“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?”
As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Our author once described him thus:
As co-CEO of Avalon Faire for the entirety of its existence (and official wizard of Camelot for some centuries before that), the man has a lot on his plate. With a job description that includes juggling the individual and mutual interests of the resident Fey and human folk, maintaining both necessary relations with the Outside and the top-secret magical nature of the Faire, and continually butting heads with an incorrigible Will Scarlet, if Merlin comes across as a little tightly-wound, it’s because he’s earned the privilege.
“Welcome, Merlin!” Will greets the man now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – how in the world did I talk you into this, and will I be able to work such a miracle again in the pursuit of future favors?”
Merlin’s lips purse within the frame of his iconic silver-gray beard. “In no way am I doing this as a favor to you, Mr. Scarlet. This is about the promotion of our author’s latest work featuring our world. I’m not so overbooked that I can’t contribute to the Faire’s marketing efforts. And if that means sitting down for another episode of your nonsense… well, here I am.”
“Sporting of you. So, what can you tell us about your role in Outlaws of Avalon, Book 1.5?”
“Essentially,” Merlin says dryly, “I’ve been cast as Scrooge.”
Will half-conceals a grin. “Apt.”
“Well, it’s a parody of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. Someone had to play the lead, and of Avalon’s residents, I suppose I made the most logical choice. As for the rest of the story’s logic, it’s everything bizarre about Book 1, wrapped up in a dream sequence.”
“In other words, ‘Logic for what?’”
“Pretty much,” Merlin confirms. “Beyond the extensive silliness, however, there are elements of actual consequence to the Outlaws of Avalon’s overarching plotline. Heavy themes served up with humor; such is our author’s favored approach.”
“Talking of faves,” Will segues, “which bit of the book do you like best?”
“Hmm.” Merlin strokes his beard in thought. “Possibly Allyn’s song number in the third chapter. A melancholy little thing, but that’s just Allyn-a-Dale all over.”
“And, what, you like him best of all your immortal heroes?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” says Merlin. “That would be Arthur. Danielle may have written the series for the Merry Men’s sake, but as far as I’m concerned, my king is the sole reason Avalon Faire exists.”
“So, if Arthur didn’t need you to manage him, what do you suppose you’d do with your life?”
Merlin startles. “I… haven’t considered anything like that question in a very long time.” Blue eyes take on a shade of bemusement. “I really don’t know. Maybe get a degree in something? Learn to teach? Seems just the sort of thankless job I’m made for.”
“I’m sure Hogwarts would hire you in a heartbeat. And speaking of matters of the heart, tell me: What is our author Danielle E. Shipley’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” Will pulls up a dreamy smile. “Or would you rather kiss me?”
Merlin grunts. “The only things I keep better than secrets are my lips to myself when it comes to the likes of you. You’ve had your interview, Scarlet. Don’t think you can blackmail me into more.”
“It’s not blackmail, it’s the rules!”
“And you think you’re the only one in the Faire with a talent for rule-breaking?” The wizard stands with a smirk-like scowl. “I bent nature’s laws before your birth, boy. Remember who you’re talking to.”
“Right now,” says Will, giving up, “I’m talking to Allyn. Hey, minstrel! What’s the word from our sponsor?”
“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “is brought to you by ‘An Avalon Christmas Carol (An Outlaws of Avalon Novella)’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now!
Merlin was asleep, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that…
And yet, when you’re a wizard with a legendary gift of prophecy, who can tell whether a dream may be something more?
In the tradition of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic, join Camelot’s court and Sherwood’s outlaws on a spirited journey through Avalon’s past, present, and future.
“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says. “Thanks to you, too, Merlin! 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!”