“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”
The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.
“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”
Allyn looks at his notes, then performs a double take. “It’s… me.”
“Oh, yes? How’s our author describe you?”
He’s really something different, that Allyn-a-Dale, but I do believe that under that pathetically earnest exterior, there’s actually some real spirit, and maybe even a modicum of fun.
“Apt,” Will assesses.
Allyn regards him pointedly. “The quote’s from you.”
“And I totally called it. Welcome, Allyn-a-Dale!” Will greets as Allyn grimly picks up his hat and lute and relocates to the chair across from Will’s own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – how excited are you that your first novel is finally out?!”
“Somewhat, I suppose,” says the minstrel, curved over his instrument. “That is, I gather that it’s a big deal. I’m certainly quite pleased for Danielle. She has long awaited this release.”
“Well, yeah, but we can listen to her talk about her writerly feelings anytime. This is about you.”
Allyn grimaces. “I never asked for that.”
“Not big on the whole ‘main character’ thing, huh?”
A vigorous shake of the head sets the plume on his hat wagging. “Not by half. That was Father’s business. And I was entirely content to trail in his shadow throughout the concluding Wilderhark Tale*.” He droops. “I’d have gladly carried on like that indefinitely, if he hadn’t died.”
*(Author’s note: “The Story’s End”, currently just 99 cents for Kindle, just like every other Wilderhark Tale! Grab ’em all!)
“But he did,” says Will, not ungently. “Meaning it’s your turn in the spotlight. What did you do when Danielle looked you up with a story proposal, once upon NaNoWriMo 2010?”
Allyn shrugs a shoulder. “I let her find me. I made a start of finding myself with her. The first half of Chapter One was a difficult beginning, but I realized I couldn’t droop along dejectedly forever. A protagonist must be proactive. If I was to be made a main character against my will, I determined that I must strive to be a good one.”
“A brave move, Allyn-a-Dale. And oh, speaking of your will…” Will flashes an expectant grin. “What were your thoughts upon first meeting me? And, y’know, the other Merry Men, but mostly me?”
Allyn’s eyes roll over his smile. “I thought you all more or less peculiar, with you the strangest of all. And I stand by that early impression. Even so, you were on the whole a warm and welcoming group. It was only a matter of time before I began to feel I belonged to you.”
“As you should,” Will approves. “Now, you call yourself a minstrel. What does that mean to you?”
“Why, everything!” says Allyn, straightening at last. “We bards are the voice of music. Father practically had it down to a religion, with him the self-appointed high priest. He left his own lute to my care in good faith, and I endeavor to honor that with my whole heart.”
“So riddle me this,” says Will. “If you could only be one – a strong protagonist, a Merry Man, or a minstrel – which would you choose to be?”
Allyn’s fair face pales further. “That is a choice most cruel. I should need all the strength I could muster to survive the doom you set before me. But if I could have but one, I would dutifully choose minstrelsy, and sing forever a lonesome lament of the friends left behind in Sherwood.”
Will heaves a sigh. “Yeah, that sounds like the Allyn I know. Let’s lighten things up with one last question. Tell me, what is our author Danielle E. Shipley’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He winks in slow-mo. “Or would you rather kiss me?”
Allyn regards him, his fingers slowly taking up a tune on his lute. “Do you know,” he says impassively, “how close our author came to leaving you out of the book?”
Will stiffens. “Say what?”
“In the brainstorming stage. She was at first undecided whether to round out the band with a Will Scarlet or a Much the Miller’s Son. ‘Twas no more than the luck of a coin-flip, her settling on you in the end.”
“Dear God!” Will cries. “It wouldn’t be the same story at all without me! A literary apocalypse, that’s what we’d be looking at! I think I’m blacking out…”
“Breathe, Will,” says Allyn, rising to deliver the word from our sponsor. “Today’s Kiss & Tell segment – and a number of enticing prizes for those who care to try for them – was brought to you by the Launch Week+ celebration of ‘The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale’ (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book One) by Danielle E. Shipley – available now!
Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.
Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.
“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says, more or less recovered. “And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”