Want to meet an Alasian?
With my second novel, In the Enemy’s Service, (hopefully) coming out this spring, I decided to create a series of “interviews” to introduce friends and fans to some of the main characters. Thanks to Tina Morgan at Fictionfactor.com, I discovered the idea of creating imaginary interviews with characters to help develop their personalities. Not all of her questions really apply to some of the characters I plan to interview, but I’m choosing to stick with them anyway. It helps me look deeper inside my characters as I consider how they would answer the odd questions. Never mind whether or not they would actually sit down and have a conversation like this with a stranger – if they did, this is what they would say!
I stop at the table in the palace dining hall where Anya has just finished her lunch. She looks up curiously as I take a seat on the bench across from her. “Hello. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
She drains the last of her glass of milk and shrugs. “No, but I might get in trouble if Lieutenant Talifus sees me just sitting here after I’m done eating. He’ll tell me to get back to work.”
“I’ve already cleared this with Captain Almanian,” I assure her. “Talifus will leave us alone.”
“All right.” She brushes a lock of brown hair out of her eyes. “What do you want to know?”
I glance down at my list of questions.
1. Do you like your job? Why or why not?
“Here at the palace?” She glances around thoughtfully at the half empty dining hall and the tired and wary workers finishing their lunch. “I guess so. I mean, I’d rather be back at school with my friends, but it’s fun helping Eleya and Tonnis in the clinic. I’m learning a lot about different herbs and how to use them to make medicines. And most people here have been pretty nice to me. But I’m scared of Lieutenant Talifus,” she admits. “He hates me. I’m afraid if he ever catches me doing something wrong, he’ll kill me.”
2. Do you have any friends? Significant others?
Anya frowns. “What are significant others?”
“Boyfriends,” I explain.
She blushes. “I’m only ten! I don’t think Father would let me have a boyfriend even if I wanted to.”
I shrug. “Maybe not, but aren’t there any boys you’re interested in?”
Anya hesitates, fiddles with her fork, not making eye contact. “Well, sort of. But I don’t actually know him. I’ve just heard about him. He sounds like someone I might like, though.”
“Yes?” I encourage her.
“Well, his name is Erik, and he’s Prince Jaymin’s bodyguard. He’s only twelve, like the prince, but people say he can fight better than most grown men. I just think he sounds really impressive. I’d like to meet him.”
“What about friends?” I inquire. “Do you have many friends?”
Anya laughs. “Of course! I have dozens of friends. But most of them go to my school or live in my neighborhood, so I haven’t seen them in the last few weeks. We have lots of fun together, though; or we did. My favorite thing to do with them is make up stories and act them out for our families to watch.” She grins, remembering. “I always get to play the part of the tragic heroine. You know why?”
I shake my head. “Why?”
Anya glances around as if to make sure no one is listening and leans forward conspiratorially. “Because I know how to make myself cry whenever I want. You want to see?”
I chuckle and glance around as well. “Maybe not right now. People might notice and wonder what’s wrong.”
3. What is your idea of success?
Anya considers this. “Finding out something important from Captain Almanian or Regent Rampus, like information I can pass on to the people helping Prince Jaymin. I’d love to be a real heroine and help him return and defeat his enemies.”
4. What do you hate?
“Traitors, like Lieutenant Talifus and Phenniel.” She scowls. “The king and queen are dead because of them.”
5. What do you do in your spare time?
Anya brightens. “I sew! I love sewing. I made the dress I’m wearing; see?” She stands up and pushes the bench back so she can turn in a circle, arms outstretched. I see that her dress is faded and stained near the collar with what looks like blood, but is of a stylish cut and well made.
6. What did you have for breakfast?
“Bread with jam, and scrambled eggs and sausage.” Anya plops back onto the bench again. “The food here is pretty good, but it’s always cold by the time we Alasians get any. We’re not allowed to eat our meals until after the soldiers have finished.”
7. Did you ever have a pet? Describe it.
Anya nods. “We have two horses back at home. My father’s a merchant, you know, and they pull his cart when he takes goods to and from Malorn to sell. It’s fun to ride them.”
8. Do you believe in luck? Why?
“Luck?” Anya frowns, considering. “I don’t think so. I think bad or good things happen because of choices people make. I guess you could call it unlucky for us that the Malornians invaded Alasia, but they made that choice.”
9. What is your favorite scent? Why?
This seems to stump her. “I don’t know. I don’t really care much about how things smell. I’m not really interested in flowers and perfume like some girls.”
10. What is the strangest thing you have ever seen?
“That’s easy.” Anya’s face lights up with excitement. “A blank wall that turned out to have a hidden door that opens on a secret passageway. I can’t tell you where it leads, though. I promised I’d never tell.”
11. What is the most frightening thing that has ever happened to you?
Anya’s expression turns sober. “It was when Lieutenant Talifus dragged me out of my neighbor’s house and forced me to come work here in the palace. I didn’t know where he was taking me at first, or what was going to happen to me. I thought I might be killed.” She stares down at her plate again. “I guess I still might. And I don’t know for sure if I’ll ever see my friends or family again,” she confides in a low voice. “But that’s one reason I’m trying to find out everything I can from the Malornians. If I can help Prince Jaymin defeat them, we’ll all be safe again.”