learn to forgive them as well.” With that she straightened and cast Kai a smile. “Well, my time is about up. I will leave you, so you don’t have to put up with my pestering questions, but thank you for answering them.”

Kai nodded, “You’re all right, Kelly interviewer but no offense… hope we don’t meet again.”

She headed for the exit, “Want me to walk you out?”

“I think I can find my own way. Thanks. You take care!” With one final smile, Kelly headed out.

<~>~<~>~<~>

N. R. Tupper’s novel, TYR, is now available. Be sure to follow her on social media as well for more updates!

Book: getbook.at/TYR

Twitter: www.twitter.com/nrtupper

Website: www.nrtupper.wix.com/nrtupper

Author Interview: N. R. Tupper

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Nert was written by N. R. Tupper.)

One thing Kelly had to say about her interviews, sometimes they took her to the strangest of places, she mused as she wandered through the broken down hunk of metal spaceship that still floated through space. She had come in prepared with a spacesuit, but the readings indicated sufficient oxygen to breath, so she removed her suit helmet. Apparently whatever the reason was for this place to be abandoned, it wasn’t the oxygen. Still, a chill ran down her spine.

She walked passed the walls, which leaked with a damp but sticky liquid, but no, she wasn’t about to touch that. And overhead the lights flickered.

Then she heard footsteps behind her and spun around, setting her flashlight on the individual. And she tensed. “Nert Tupper? N. R. Tupper?” When Nert nodded, Kelly sighed in relief and drew near to her. “I’ve got to say, you’ve picked an…interesting place to meet.”

Dressed in jeans, a Doctor Who t-shirt and a thick brown sweater Nert didn’t fit in at all. She looked more suited to a farm than a spaceship. Kelly approached and Nert’s chubby features changed to a bright smile. The smile was like a switch that changed her face from neutral and almost sad to bright and welcoming. “Yup! It’s one of my favorite places, just be careful, okay? There are… things in the vent. They aren’t exactly friendly. We’ll be safer up at the bridge. It’s this way.” With a wave, Nert headed back down the hall to a set of doors not too far away. The doors opened with a ping as Nert approached, revealing a large elevator car.

Kelly followed after Nert. What had she gotten into? But she had to say, this was better than visiting Hell for an interview which she’d done. Still, it had creepy vibes to it. However, to keep her mind off that, Kelly proceeded with questions, “So, Nert…why this place of all places? I mean, why is it your favorite place? The quiet?”

“Oh no! Not at all!” Nert laughed as the elevator closed behind them. They must have been moving but it was impossible to tell as the numbers on the elevator panel changed, leading them up to the 47th level. “This is the HOPEBRINGER. She’s the center of pretty much everything that happens in my series. The main trilogy, and the prequels. Initially she was humanity’s hope but in a way she becomes humanity’s doom.”

Ping! The doors opened, revealing a large, open, almost sparse room that, judging by the Captain’s chair and huge viewscreen dominating the far wall, must have been the bridge.

“We’ll be safe here. Generally they don’t come up here.”

“That is so very comforting…” Kelly wasn’t convinced, but she trusted Nert, so she smiled and took a look around the bridge. She had to admit, it was amazing up here. Such sights never ceased to amaze her. She turned back to Nert. “Okay, so tell me a bit about yourself. Are you a full-time writer, or do you have a day-job?”

“I have a day-job, a night-job and I write full time in that I’m always thinking about it. It’s hard to turn that part off. Any quiet moments, when I’m scanning grocery items, or scanning documents, I’m plotting and imagining. It’s a real problem.” Nert moved to the Captain’s chair and plopped down with a happy sigh. She ran her hands lovingly over the arms of the chair. “I’ve always wanted to sit here. Please! Have a seat at one of the consoles, unless you want to explore?” There were six consoles, three on each side of the Captain’s Chair. “But, yeah, writing has always been my passion but I always lacked the courage to share my work. This will be the first time I’m offering my full manuscript to anyone but my closest, most dearest friends.”

Kelly gifted her with a warm smile as she meandered around the bridge. “Well, I’m quite honored you’d share anything with me. Thank you.” She bowed her head but then lifted it again to smile at Nert. “So, you’ve always been writing, but was there ever a moment that really urged you on to take writing seriously? Or did you always take it seriously?” She raised her brows as she traced her fingers along a console.

“Honestly? Probably an early mid-life crisis. The thing that always held me back was feeling like writing was a childish passion, a foolish dream… and then one day I woke up and I just thought: Nert, you’re turning 30 next year. It’s time you start living the life you WANT, as opposed to the life you got handed to you. And so I started writing this story and it has consumed my life ever since.”

Kelly had to grin. “Well, I’m glad you’ve had that realization and are writing seriously now.” Finally she turned to face Nert fully and leaned back against a console. “So, tell me about one of your stories. What’s it about?”

“One of them? Haha. Oh gawd. Well, the one that’s coming out in May follows Kai Brecken. Honeslty, Kai was an accident. I never planned her. I had the story and I had the back story and I had no idea who would tell the story because I knew the real main character couldn’t. Then when I sat down to right Kai just popped onto the page and there she was…Ultimately her story is one of forgiveness, family, love. But it’s surrounded by all this action and space dragons. I think people will appreciate that at it’s core this little action story is really a story about the love of family, both blood and chosen.”

“Is it a science fiction story or what genre?” Kelly asked as she gestured to their surroundings, which she assumed belonged to one of Nert’s stories.

“I honestly call it science fiction but I’ve been told by betas that it’s more space fantasy. I’ve spent my whole life reading science fiction but I’ve never been one of those people who worries about labels and specifics. I just like what I like. So, anyway, space fantasy. Let’s say, space fantasy.”

Kelly shrugged. “I’d call it science fiction too, for what it’s worth, but okay, space fantasy works too.” She smiled as she pushed away from the console to pace some more. It helped her think. “So, you said it’s a story about forgiveness, family, and love, but…but that’s all pretty general—though important.” Kelly looked back at Nert. “What’s the plot? The characters? Their conflicts? What is forgiveness necessary for the story?”

Nert pushed her toe into the floor to make the chair spin.  “I mean, that’s so hard to answer. It’s a trilogy you know! I don’t want to give too much away!” She called as she spun faster and faster. Finally she forced the chair to a stop and with a laugh sunk low in her seat, “Dizzy. Um… I guess… so, Kai is the character telling the story and she’s a badass, but she did something that separated her from her family and ultimately hurt her family and she’s doing her best to reconnect with them. She initially worked with pirates but wants to do her own thing so she’s gathered this crew and they take a job transporting goods to Egeria — a newly terraformed Alliance owned planet. When they arrive at Egeria they find an Alliance secret that could change the course of humanity’s relationship with the Sarlek. At this point Kai has to choose between saving her crew, and saving humanity. Anyway. The real key character of the story is someone she meets along the way. I don’t want to name names, but this other character is a mother who, a long time ago, was separated from her children. The family part comes in that these two women are both desperately trying to find their family. All while not realizing they’re surrounded by a new family. I’m probably explaining this bad! I have no idea how to talk about it without spoiling things.”

Kelly had to laugh. “Totally understand the spoiler idea. Don’t want the readers to be spoiled too much, and explaining a trilogy is never easy. You’ve done well.” She reassured her with a smile as she lowered into a chair and leaned forward. “So tell me about Kai. What’s she like?”

“She’s… amazing,” Nert smiles as she speaks, her expression softening, “I wanted her to be a hero people could appreciate, but I also wanted her to be human. I find, too often, female heroes these days tend to be either too weak, or too over powered. Kai isn’t either of those. She’s human. She doubts herself, she second-guesses herself, she worries a LOT, she obsesses about the past and her mistakes but ultimately she’s strong because when she has to make a decision, she does it. She’s impulsive, but she’s not afraid. She’s intelligent, but her own self-doubts stop her from being cocky. She’s loyal, to a fault. She’s cranky, snarky, hilarious without knowing it. She’s just… human. And like humans, she’s a study in contradictions. I know some people don’t like her, because she is constantly second guessing but I think there are very few people in this world who don’t second guess themselves and ultimately I wanted a human character, not an unrealistic heroine.”

Kelly paused for a second, tilting her head as if listening and focusing on something else before looking back at Nert and shaking her head. “Sorry. Tornado warning at my place in real life. I know time moves differently here than in real life, but I just tried to get my cats. Anyway, thankfully the storm has passed, so…what were you saying? Oh yes, your character being human and realistic. So in that case, what has been your greatest struggle to make her realistic?”

“Making her realistic was easy. It was balancing her insecurities and her abilities that was hard. At one point I had her doubting herself WAY too much and it didn’t make sense that she had done the things she did and could do the things she can do. Figuring out the balance between insecurity and strength was hard. I think we all have hidden strength, sometimes without knowing it, and I wanted to pay homage to that with this character. I think we are, all of us, a little bit like Kai.” Nert tilts her head, “Tornado, eh? We don’t get those here. Sounds scary.”

Kelly shrugged. “Tornados are the norm for Texas at times, but it’s okay.” She smiled at Nert. “So, you kinda mentioned what inspired this idea, but what exactly triggered it?”

“It started with a little dragon boy named Kip. He started popping into my head ages ago but I kind of dismissed him because I wasn’t into fantasy. As the years went by he kept popping into my head and… in searching for his story, I found the story of his parents and the story of his parents led me to this. As to what triggered him? A little game called Breath of Fire. I was completely enamored with the shape shifting dragon concept and it just got this little human-dragon Kip in my head. He’s adorable, by the way. Real quiet, real gentle… and ironically, I still haven’t figured out what /his/ story is but he’s spawned all these other stories.”

Kelly furrowed her brows as she heard this, and she leaned forward, clasping her hands together. “But how did you get from there with a dragon to here with space fantasy?”

“It all comes back to here, the HOPEBRINGER.” Nert answered with a laugh, “Because I don’t write fantasy, I tried to think of ways to make a fantasy that wasn’t a fantasy and I thought what if I have science fiction characters meet a fantasy world? Then I can have my cake and eat it too. And so the HOPEBRINGER was born and she brought my science fiction characters to a fantasy world but that wasn’t the end of it, because I still wasn’t telling the right story. And eventually the HOPEBRINGER led me to Kai and her crew and the story she wanted to tell. I don’t know, it’s so hard to pinpoint any exact moment when anything came together because it was such a long, gradual process. It was my first time trying to write a full length novel and my first time trying to write fantasy so it was a very long learning process.”

“Well, it is possible to write a fantasy/science fiction story. That’s what I do with my novel.” Kelly offered Nert some hope then glimpsed around at the ship again. “What’s the backstory of the HOPEBRINGER?”

Nert grins at that question, her eyes twinkled with amusement. Overhead something banged loudly in the vent. Nert’s eyes raised upwards. She shrugged and focused her gaze back on Kelly. “It’s the Titanic of space. A giant terraforming beast that humanity sent to strange new worlds. It ends up on an alien planet far from human reach. Nobody knows how, it’s this huge mystery. But, some of its crew survived and forged a new life on the alien planet. Hundreds of years later Kai and her crew find the ship, only it’s no longer occupied by humans. Instead, it has some nasty new inhabitants that aren’t too interested in sharing.”

“Ah nice…” Kelly tried not to shiver at the thought, but she could only imagine what Nert created to occupy this ship. “I have so many questions I’d like to ask about the story and the backstory, but, I know, spoilers.” She sighed and sat back in her chair, frowning as she tried to think of another question. When she thought of it, her eyes lit, and she smiled as she looked back at Nert. “Okay, so what’s your favorite thing to write about the story?”

“Oh the characters! I love them! Maybe that’s a bit narcissistic but I love doubting Kai and sneaky Hawthorne and silly Tucker and badass Mallik. I just love them all so much. And it’s hard, because I have so much more I want to share about them and their lives but this first novel is a fast-paced action and it’s hard to slip in all the stuff I wish I could slip in! I can’t tell you how many scenes I deleted because they slowed the story down. It’s painful, really. And still I have people telling me I should take MORE out because backstory isn’t important but man! I love the backstory! I love these kids so much! And yes, they are my kids.”

“Hey, do what you feel is right. You know the story better than anyone else.” Kelly made sure she had Nert’s attention when she said this, but then she went on, “And what’s the most difficult thing you’ve found to write with this story?”

“It’s not in the first novel, but in the third novel there’s this thing that… it was really hard to write, really hard to do even. I tried to think of other ways to end the story but it had to end this way and… well, I’m jumping way ahead because that’s the third book. In the first novel, I think the hardest thing was finding the perfect balance of world building and pacing. I wanted this to be fast-paced and sometimes world building can slow things down. So I had to learn how to show just wanted needed to be shown just when it needed to be shown. Just enough so the reader wasn’t lost but not so much that the reader was bogged down.”

“That’s quite a delicate balance indeed.” Kelly nodded but then offered Nert a smile. “But I’m sure you’ve mastered it well.” Then she sighed because she knew what time it was. “Our time is almost up, so I’m going to have to be going soon, but before I leave, what’s something you would like your readers to walk away with after they read your story? Something they’ll remember?”

“Dragons in space are amazing?” Nert laughed, “No, I’m kidding. I think the thing I want them to walk away with is; love the people you love with all your heart and take care of them. Ultimately, that’s the only thing in life that matters. The people you make family are so, so important and the time you have with them is short, so make every second count… but also, dragons in space are amazing.” Nert stood from the chair and held out her hand, “Thanks for meeting with me. I really appreciate it.”

Kelly grinned, shaking Nert’s hand as she stood too. “Dragons in space are pretty awesome indeed. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. This was fun. I’m looking forward to whichever character you’ll have me meet!”

“Oh, me too!” Nert laughed, “and, uh, don’t take anything personally, okay? My characters can be a bit… distrusting of strangers.”

Kelly smirked at this. “That’s totally fine! I’m used to that. It will be fun! However though, I’ve got to go. You take care, okay?”

“Have a great day! And, just… uh… be careful on your way out. See you!” Nert waved with a grin

Kelly smiled, taking note of the warning, but then headed out

<~>~<~>~<~>

N. R. Tupper’s novel, TYR, is now available. Be sure to follow her on social media as well for more updates!

Book: getbook.at/TYR

Twitter: www.twitter.com/nrtupper

Website: www.nrtupper.wix.com/nrtupper

Character Interview: Patricia Loofbourrow’s Jacqui

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Jacqui was written by Patricia Loofbourrow.)

The day was overcast and cool but not windy. Spadros Manor was an large white building with several columns around the edge of a porch which spanned the front of the building. An imposing two-story building, but “manor” was too grand a word for it: a short walk from the street to a short flight of steps, up to the porch and a large pair of white wooden doors. A middle-aged man dressed in a black suit opened the door and ushered Kelly down a long, white-paneled hallway trimmed in pale blue, then Kelly turned right, out a set of French doors to her left, and onto a veranda.

Mrs. Spadros awaited Kelly in the garden, which was full of various flowers, herbs, and small trees, which were just beginning to bud out. She was a young woman, in her early 20’s, wearing a deep blue walking dress, high necked and long sleeved, and black button boots. Her hair was a deep reddish brown and her skin was light brown. As Kelly approached, she notice Mrs. Spadros’ eyes are dark blue.

She sat at a small table under a lawn umbrella, rising as Kelly and the man approached. She seemed a bit wary, but held out her hand. “Miss Blanchard, mum,” the man said. A maid stood ten feet away, waiting, and as Kelly gazed around, she noticed men in dark brown suits in the distance, watching everything but her. They wore dark spectacles.

“Thank you, Pearson,” she said. Her voice was sultry. A glass of what looked like liquor sat on the table, and she smelled of cigarettes. She turneds to you. “Would you like anything to drink?”

Kelly took a seat and shook her head. “I’m fine, but thank you. Anything but water tends to give me a headache, which is never fun.” She took in her surroundings briefly before focusing on Jacqui. “So, how should I address you? Mrs. Spadros? Jacqui? Or what do you prefer?” She raised her brows.

She gave an amused smile. “Please, call me Jacqui.” She gestured to the maid. “Bring a glass of water.” The maid curtsied and left, returning with a glass of water.

“Thank you.” Kelly nodded with a smile. “So…quite a luxurious life you have here. How did you end up here? How did you end up married to your husband? Was it arranged? Or what exactly?”

Jacqui gave a brief but pointed stare. “It’s a long story.”

Kelly spread out her hands as she sat back in her chair. “I have time.”

Jacqui leaned back, hand to her chin, and gazed off to her right. “Our fathers are acquainted with each other.”

“So it sounds like your marriage was a convenient arrangement.” Kelly nodded. She wasn’t here to judge—only discover the truth. However, she paused and looked around at those shadows of Jacqui, and she had to ask, “What they hear, you’re not worried that they will repeat anything to anyone, are you? Because this conversation is best done in an environment where you feel most safe.”

Jacqui glanced at the men in the distance and the maid ten feet away and laughed. “I’m perfectly safe here. Tell me, what is it that you do?”

Kelly smiled and tilted her head to a side. “I meet with people like you and ask them difficult questions.” Then she returned to her original line of questions. “It sounds as though your marriage was a convenient arrangement between the two fathers. Do you love your husband?”

Jacqui smiled. “We’ve been married three years now.”

“That doesn’t mean anything.” Kelly shook her head. “Do you love him?”

She shrugged. “You’re obviously an outsider.” She paused for a moment. “No offense.”

“That’s a no.” Kelly read her body language. “Of course there’s nothing you can do about it because you’re married into a mob boss family. How does that make you feel?”

Jacqui chuckled, but it seemed strained. “Does it matter?”

“It matters to me because it’s the truth as to who you are even if you don’t admit it yourself.” Kelly wouldn’t let go.

“Are you some sort of psychological analyst?” Jacqui’s eyes narrowed. Then she laughed. “You’d find plenty to work on here.”

“Nope, nothing like that.” Kelly smiled. “That doesn’t mean I’m not good at my job though.” She chuckled. “However…” She leaned forward, meeting Jacqui’ eyes. “You’re dodging the question.”

Jacqui leaned back and smiled broadly. “And what question would that be?”

“How do you feel about being trapped in a family you don’t care about?” Kelly tilted her head. She was used to interviewing people like this.

Jacqui glanced at the maid and said, “Bring my cigarettes.” Once the maid left, she lowered her voice to a whisper. “Are you trying to get me killed? Who sent you here?

Kelly just gave her a look. “See, you are worried about what you say, and you don’t feel completely safe here, and this doesn’t help our conversation. I need you to be completely honest with me, and you’re not. If you would like, I could take you elsewhere for the duration of our conversation.”

Jacqui sat in thought until the maid returned with the bronze cigarette case. Jacqui set the closed case on the table. “Go clean the veranda. If I need you, I’ll call.” The maid curtsied and retreated to the veranda thirty yards away. “There. Are you satisfied now?”

“I’ll be satisfied once you actually answer the question I asked, and no, I don’t back down.” Kelly held her gaze.

Jacqui chuckled. “I like you.” The she paused a moment. “What was the question again?”

“Are you going to answer it this time?” Kelly raised her brows, but she went on to repeat it again. They’d been at this for only 30 minutes, and Jacqui hadn’t really answered a single question yet. “I asked how you feel about being trapped in a family that you don’t care about?”

Jacqui took a deep breath and let it out. “It’s not that I don’t care about them. I’m fond of Tony’s little sister.” She paused, staring off to her left, tapping her fingertips on her pursed lips. “I guess I feel as anyone would in such a situation.”

In a way, Jacqui still didn’t answer the question, but she had provided enough that Kelly felt she could move on. “You said your father and father-in-law are friends, so I’m assuming you grew up knowing the family you’d marry into. What was it like? Were you good friends with Tony back then? With his little sister?”

Jacqui still stared off to her left, right leg crossed over her left, her foot kicking out slightly every second. “I met Tony when we were twelve. Katie was just a baby then. And friends is a good word to use, yes.”

Again, she dodged the question. Kelly got the feeling that this was going to be a very long conversation indeed. It reminded her of another interview she had that took place over the course of two days, and she hoped this wouldn’t be a repeat of that.  So, Kelly tried again. “You met Tony when you were both twelve, so did you interact with each other? Or was he just like all the other boys at that age, and just plain annoying?”

Jacqui laughed, and this time it seemed real. “Annoying. Yes.” She paused. “I spent most of the first few years being angry with him.”

“Why were you angry with him?” Kelly tilted her head to a side. This was a curious development.

Jacqui took a deep breath, then let it out with a giggle. “He was so strange! So quiet! It was infuriating. He only ever got upset about anything at the first … no, I suppose second … day we met. Other than that he would just say nothing. It was like looking at some store doll.”

Kelly furrowed her brows when she heard this description. It was interesting. “Was the arrangement of your marriage already determined by then? Or not yet?”

Jacqui pursed her lips again and frowned, tapping her lips. “I don’t know. Maybe.” She paused for several heartbeats. “Perhaps so.” She spoke as if these was a revelation. “Roy did say …” She blinked, and shook her head a bit. “Now that you mention it, I do think that’s what they had in mind, even then.”

“Do you think Tony knew that, so that’s why he reacted the way he did when you two met?” She lifted her brows.

“Hmm,” Jacqui said. “He was just twelve.” She let out a short laugh. “I don’t know.”

“But you know him now,” Kelly pointed out. “How has he changed?”

Jacqui sat for several seconds, staring off to her left. When she spoke, her voice sounded distant and sad. “He does what he has to do.” She faced Kelly. “He … sometimes I feel as if he’s still that boy, afraid of his father. Don’t misunderstand; he’s a fine man. But…I feel at times he wishes he had been born under different circumstances.” She sighed. “As we all do, I suppose.”

Kelly nodded. She could understand his fear. Even though she didn’t know anything about his father yet, she could only imagine. “And does he know that you’re relatively unhappy with your marriage to him?”

A brief, alarmed look crossed Jacqui’s face. “No.He must never know.”

Kelly gave her a look and ventured further. “Do you think he is happy with the marriage?”

Jacqui’s eyes grew thoughtful, sad. “He loves me very much.” She sighed. She glanced over at Kelly. “To be honest, I don’t know.”

Kelly gave her a look. “I get the sense that both of you are unhappy with the marriage, and it’s a completely unspoken agreement not to mention it. There are things you do without realizing that speak of your unhappiness, and I’m certain he senses it and likely wishes, as you said, he had been born under different circumstances, so he could be a different man. Have you considered that?”

Jacqui’s eyes narrowed, then she nodded. “I’m not sure what to do about it, though.” She smiled. “I suppose we’ll just have to muddle through.”

“Isn’t that always the complication?” Kelly raised her brows, shaking her head. “I don’t know your exact situation, so I can’t offer might advice. I merely wanted you to consider that thought. However, let’s change the topic a little…” Kelly leaned forward, “How did you meet Joseph Kerr?”

Jacqui stared at Kelly, mouth open. “Where … how …?”

Kelly laughed and shrugged. “I know things.”

“I am astonished.”

“But you’re not answering my question.”

Jacqui looked astonished, and a laugh burst from her. “Well, if you must know, we grew up together. I’ve known him and his sister since I was born.”

Kelly nodded when she heard this. “So, you two were lovers at one time. I’m assuming your marriage to Tony came between that?” She raised her brows.

Jacqui stared at Kelly, fear in her eyes. “No one must ever know that. I beg you.”

Kelly leaned in, locking eyes with her, and spoke quietly, “You can trust me, Jacqui. After today, you won’t see me again, and you won’t hear from me either. I have no one to tell.”

Jacqui gently bit her lip for a moment, then nodded.

Kelly watched her then asked again quietly, “So what happened?”

Jacqui swallowed then nodded, not meeting Kelly’s eye. “It is as you say. We had promised to each other. Joe said he would get money to leave here on the zeppelin, but … I was taken here and not allowed to return.” She shook her head slightly.

“Tell me of Joseph. What is he like?”

Jacqui’s face lit up. “He is the most…the handsomest man I’ve ever seen.” Color flooded her face, and she glowed with some memory. Then she became somber. “I miss him terribly,” she whispered.

Kelly nodded her understanding. “How long has it been sense you last saw him?”

Jacqui spoke in a light voice, but didn’t meet Kelly’s gaze. “Oh, he and his sister were at the Grand Ball on New Year’s Eve … a few weeks ago. And we visited them the next day.”

“You and Tony visited with them? Or did you get a chance to be with Joseph?” Kelly lifted her brows as she sat back in her chair to listen.

Jacqui still didn’t meet Kelly’s gaze. “Joe helped us during the Grand Ball, and Tony and I visited as thanks.” She turned to Kelly. “It’s difficult for them, being Kerrs and all. Most people avoid being seen with them.” Jacqui’s eyes grew thoughtful. “It was kind of Tony to do that. He can be kind – people don’t understand him. He’s not a warm person outwardly, but … Tony has many good qualities about him.”

Kelly didn’t understand the history between the families, but she was certain there was more than could be discussed in the time they had. “Tony sounds gracious, but I’m sorry you have to be apart from the man you actually love.” Jacqui met Kelly’s gaze briefly, and Kelly decided to change the topic of the conversation. “So, I understand you’re a private investigator as well…how did you get into that?”

Jacqui smiled. “Well … I began when I was sixteen, after I was forbidden to return. I hated being here, and I needed something to do other than needlepoint.” She laughed, then shrugged, a wry grin on her face. “I used to spy out things back home, so … “

Kelly smiled. “Well, I’m glad you found something to do, but how is it possible for you, the wife of a mob boss, to be a PI? Don’t people know who you are?”

“I have my ways of disguise.”

This made sense, so Kelly nodded. “So, I understand you’re looking into a kidnapping case?” She raised her brows.

“Not exactly.” She shook her head. “I’m not going to try to understand how you know about that …” She frowned. “Are you allied with them? It would be a pity if I had to kill you.”

Kelly laughed at this. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t laugh, but I can assure you, you wouldn’t be the first person who has tried to kill me, but no, I’m not allied with anyone.”

“Do you know where David is?”

“Who’s David?”

Jacqui snorted. “It was a foolish question. To answer yours, I don’t do police cases – as a matter of routine. But there are things about this one which interest me.”

Kelly tilted her head to a side. Jacqui was dodging again. “I’m assuming David is the kid, and I understand that he’s the son to a childhood friend of yours. Did he ask you to look into this case?”

Jacqui seemed confused for a moment, then said, “No, his father is dead, as far as I know. His mother asked me to look into it.”

“See? I don’t know everything.” Kelly smiled at Jacqui but then nodded. “Okay, so…how did she know you do PI work if you try to keep it low key?”

Jacqui leaned back. “Well, that’s just one thing which is odd about this … I don’t know. She said that when she went to the police station that a man and woman sat nearby as she spoke to the constable. Afterwards, they told her where to inquire. But I don’t know who they might be.”

Kelly furrowed her brows as she heard this. “What else is odd about this case?”

Jacqui leaned forward, resting her arms on the table. “There was a strange ink-stamp on the wall of a dog, all in red, across the alley where the boy was last seen. It’s the mark of a new street gang called the Red Dogs. But members of the Red Dogs who I’ve contacted deny knowing anything about the matter, and seem angry that someone would do this. Also, I believe someone is following me. It began the day I met with David’s mother.”

Kelly narrowed her eyes. “Why would someone be following you?”

Jacqui shook her head. “I don’t know. I keep seeing a man in brown, but I never see his face. He seems familiar, though.”

Think it’s part of the Red Dog gang or someone related to the kidnapping or…one of your father-in-law’s men?” Kelly lifted her brows.

“No.” Jacqui shook her head, but frowned, as if not sure. “I don’t know who it is. But…it frightens me. I feel as if it could be one of the kidnappers.”

“Hmm…” Kelly sat back, musing over this. “Have you told anyone?”

Jacqui shook her head. “The last thing I need is to be caged here even more than I am.”

“Understandable, but…what are you doing to protect yourself?”

Jacqui grinned, and a knife appeared as if out of nowhere, then disappeared just as quickly. “I’ll be fine.” She reached down to adjust her dress hem so it covered her left boot.

Kelly regarded the show of the knife. She knew those were only as good as being within range, but she nodded. “I hope you are, and I know you’ll solve this case eventually.” She then folded her arms as she contemplated another shift of the conversation. “Tell me of your father-in-law. I get the impression you don’t like him very much.”

Jacqui laughed. “You obviously don’t know who Roy Spadros is. No one likes him very much.” She paused. “Well, Katie does, but she’s a little girl, and a sheltered one at that. Even the other Family heads are afraid of him.”

“You’re right. I don’t know him, but just by your descriptions, I’m assuming he’s a very deadly individual. I wouldn’t expect less from someone in his position, however…why you?” Kelly leaned forward. “Why would he agree to have his son marry you–of all women? Yes, I know you said your father and he were friends, but still…someone with Roy’s reputation, that’s not a solid reason, so why?”

“That’s something I’ve asked myself more than once. And no one is ‘friends’ with my father. Like I said, it’s a long story.”

Kelly nodded, “And unfortunately this time our time is actually quite short. Actually, I have to be leaving soon. However…” she lingered for a moment. “I’d like you to really consider your marriage with Tony. Observe him. Read his body language. Determine if he’s happy with it or not. I’m not saying there’s a way out of it, and I’m not telling you to leave him, but…if the two of you can come to an understanding, then maybe something might happen.” Kelly shrugged as she rose to her feet. “I don’t know. You know the situation better than me, but…otherwise, you’re lying to yourself about the marriage.”

Jacqui shrugged. “What choices do I have?”

“Two choices: do something or do nothing.”

“I don’t think you understand the situation. I can do nothing, that has been made very clear. For the sake of myself and my family, I just have to make sure we all survive.”

“And that is unfortunate.” Kelly bowed her head. “However, I must be going. I’ve taken enough of your time, but I am grateful we’ve had this conversation. You needn’t worry about anyone finding out about what was said here. As I said, you’ll never see or hear from me again, but thank you for taking the time to talk.” She smiled at her. “I hope you have a good day…and solve that case.”

Jacqui smiled back. “Thank you. And I’m sorry to hear that. You would make a formidable ally. You have given me many things to consider, and for that I thank you.”

“You are most welcome. I hope you the best.” With that, she left.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Patricia Loofbourrow’s bookThe Jacq of Spades: Part 1 of the Red Dog Conspiracy’ and its sequel are now widely available online. Be sure to follow her on social media!

Website: http://www.jacqofspades.com 

Blog: http://www.pattyloof.com/blog/the-jacq-of-spades/ 

Book Page: http://goo.gl/6msTrS

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jacq_Of_Spades 

Tumblr: http://red-dog-conspiracy.tumblr.com/ 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdVa8BVQehVzS_GUFYsgcSQ

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ediblelandesign/the-jacq-of-spades/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27407137-the-jacq-of-spades

Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/5718633

Amazon paperback: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1944223002

Kindle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017X29XUU/

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B017X29XUU

Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B017X29XUU

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/589496

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-jacq-of-spades-patricia-loofbourrow/1122885535

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-jacq-of-spades

Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/book/288183764/The-Jacq-of-Spades

Indigo (CA): https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-jacq-of-spades-part/9781944223007-item.html

Bookbyte: https://www.bookbyte.com/textbooks/the-jacq-of-spades-the-red/9781944223007-1944223002

Book Depository (UK): http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Jacq-of-Spades/9781944223007

LibraryThing: https://www.librarything.com/work/17007767

Alibris: http://www.alibris.com/The-Jacq-of-Spades-Part-1-of-the-Red-Dog-Conspiracy-Patricia-Loofbourrow/book/33559439

AbeBooks: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=17782354478

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781944223007

Booktopia (AU): http://www.booktopia.com.au/the-jacq-of-spades-patricia-loofbourrow/prod9781944223007.html

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-jacq-of-spades/id1054901909?mt=11

AUDIOBOOK LINKS

Audible: http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/The-Jacq-of-Spades-Audiobook/B01JDI43UM/

Audible UK: http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Crime-Thrillers/The-Jacq-of-Spades-Audiobook/B01JDI1ILO

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/audiobook/jacq-spades-red-dog-conspiracy/id1140270382

BOOK 2: The Queen of Diamond: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JDTWYIE

Author Interview: Patricia Loofborrow

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Patricia (Patty) was written by Patricia Loofbourrow)

Kelly passed through the beautiful manor until she found herself to the peaceful gardens. With no one around, the place was quiet, and she allowed herself a small smile, soaking in the peace of this place. It was nice after a stressful day.

She meandered the beaten path until she found a bench under the shade of a tree, and there she sat, content on waiting until her guest arrived.

Soon she heard footsteps, and Kelly lifted her head and rose to her feet as a woman came around the corner. “Hi, I’m Kelly. You must be Patricia Loofbourrow.” She stretched out her hand to shake Patricia’s. “How are you today?”

“I’m fine, thanks. And you?” Patty reached out and shook Kelly’s hand. She then sat beside her.

“I’m quite well, thanks. Lovely place here. I always enjoy gardens.” Kelly smiled as she took in her surroundings before focusing on Patty once more. “So, tell me a bit about yourself. When did you first get interested in writing?”

“High school. I used to write poetry, a journal, things like that. Never anything for others to read. I was pretty shy back then.” There was an awkward silence, then Patty seemed to remember the rest of the question. “I had always wanted to write a novel, but never did until I ran across an article online about NaNoWriMo. This was in 2005.” She smiled. “I sort of got hooked on it.”

Kelly chuckled. “Yeah, NaNo has a way of doing that. What did you think the first time you did NaNo though? Having to write 50,000 words in one month. Did you find it easy? Or what was your experience?” She tilted her head to a said as she observed Patty.

“Well…right after I found out about NaNo my husband came home and told me he was being transferred and had to report to work in six weeks. We had lived there for 14 years and had three school age children, one with multiple medical problems. We got to our new home on October 28th, and I spent the first week of NaNo sitting on the floor writing in my laptop, because the movers hadn’t arrived with the furniture yet.” She laughed. “So I don’t know if I would call it easy. But it was fun. I already knew what I wanted to write, so it went pretty well as far as that goes.”

“Wow!” Kelly shook her head. “Well, that was quite a welcome to NaNo. Did you manage to achieve the 50,000 word goal though?” She raised her brows.

Patty nodded. “Yep. I sure did!” She beamed proudly. “After that, I did a NaNo that they had in April, and won that one too. I felt like this was something I was good at, so I kept writing. I haven’t always won NaNo, or even done it, but I write all of my novels that way.”

“Awesome! Congrats on that!” Kelly grinned back. She loved hearing of writer’s successes with their stories. “Would you say then that NaNo influenced the way you write? I mean, did it give you more of a definite goal when it comes to writing?”

“I feel as if it helps me not analyze myself while I’m writing. I can tend to drop into that mode when I stress about it, but if you HAVE to write 1667 words today you just don’t have the luxury of that sort of thing.” She grinned.

“Exactly.” Kelly snapped her fingers when she heard this. “You just write, and it’s wonderful! So…” she shifted in her seat to look at Patty more directly. “What do you write? Do you have a specific genre, or just anything?”

“I’ve written in a bunch of different genres, but science fiction is my first love.” Patty smiled. “I love the ‘what if?’ aspect to it. Plus, as a scientist, it’s fun to speculate on what the future may hold.”

“I was just about to ask what you loved about it.” Kelly grinned. “Science fiction is pretty awesome!” Then she widened her eyes. “You’re a scientist too? Amazing! Okay, so I need to ask, ” She leaned forward, setting her chin in her palm, “How does your knowledge in science work with your writing? Are you very technical when it comes to worldbuilding? Or do you just let things happen?”

Patty paused in thought for a moment. “I think a bit of both. Writing a NaNo means I have to move very fast, but I usually do a good deal of research before I begin. I’ll have the big picture mapped out and the major tech thought through. That helps. Occasionally, I’ll have to stop and do some research before moving forward, because it bugs me when I’m not sure if this really could happen. I guess I tend towards hard SF, although I’ve written my share of FTL and ‘wormhole’ stories.” She chuckles at the thought. “Not that I disbelieve we may have and find those things in the future, but this point that’s moving towards a more space opera/science fantasy sort of thing.”

“Science fiction is fun regardless, and I’m glad you’ve found a way to balance both reality of science with your writing.” Kelly nodded then decided to shift the conversation a bit. “So, tell me about one of your stories–whichever one you’d like to talk about. What is it about?”

Patty perked up at once. “Ooo! My novel series is a mixture of far future science fiction and hard-boiled detective neo-noir. It’s called The Jacq of Spades, and is about a female private eye in a domed city which is  now split between four crime families. The sort of science I most like to talk about is – I suppose, strangely enough—is the cultural aspects of societies.” She paused. “Sociology? Future anthropology?” She laughed. “I’m not sure what you might call it. But cultures of the future are what interest me the  most: how people deal with the scientific advances—or lack thereof—in the future.” She continued on, “But in that I still like to be realistic as much as possible. Human nature doesn’t really change all that much, so it’s still possible to write a story that has meaning for today, no matter how far in the future it might be set.”

Kelly nodded. “I actually deal with the future sociology as an aspect of my story too, so I know exactly what you’re talking about.” She then absorbed everything Patty said and then shook her head. “It sounds complexed! Just hearing the overview of the story, but that’s pretty awesome. I’m sure you manage it well.” She gave Patty a confident grin. “So, tell me about the characters.” She leaned forward. “Who’s the hero? The villain? What are the immediate conflicts or struggles they face?”

Patty giggled, and a crafty gleam entered her eye at the word VILLAIN. “The main character is a young woman named Jacqueline Spadros. She’s 22 years old, but has gone through some difficult things in her life. She was born in a no-man’s-land area of the city known as the Pot, and because of that was considered one of the untouchables of the city. When she was 12, her best friend was killed in front of her and she was sold to the Spadros crime family. Later, she was blackmailed into marrying her husband, the heir to the Spadros Family. The night her friend was murdered, another man’s friend was murdered. His name is Jack Diamond, and he has publicly threatened Jacqui’s life. Ten years later, he still wants revenge, as the man who claims to be Jacqui’s father murdered Jack’s friend. But Jacqui has other problems.” Patty shook her head and sighed.

“Due to the murder, she has nightmares on a daily basis. She smokes and drinks heavily. She feels trapped in her own home, and has been forbidden to see her mother or family. And she lives in fear, because she knows that if anything happens to her husband, she loses the protection of her Family and then Jack Diamond will be free to kill her. And the man has a horrific reputation. So she has become a private investigator to earn money of her own so she can hire bodyguards and flee the city, should her husband be killed – which is the usual route for a mob boss.” Patty chuckled. “And that’s where she is when the story begins.”

Kelly held up her hand. “Wait a second. She’s in fear of her life, so she becomes a PI? Isn’t that a dangerous line of work?”

“Yeah, it is. But she’s grown up on the streets. That’s where she feels most comfortable. And up to now, she’s been more of – if we were to write about her – would be considered a cozy mystery PI. Tracking down renters who skipped town, cheating husbands, and the like. When she gets the case which begins the novel, she turns it down, because it’s too much for her and she knows it.”

A smile grew on her face as Kelly heard this. “I really like the sound of this story. Sounds so complex and intriguing!” But then her phone chimed, and she looked at it and frowned. “Alarm clock—letting me know that our time is almost up.” She gave Patty an apologetic look. “But a few more questions. First, you have a title for this story? And is it just one story or a series?”

Patty leans back. “It’s called The Jacq of Spades, and it’s the first in a series I call the Red Dog Conspiracy”

“It certainly sounds fantastic!” Kelly grinned at Patty. “Oh, and before I forget! What inspired this specific story?” She raised her brows.

Patty laughed. “I was trying to figure out what to do for NaNo 2014, and a couple of sentences came to me! And they intrigued me so much I began to build a story around them. But then I realized I was in the wrong spot in the story, that what I needed to do was go back and write how they got to this point. So The Jacq of Spades is really a prequel to get me to my inspiration, which is going to be the first lines in book 6.” She beamed in excitement.

“Oh wow. That’s amazing! So interesting that a full story—or series of stories–could be born with just a few sentences, isn’t it?” Kelly smiled at Patty once more. But then she had to sigh and rise to her feet. “Well, Patty, unfortunately our time is up, and I have another interview to meet. However, I really enjoyed chatting with you and hearing about your story. Keep me posted on your endeavors, would you? If I ever find the time to read, I’d love to read your books.”

“Awesome! Well, you can find them on Amazon, or anywhere else. If your bookstore doesn’t carry The Jacq of Spades, make them order it for you!” She grinned.

Patty rose as well. “Thanks so much for meeting with me!”

“Fantastic! I will have to keep the in mind when I finally get the chance to breathe and read.” Kelly smiled then motioned to the gardens. “You’re welcome to stay here and explore if you’d like. I need to head out. You have a good day, all right? It was great meeting you.”

“Nice meeting you too.”

“Take care!” With that, Kelly waved once more with a smile and headed out.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Patricia Loofbourrow’s bookThe Jacq of Spades: Part 1 of the Red Dog Conspiracy’ and its sequel are now widely available online. Be sure to follow her on social media!

Website: http://www.jacqofspades.com 

Blog: http://www.pattyloof.com/blog/the-jacq-of-spades/ 

Book Page: http://goo.gl/6msTrS

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jacq_Of_Spades 

Tumblr: http://red-dog-conspiracy.tumblr.com/ 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdVa8BVQehVzS_GUFYsgcSQ

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ediblelandesign/the-jacq-of-spades/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27407137-the-jacq-of-spades

Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/5718633

Amazon paperback: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1944223002

Kindle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017X29XUU/

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B017X29XUU

Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B017X29XUU

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/589496

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-jacq-of-spades-patricia-loofbourrow/1122885535

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-jacq-of-spades

Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/book/288183764/The-Jacq-of-Spades

Indigo (CA): https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-jacq-of-spades-part/9781944223007-item.html

Bookbyte: https://www.bookbyte.com/textbooks/the-jacq-of-spades-the-red/9781944223007-1944223002

Book Depository (UK): http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Jacq-of-Spades/9781944223007

LibraryThing: https://www.librarything.com/work/17007767

Alibris: http://www.alibris.com/The-Jacq-of-Spades-Part-1-of-the-Red-Dog-Conspiracy-Patricia-Loofbourrow/book/33559439

AbeBooks: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=17782354478

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781944223007

Booktopia (AU): http://www.booktopia.com.au/the-jacq-of-spades-patricia-loofbourrow/prod9781944223007.html

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-jacq-of-spades/id1054901909?mt=11

AUDIOBOOK LINKS

Audible: http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/The-Jacq-of-Spades-Audiobook/B01JDI43UM/

Audible UK: http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Crime-Thrillers/The-Jacq-of-Spades-Audiobook/B01JDI1ILO

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/audiobook/jacq-spades-red-dog-conspiracy/id1140270382

BOOK 2: The Queen of Diamond: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JDTWYIE

<~>~<~>~<~>

Author Interview: Adrienne Devine

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Adrienne was written by Adrienne Devine.)

Ideas, ideas—too many ideas swirled through Kelly’s mind as she sat on a couch off to the side in the coffee shop with hot chocolate in hand. She had hit a tangle in her story and was listening to all the characters voicing their opinion of what should happen and what should wait. A few times she mentally hushed the louder ones in order to pull the quieter ones aside to determine why they did what they did, but Kelly realized there was a lot being unsaid, and she didn’t have the time to untangle it all.

The door of the coffee shop chimed as someone entered, and Kelly glimpsed up. She locked eyes with the woman and smiled as she rose to her feet with hot chocolate in hand and went to greet her. “Adrienne Devine?” She raised her brows as she shook her hand. “Kelly Blanchard. Thanks for coming. Do you want to get something to drink?” She motioned to the counter.

“Certainly!” Adrienne smiled at the woman as she greeted her. “I’m glad to be here.” She started towards the counter. “I’m equally as glad to see coffee!” As she turned her head, she felt the classic tug near the top of her head that was her hair starting to come down, so she reached up and tugged it down. The bright blue and pink strands near the front of her face fell into their spot as the rest of the auburn cascade fell nearly to her waist. She corralled her hair back into a low ponytail and smiled again. “I’m going for an iced mocha.”

“Go ahead. I’ll be here.” Kelly smiled at her, and Adrienne went to the counter and soon returned with her mocha, and the two sat across from each other at a small table.

One comfortable, Kelly nodded at Adrienne. “So, I always seem to start with this question with interviews, but it seems like a good place to start. Tell me a bit about yourself—what it is you do and how it ties into you being a writer.” With this, Kelly sat back in her chair, took her drink in hand, and took a sip as she waited for an answer.

Adrienne folded her arms on the edge of the table and chewed on the end of her straw for a moment. “I wouldn’t quite say that what I do ties into being a writer. Something I’ve done in the past was a slightly better match for writing, but it wasn’t enough to live on.” She sat back in her seat. “Currently, I work in an assisted living facility for the elderly. The main perk is I work overnights. The main negative is that the overnight shift is 10PM-6AM.”

Adrienne made a face. “We really only deal with about six of the thirty odd residents, and for the most part, they don’t really tell us stories. In the past, I worked in a bakery café. I spent a lot of time while working there simply paying attention to names and body language. I also saw some of the coolest things. Yes, most of those things were later written down in a little notebook and added to a massive idea file that I keep a copy of on every computer I have, as well as in all of my emails.” She laughed. “I think that means I have about nine or ten backups of everything anymore.”

This caused Kelly to tilt her head to a side as she smiled. “People watching is always fun.” She leaned forward, settling her elbows on the table, and the smile remained, “So, you hinted at witnessing some of the coolest things—such as??” She raised her brows.

“I think my favorite things included…” Adrienne paused for a moment as tears fill her eyes. She pulled the napkin out from under her cup and dried up her eyes. “My favorite things included the Romeos, as they called themselves. And you’ll have to forgive me, their number grew smaller a couple of years ago, I still get teary when I think about the whole group and their shenanigans. A couple of other favorites included our knitting club, Wally, and the Principal and his wife. There are a few other one-off people that amused me as well, like the guy who pretty much always came into the store wearing a utility kilt. And there was the lady that I rang up one day who had the coolest eyes. Dark blue at the rims of the irises, fading to white at the pupil.”

Adrienne shook her head. “I still go and sit with the Romeos from time to time for breakfast, and on Saturdays I have brunch with the Principal and his wife.”

Kelly was touched by Adrienne, and she gave her an encouraging smile as she sat back in her chair. “So what was so unique about these people that they’ve touched you so deeply?”

Adrienne took a sip of her drink and leaned her head back. “The Romeos were a group of anywhere from four to ten retired old guys, their words—not mine—who would meet for coffee starting around 7:30am and they’d basically take over the two tables in front of the fireplace until the last one left anywhere between 9:30am and 10am.  There was a guy who was an entomologist, but always was dressed like an archeologist. Occasionally, he would bring in these framed things of perfectly displayed bugs. Most often it was butterfly collections. The one who passed was a stained glass artist in his retirement, though he’d been in the army and had been a big time marketing executive with IBM. The others had equally as odd combinations, and somehow they’d managed to be friends for over forty years through several cross country moves.”

Adrienne shook her head. “The stories I can tell of them would take days, sometimes.” She laughed. “Wally was this African British man. Moved to our town from London with his wife thanks to a job, and everyone else had the hardest time understanding him. I had no trouble at all, and actually enjoyed talking to him. I’ll never forget the day I flat out asked him what we should call him, because ‘large coffee British dude’ just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. He told us his name, and we clearly made faces because he immediately told us to call him Wally. It was something like Olawale with a couple of accents somewhere. That year was our store’s second Christmas, and it was the first time he brought us cashiers a gift.”

“The principal and his wife have practically adopted me as a spare child. At least once every couple of months, someone will come up to us as we’re having brunch and ask if I’m their daughter. I look enough like his wife that we understand where the idea comes from.”

“Amazing.” Kelly smiled as she took it all in. “So did your experiences there at all influence your writing? Did you ever find yourself putting elements of those people in your stories?”

Adrienne began to rotate her cup in her hands. “The Romeos know full well that they’ve been entirely kidnapped and turned into professors for one of my stories. I needed about ten professors and was having issues figuring out how to keep them individual, so one day I sat down with a notebook in the middle of their cluster and started taking notes. Notes on things they said, what they did, how they moved. Parker, the one who’s gone now, noticed first and wanted to know what I was doing, so I told him, and suddenly they were all excited about it. They also helped me figure out what the courses they would “teach” were.” Adrienne shook her head and laughed. “When I left the café job, I had to take a notebook to their table and get all of their contact information so I could get a hold of them when I self-publish the book and can hand it off to them all.”

“The principal and his wife are basically my cheering squad. She’s really good at asking what my word count is during NaNoWriMo, and making sure that I’ve got backups of things. He’s just a goofy mess. I love them anyways.”

“That sound like fantastic people! I’m glad you have such an awesome support team.” Kelly flashed her another smile then sipped on her drink before lowering her cup and asking, “Okay, so we’ve got to focus on your stories. What genre do you write? Have you published anything? And what are you working on now?” Then she paused, “Sorry for bombarding you with questions, but they come to me all at once, and I’m curious!” Kelly gave her an apologetic shrug with a smile.

“Don’t worry about it!” Adrienne smiled and took a sip of her own drink as well. “I tend to write sci-fi and fantasy the most. Occasionally, I’ll sneak out into urban paranormal, but that’s really only one of the many WIPs that live in my currently working on pile.” Adrienne rested her elbows on the edge of the table and put her chin on her hands. “As far as publishing goes, I haven’t gotten anything accepted, and I don’t want to self-publish something as short as the one story I’ve got finished. It’s only about 5,900 words, so most would balk at buying it. It does have a couple of stories that go with it, so I’m working on finishing those and I’ll release a whole set of short stories at once. I’m not actively working on those right now, however. What I’m actively working on are my steampunk fantasy and my urban fantasy. With some of the mental things I deal with, it’s easier for me to focus if I’m constantly working on at least two stories at a time. The urban fantasy is what the Romeos helped me with, and the steampunk was my first NaNoWriMo win. It’s got some pretty ugly plot holes and about a quarter of it consists of a few pages with the phrase ‘stuff the war in here’, so it needs some serious work.” Adrienne laughed. “My region often thinks I’m crazy because during NaNo, I’’m usually working on anywhere from three to four stories, and possibly plotting out another.”

Kelly shook her head. “Wow! You have quite the imagination, and I applaud you for it. No idea how you keep it all straight.” But she smiled at her. “So, of all your stories, which one do you want to discuss with me right now?” She raised her brows.

Adrienne took a deep breath and smiled. “I’d like to discuss my steampunk chaos, as it was the first time I actually managed to figure out a complete plot while entirely winging it.”

“Sure thing!” Kelly nodded and set her now-empty cup on the table then flashed Adrienne a grin as she leaned forward, resting her forearms on the table. “So, tell me all about it! What’s it about? Who are the characters? What are the conflicts they encounter?”

“It’s about a window of time in this world where magic has begun to evolve. But the characters aren’t entirely aware that that’s what’s going on. It opens with a kidnapping. The main storyline is trying to rescue the kidnapped individual. The three main characters are Aili, Aydan Elisyndra, and Quail. Aili is the leader of the Magi Council. Aydan is the Captain of the Revanta company, and commands the airship Revanta. Quail is a six-year-old boy who witnessed an event that is one of the major clues that what’s going on is bigger than just a kidnapping.”

Adrienne shook her head. “There’s a small army of other important people who pop up in the story, but it’s mostly those three. Well Aili’s assistant slash ladies maid Erin is almost always found with her mistress.” She smiled down at her coffee cup. “One of the major things that they encounter spawns from a major event in the Revanta’s history. The former XO of the Revanta itself had been in love with his captain, but Aydan didn’t like him. She rebuffed him about six times, and then one day, he attempted to blow her up. He succeeded in blowing a hole in the side of her ship and taking out about 200 of her crew. He’s in one of the cities they have to visit to figure out what’s going on and get more military support. They don’t realize he’s there until they’ve been there a couple of days. It causes a bit of chaos.”

“Very interesting!” Kelly’s eyes lit as she heard the summary of the story. “And of all the characters, who’s your favorite? And who’s the most fun to write?” She cocked her head to a side as she smiled.

Adrienne laughed and scrunched up her nose. “Without a doubt, it is my absolute favorite thing to write the scenes where Aili and Aydan are in the same room. Once upon a time in the history of this world, Aili was a lower rank than she is now, and she served on the Revanta as the company’s lead Magi. These two women use sarcasm and sass on each other at such a level that half the time the newer crew honestly thinks they hate each other. The older crew just takes bets on how long it will take them to just basically declare a sass and sarcasm war on each other.” She shook her head. “Aydan truthfully uses sarcasm and sass as a defensive mechanism, Aili had figured it out and also figured out a way through it. They’re really good friends, and to this day in the series, Aydan actually hasn’t replaced Aili. It’s been maybe five or six years since Aili left the ship.”

She tilted her head to one side. “Aili is complicated. She’s been a powerful magi since she was young, and something like 20 years ago, she was called upon to handle a situation that is related to the current mess. It didn’t quite turn out how she thought it would, and to this day she still feels like she failed. Aydan is the only person alive who knows how involved Aili was in that mess, and is perhaps one of the only people who knows how thoroughly Aili is going to be beating herself up about it in the present.”

“Sounds like quite a pair of characters, and I love it.” Kelly beamed. However, her eyes caught the clock on the back wall, and she frowned as she straightened. “Woah, we have gone quite a bit overtime! I’m sorry about that. Totally lost track of time because I was enthralled with everything you were saying, and unfortunately though, I need to get going. I’ve got another meeting. Ek!” Kelly gathered her purse. “I’m sorry about ending this abruptly. These interviews can go forever, and I honestly wouldn’t have a problem with that, but Real Life beckons.” She sighed heavily but then smiled at Adrienne as she rose to her feet. “Thank you for coming though! It was great meeting you and hearing all about your work. What is your story called, by the way? That way I can be on the lookout for it.”

Adrienne looked at her watch. “Yikes! I’ve got to go as well!” She scrambled to her feet and scooped up her own bag. “The steampunk story has a bit of a long title, but it makes sense to me. It’s ‘Of Mage Lights and War Machines’ and I’m most likely going to be self-publishing it in the first half of 2016, if everything goes according to plan.” Adrienne grinned. “It was great meeting you!”

“Great! Keep me posted about it, but for now I’ve got to run. Thanks again for meeting with me, and stay in touch!” The two walked to the door, exited, then parted ways—Adrienne to her life, and Kelly to her Muse Shop, and Kelly walked with a smile. It was always great meeting another author.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Adrienne Devine’s story ‘Of Mage Lights and War Machines’ has no set publication date. Be sure to stay in touch with her on social Media:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorAMDevine

Website: http://authoramdevine.com/