Prince of Malorn is an action/adventure fantasy novel geared toward young adults.  In it, one major obstacle stands between seventeen-year-old Prince Korram and the throne that is his birthright: Regent Rampus.  Temporary ruler of Malorn, Rampus has no intention of giving up his position when the crown prince comes of age – or of allowing the prince to live long enough to reach that age. 

Desperate to build an army of his own to stand against the regent, Korram treks into the Impassable Mountains to try to recruit the one segment of Malornian society not under Rampus’s control.  But can he lead a band of untrained hunters and gatherers to victory against the full might of the Malornian military?  Or will they all be crushed by the grasping hand of the regent before the prince can claim his rightful throne?

Following is a brief scene from the perspective of a villain in the novel.  Scroll to the bottom to see how to purchase your copy of Prince of Malorn!
Dannel reined his horse up before the last building on the street, a one-story brick structure with peeling paint and a sagging roof, typical for this part of town. Torches flickered invitingly on either side of the closed door, fainter torchlight leaking through the cracks in the window shutters along with strains of off-key singing. A hanging sign cut in the shape of a wide cup announced the tavern’s name: The Rusty Flagon.

A man smoking a pipe was leaning against the wall in such a position as to have easy access to the weapon obviously hidden under his cloak. He eyed Dannel silently, and Dannel gave him a courteous nod as he dismounted.

At this early hour, the hitching bar out front was only half full, so there was plenty of space for Dannel to tie up his horse. He took his time strolling up to the door, staring into the torchlight all the while so his eyes would adjust and he wouldn’t have to walk in squinting.

When he was ready, Dannel turned the handle and pulled the door open, the sound of raucous singing flowing out into the night air as he did so. The Rusty Flagon was a nondescript establishment, notable neither for its appearance and cleanliness, nor for the quality of its food and drink. But there were plenty of little tables in dim corners barely touched by the light from the torches up front, where customers could carry on secretive conversations or finalize shady business dealings under cover of the music. The bartender, Dannel was nearly sure, hired people to belt out drinking songs over and over to cover the sound of any conversation guests might wish to keep private. The watchers outside, including the one Dannel had seen and others he knew must be lurking nearby, were always quick to give warning if authorities were ever spotted approaching. The proprietor never asked any questions of his guests or tried to engage them in casual conversation. As long as they paid for their drinks and left a tip to cover the cost of any damage, he didn’t bat an eyelash over the occasional unexpected mess or business deal gone violently wrong. Dannel knew; his own blood had contributed to the stains on the floor in one of the back corners many years ago.

The bartender, his strength and agility belied by the belly that hung over an apron as stained as the floor, was making his rounds of the tables with a pitcher of beer in one hand and ale in the other for refills. Dannel caught his eye, and the man hurried over to join him.

“That fellow at the table there by the left wall,” Dannel began, pointing with his eyes. “Was he here last night too?” It was too dim to see a face clearly from across the room, but Dannel recognized the profile. The bartender would have seen him when he first entered and again when he ordered a drink.

“Oh, I don’t pay no attention to who’s here when,” the man was quick to assure him. “Folk can come and go from the Flagon whenever they want, and it’s none o’ my business. Besides, I got a real bad memory for faces.”

Dannel fished a silver coin from his pocket. “Try hard to remember.”

The man glanced at the coin, peered in the indicated direction, and frowned as though in thought. “You know, it’s coming back to me now. He was here last night, and the night before as well. Sat alone at that same table for a couple of hours before he finally left, and he looked kinda worried if you ask me.”

Good. Smiling, Dannel pulled out a second coin and handed them both to the man. “Bring me a pint of ale, and keep the change.” He wove his way around the tables toward the left side of the room, his shoes sticking slightly with each step.
Click here to read an interview with Dannel.
Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published seven books (three YA action adventure/fantasy novels, one puppet script, and three anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

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This is the final interview I’ve done with characters from my second novel, In the Enemy’s Service, due out two weeks from tomorrow.  Take a look at the first one, the interview with Anya, to read why I’ve been interviewing people from my world and where I got the idea in the first place.

I’ve chosen a table in a dimly-lit corner of the tavern, from which I can keep an eye on the door.  Dannel sent word that he would meet me here, and I arrived early to pick out a spot where no one would overhear us.  But I’m surprised when he materializes noiselessly out of the shadows nearby.  I’ve been watching the door for the last ten minutes and didn’t see him come in. 
“You’re in my seat.”  He stands over me, smiling.  “Please move.”  Though his words are polite, something about the way he says them makes me shiver.  I quickly get up and take the chair on the opposite side of the table.

“So.  You wanted to talk to me?”

“Um, yes.”  I glance quickly down at the paper I’ve brought.  “I have a few questions, if you don’t mind.”

“By all means.”  He gestures expansively.  “I’ll be glad to give you whatever information you require.  That is, after all, my business.  But I’m sure you understand that I don’t work for free.”

I expected this, and have come prepared.  I place a silver coin on the table between us.  He raises an eyebrow at it doubtfully and then casts me a glance as though to say, Is that all my information is worth to you?  But he shrugs and pockets the coin without a word.

1. Do you like your job?  Why or why not?

Dannel chuckles.  “I love my job!  There’s nothing like the thrill of successful deception.  Of course, that’s only a small part of what I do.  I’m in the intelligence business, and deception is just one of the means I employ.  It’s quite fulfilling, negotiating for the best possible price and then delivering critical information, usually to desperate people.  But I offer other services too.  If you ever need anyone taken out of the way, for example, I’m sure we could work something out.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” I assure him.  “Next question.”

Dannel affects a look of surprise.  “You have more than one question?  You’ve only paid me for one answer.”

I sigh and take out a couple more coins, which he accepts with a courteous nod of thanks.

2. Do you have any friends?  Significant others?

“Of course not.  That would require trust, and I would never make the mistake of trusting anyone.”  Dannel glances around the tavern, his wary gaze confirming his words.

3. What is your idea of success?

“Infiltrating a target group, finding out exactly what I need to know while making them think they’re the ones I’m helping out, and convincing them to pay me for whatever I tell them I’m doing for them.  Then simply disappearing afterward; and – depending on the mission – they might never see me again before they feel my dagger between their shoulder blades.  And then returning to my grateful employer and getting paid even more to deliver the information I’ve learned, all the while planning the best time to sell him out to his enemies.”

I shudder, resolving to have nothing more to do with Dannel as soon as this interview is over.

4. What do you hate?

He doesn’t seem to have heard me, his eyes darting back and forth among the other patrons of the tavern.  I resist the urge to glance behind me to see who he’s watching.  Finally I realize why he hasn’t answered.  Counting the questions remaining on my sheet, I reach into my pocket and hand him eight more coins.  He counts them silently before sliding them into his own pocket.

“Stingy employers.”

5. What do you do in your spare time?

“Plan out the next job.  Design disguises.  Keep an eye on people and situations to see how I could use them for profit.”

“Surely you have some hobbies not related to work,” I press.

Dannel laughs.  “You’d never believe me if I told you, so let’s just leave it at that.”

6. What did you have for breakfast?

“Today?  Venison and fried potatoes at the Alasian army camp.  They’ve been on short rations since the Invasion, so there wasn’t much of it.  I bought some bread and fruit as soon as I got into Almar.”

7. Did you ever have a pet?  Describe it.

“No.  Pets mean attachment.”

8. Do you believe in luck? Why?

“Of course I do.  I make luck.  The ingredients are careful preparation and quick thinking.”

9. What is your favorite scent? Why?

He considers this for a moment.  “Skin paint.”

“Skin paint?” I echo. 

“It’s a handy mixture I designed,” Dannel explains.  “I use it to give myself scars or a tan or other features I need for disguises.  If I change the proportions a little, it works as hair dye too.”  He smiles.  “The scent of skin paint is the scent of danger, of excitement, of the thrill of a new mission and profit on the horizon.”

10. What is the strangest thing you have ever seen?


11. What is the most frightening thing that has ever happened to you?

Dannel’s eyes grow distant.  “It was a long time ago, back near the beginning of my career.  I was working for a group of seafaring raiders; you know, the ones who attack coastal towns in those fast little ships, steal what they can, and then disappear among the rocky offshore islands.  They were paying me to help identify the best targets.  Long story short, the Alasian navy finally caught up with them, and there was a battle off the northwest coast.  I was on one of the raiders’ ships at the time; they were outnumbered, and we got boarded.  We all jumped overboard and tried to swim for shore, but most of us were caught and hauled on board one of the navy vessels.  It was winter, and I was wet and freezing and terrified I’d get killed or stuffed in a prison along with the raiders.  I was very young back then,” Dannel explains apologetically.  “But I managed to work it out in my favor.  I talked the captain into a deal, and ended up trading the location of their base for my freedom, a set of dry clothes, and ten gold coins.”  He sighs, remembering.  “I still regret not demanding twenty.”

I glance down at my list to double-check that that was the last question.  “Well, thank you, Dannel.  This has been most informative.  I appreciate –”  Wait.  I peer around, my eyes searching the shadows, but his chair is empty.  “Dannel?”  I twist in my own chair to examine the rest of the tavern, but of course there is no sign of him.  I feel my shoulder blades twitch nervously.  “Dannel?”

Click here to read my other character interviews.