"In these pages many mysteries are hinted at.
What if you come to understand one of them?"

"Words let water from an unseen, infinite ocean
Come into this place as energy for the dying and even the dead."

"Bored onlookers, but with such Light in our eyes!
As we read this book, the jewel-lights intensify."

- Rumi

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Conversations with Fictional Characters

Greetings all. I'm getting ready for the San Jose Fantasy Festival, which is going down this weekend, April 14th and 15th. I'm especially excited about this weekend because it's the first time I'm going to be hanging out with my fellow fantasy writers at an event like this. Yeah, I go to conventions now and then, but this is the first time they'll be coming out to my territory. If you head over to the festival web site, you can check out all the event info, www.sjfantasy.com/ including all the writers who will be there.

One of the writers, Christopher Kellen, is a talented indie author, who I've developed a friendly rapport with over Twitter, Facebook, and email. Christopher has had some very nice things to say about my Tears of Rage books and Halloween Jack and the Devil's Gate. He's becoming quite the book reviewer over at his web site: christopherkellen.com

I've recently read Elegy and The Corpse King by Christopher Kellen. I've heard through the grapevine that is social networking that he's completed a rough draft of Legacy, Book Two of The Arbiter Codex, and he's shipped off copies to his beta readers. (Psst, Chris... I still haven't gotten mine yet.) Perhaps the reason I haven't gotten my copy is the same reason that Julianna and Faelin haven't been available for their scenes in Arms of the Storm is because Mr. Kellen "borrowed" them for a bit of an interview. I have a feeling you can  read that interview over at Mr. Kellen's web site.

Well, two can play at that game. You see, Mr. Kellen has a pair of characters who are also up to their necks in their own troubles. I happened upon a pair of Arbiters (a kind of warrior-priest inquisitor) D'Arden Tal and Elisa as they left the city of Calessa. I've got a few insightful questions for them, and I'm sure we'll get

 If you haven't read Elegy or The Corpse King, you can get them free for the Kindle on Amazon right now until 4/14. You should read these before continuing to the interview: one, because you may find some slight spoilers; two, because they are entertaining reads.

MTG: Manna, the magic of your world, is a rather dangerous thing. Do you think your world would be better off without it?

The Arbiter, with ice in his eyes, answers swiftly and certainly, as though by rote:  "Though it is true that direct exposure to manna is dangerous for anyone not protected by the heartblade, it is also the flows of that same power which cause life itself to exist. This is why it might be defended from corruption, for when the manna is corrupted, it is always death. Without it, the world itself would be barren and lifeless."

MTG: Considering the astonishing revelation brought on by Elisa's transformation into an Arbiter, what other beliefs the Arbiters hold to be true do you think might also be misleading or completely wrong?

"It is… difficult to say for certain." A war between reactionary anger and careful thought rages across his expression. His tone is measured and careful when he at last responds. "Naturally, one does not like to question the fundamental beliefs with which he has lived his entire life… yet, one must wonder whether the information is not known, or has been purposely kept a secret."

MTG: As you two worked together in Calessa, we witnessed several moments that might be considered to reveal an attraction between you two? Was this due to the life-and-death struggle you found yourselves in, or do you think you harbor emotions for each other that run deep that, for whatever reasons, you cannot express?

Elisa blushes fiercely. D'Arden's face becomes a mask of stone. "It is unthinkable for a Master to covet any such feelings toward an apprentice. The bond must be that of a teacher and student, and nothing more. Elisa is a strong girl with much potential. She is my student, my ward – and to a certain extent, my child; for she is utterly my responsibility, in a way that can barely be fathomed."

After a moment, Elisa speaks in a quiet voice. "He saved my life, offered me a second chance – a chance to be something more. The whole world is different now. I'd be lost without him, but he is my teacher. That's all."

MTG: D'Arden, what do you expect the response will be when you and Elisa arrive at the Arbiter's Tower?

D'Arden's mask-like expression does not change, but a glimmer of despair can be seen in his glittering gaze. He speaks slowly, choosing his words very carefully. "To my knowledge, nothing like this has ever happened before. The use of a heartblade on anyone other than a trained Arbiter is… unprecedented. I hope that the Council of Masters will be… understanding."

MTG: Do you believe the Arbiters will ever be able to completely cleanse your world of corruption?

The Arbiter lifts his head, and his confidence returns. His harsh voice returns to the comfortable recitation of a rote answer.  "Corruption lives in the hearts of evil men. It is personified by the dark gods, and their slaves. As long as there is greed and violence among men, as long as the weak are willing to sell their own existence into slavery for a taste of power, corruption will never truly die. The battle to protect the sanctity of the manna is eternal; and so are the Arbiters."

MTG: Elisa, do you fear ever having to face the same dilemma with D'Arden that he faced with Khaine?

The blond-haired girl looks at D'Arden, and then back down at the ground. "Khaine offered him everything, down in those catacombs. He refused to give in, refused to be seduced away from purity, even in the face of such tremendous power. If that doesn't say everything that needs to be said about his character, I don't know what would."

There is a fierce pride in the Arbiter's expression as he gazes at his apprentice, but there is also a hint of sadness – and, if one looks very closely, a glimmer of fear.

MTG: Does the name Christopher Kellen mean anything to you?

Both Elisa and D'Arden immediately lock their eyes on the interviewer. "Yes," they say in unison.

MTG: If you could say something to Mr. Kellen, what would it be?

Before D'Arden can say anything, Elisa speaks up. "Just… tell the story the right way, okay? Try not to imply things that aren't there. Oh – and find a new synonym for 'blue', would you? We're all sick of 'azure', already."

Well, that concludes my interview with D'Arden Tal and Elisa. I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed having these two great characters stop by my blog. Again, I believe Mr. Kellen has a similar interview (only with a few of my wayward characters) over at his blog, christopherkellen.com. I also hear he'll have a few hard copies of his books at the San Jose Fantasy Festival, and like me, he doesn't charge any extra for his signature.

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