Today I’m going to attempt an interview with one of my characters. I say “attempt” because he is somewhat unsociable (if not downright hostile) and may not appreciate my pestering him with questions.
Background: his name is Bithoa (prounounced bih-THOE-uh), he is a twenty-two year old outlaw, and at the time we meet him he lives in the Land of Darrotai (over the mountains from the Land of Starrellia). He’s from my 8-book fantasy series, The Chronicles of Starrellia, at the moment appearing in books 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 (but primarily 2: Out of the Unknown and 5: To Few the Road).
Without further ado, I bring you an attempted interview with Bithoa.
I am standing in a sunshine-filled forest glade, surrounded by leafy green trees. Before me stands . . . a rather brown figure. A tall young man, dressed in brown leather, with a brown leather vest instead of a shirt, laced up with brown leather laces in the front. His arms are bare and tanned, with more than a couple scars visible on them, and he is holding a transparent double-ended spear made of crystal. His hair is reddish-brown and shaggy, with some of it hanging down partway over one of his deep green eyes, which are staring at me rather dauntingly with mistrust in them. In his face is a wary look and he always seems to be watching out of the corner of his eye, like a hunted animal for the hunters. His eyebrows are drawn together in a frown and his mouth is a thin line as I explain to him that I would like to ask him some questions, as an introduction to some people I know. (I figure a blog might be difficult for him to grasp, since blogs are not exactly medieval . . .)
“Won’t you have a seat?” I ask him, pointing to a stump next to him.
He glances at it but makes no move to sit there, remaining where he stands. I start to sit on the stump opposite, but think better of it. I’m already a whole foot shorter than him, being only 5′ 2” myself, and decide I should not go shorter.
“Tell us about yourself, Bithoa.”
He starts to walk away. “Not interested. Why don’t you annoy David instead? I’m sure he’d love to be interviewed.”
“Get back here! Please,” I add.
He sighs and turns back to me. “Look — I’m sure no one wants to hear about me except my enemies, of which I have far too many already. If you’re so keen on these people learning about me, why don’t you tell them yourself?”
“I want it straight from your mouth. Just . . . tell about your situation. Your life. Anything.”
His eyes harden. “Allow me to say this very clearly: No.”
“Well then I’ll have to go find Calendula and make her ask you nicely. Then you’ll have to,” I threaten.
“What makes you think—?” He breaks off. Rolling his eyes in an expression of “whatever, better get this over with”, he says, “Fine.” Sitting down on the stump, he plunges the spear into the ground next to him, folds his arms, and begins. “Here in this land — which is entirely surrounded by mountains, marsh and desert, and thus inescapable — I’ve been an outlaw for the last ten years. The problem being that there are four different places — Wevion, two kingdoms in Darrotai, and the domain of the Lawdefs, the Law Defiers — and I’m an outlaw in all four.”
I whistle. “An outlaw four times over.”
He glares at me. “Yes. You know that.”
“I . . . was being dramatic,” I say sheepishly.
He looks like he wants to hit me but goes on. “So I’m hunted everywhere I go, with no escape, and now to top it all I’ve got two princes tagging along with me, bringing more danger with them. In short, life is not good right now. And I don’t see it getting any better,” he says with an accusatory glance at me. I cough awkwardly. “Is that enough?” he asks.
“No. Go on.”
He huffs. “Like what?”
“Well . . . how about some more details of your life? Like . . . your past and lineage and what you love and your greatest fears? Would you like to share some of that with us?” I should have known better, knowing what I know about those things. Warning signals go off in my head as his green eyes suddenly blaze with unconcealed anger.
“Oh yes,” he says through his teeth, “I have something I’d really like to share with you.” He stands up, his fingers closing over the shaft of the spear stuck in the ground beside him.
Before I can say or do anything, another voice calls somewhat frantically, “Bithoa!” A boy of sixteen runs up, with light brown hair, dressed in clothes that look like they were once very fine but now look a little the worse for wear, a dark blue cloak billowing behind him as he comes to a halt. A crossbow is slung at his shoulder and he has a long knife on his belt.
“Hi, David!” I smile and a wave at the sixteen-year-old main character of Out of the Unknown.
“What is it now?” Bithoa says to David, clearly annoyed.
“Don’t do anything . . .” David starts, with a glance at me.
“Anything? I wasn’t. I was about to do something,” Bithoa interrupts. “And if you don’t leave me alone, I’ll start with you.”
David sighs unhappily. “Why do you have to be so hostile?”
“Me? Hostile?” Bithoa laughs, sarcastic and devoid of humor.
“You can’t hurt David, Bithoa,” I say. “Killing the main character is not allowed. And it’s even more not allowed to kill the author. So why don’t you just sit down again, please?”
“Maybe . . .” David begins.
Bithoa looks at him sharply. “Maybe what? Oh, I know: maybe she should interview you instead.”
“Well, I . . .” David says uncertainly.
Bithoa tugs his double-ended spear from the ground. “I’m off. I’m sure there’s some hunting to be done, or a stick to be whittled, or Donavin to get in a fight with, or some guards to find and have chase me. In short, something more enjoyable than being interviewed.” Though I know he doesn’t enjoy any of those things — except maybe getting in a fight with Donavin. He walks off, while David and I watch helplessly.
“He can be kinda difficult,” David says.
“I heard that,” Bithoa calls back before disappearing among the trees.
David looks at me and shrugs. He sits down on the stump. “Did you have some questions for me? I’d be happy to answer them.”
“Well, at least you’re polite and willing to comply . . .” I think about it, deciding I should try to salvage this interview by getting *someone* to answer some questions. I shrug. “Tell us . . . well, about you.”
David frowns thoughtfully. “Um . . . I’m a prince from Arothin in Darrotai. My older brother Donavin is in line for the throne but . . . there were problems. And now we’re on the run. With Bithoa.”
“What are some things you love or hate or fear?”
“Well, I love my brother if it comes to that. And apples.” He grins. “Hate?” His grin turns to a frown and he shuffles his feet uncomfortably. “Hate is kind of a strong word. I suppose I hate my uncle and cousin. They killed my father the king, blamed my brother for it, and took over, and now they’ve got all the soldiers out tracking us down. Besides which my cousin Kiya always used to beat me up whenever Donavin wasn’t there to beat him up back for me . . . So I guess I fear him. And I fear for Donavin — he’s, well, a bit reckless and hotheaded, and sometimes I’m afraid he’ll just get himself killed one of these days because of it. Especially the way he and Bithoa rub each other the wrong way . . .” David glances all about and murmurs, “I fear Bithoa sometimes too. He . . . kind of scares me. And there are times when I just want him to leave. Or to throw him in the river . . .”
“I heard that, too,” Bithoa calls.
David jumps. He clears his throat and squirms on the stump, his eyes appealing to me. “Um . . . could we talk about something else, please?”
The voice of David’s brother Donavin calls from somewhere on the other side of the glade. “You should leave poor David alone and interview me instead. I am the crown prince after all.”
“Oh yes,” Bithoa’s voice says derisively. “Heir to a throne that’s been stolen, and here you are, a fugitive, running from the guards who should be serving you. A lot of good your royalness is doing you.”
“Shut your mouth, outlaw!”
“Don’t call me that,” Bithoa growls.
“Oh, and what shall I call you then?”
“You needn’t call me anything, princeling.”
“Princeling!” Donavin exclaims in rage. I can practically hear him fuming. David and I look at each other, wincing. A few more heated words are exchanged between Donavin and Bithoa before sounds of a scuffle break out.
David sighs and hauls himself off the stump to his feet. “I’d probably better go see to that . . .”
And there you have it. It was not supposed to get that long, or that sidetracked. And I guess I introduced more than one character. But it is so hard to get some of my less sociable charries pinned down long enough for an interview . . . Hope you enjoyed! I definitely had a fantastic time writing it.
Do you have any questions to ask them?