“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 says, “The blurb for the novel ‘So Super Dead’ – the release of which is, not coincidentally, today – describes her thus:
Sure, seventeen-year-old Brenna hadn’t thought much of her life, but she’s not about to take her murder lying down. With one death to live and nothing left to lose, Brenna’s out for vengeance. Trouble is, her murderer’s already dead.
“Wait a minute,” says Will, looking around. “While you read the introduction is when the narration’s all, ‘As the guest enters from the other side of the stage’, right? So…” He gestures to the empty chair across from him. “…Where’s the guest?”
“Oh, sorry!” calls a voice from the back of the house – the voice of a different ‘So Super Dead’ protagonist altogether. “I forgot. Brenna is there. You just can’t see or hear her. Because she’s a ghost.” After a moment’s attention focused toward the guest chair, the speaker relates, “And she’s peeved about that.”
“Peeved about which part?” Will asks. “Being here, being undetectable, or being a ghost?”
“All of the above.”
“Hmm. Well, that complicates matters more than usual, but hang all, it’s ‘So Super Dead’s release day, so we’re making this episode work! Allyn, rustle up another armchair! You in the back, come on down! And everyone, give it up for Nicky, aka Xtra-Medium!”
As the impromptu second guest heads for the stage, Allyn quotes from memory while rearranging furniture:
Agender mutant teen Nicky finally has himmer’s superpower, and s/he’s ready to save the world. …Or, y’know, talk to dead people, since that’s really all s/he can do. But now, caught between a responsibility to Brenna, a debt to a closeted monster, and the inevitability of a super-villainous terrorist attack, Nicky’s scrambling for the right words to bring two lifeless friends peace and prove himmerself a hero. Because if s/he doesn’t, the world’s dead will number far more than one ghost-whisperer can handle.
“Welcome, Nicky!” Will greets the guest he can see. “And Brenna, if Nicky says you’re here. So glad you both could join me. First things first – if you knew no one would be able to properly interact with you, Brenna, why did you even bother to come here today?”
Nicky glances Brenna’s way, then back to Will. “She says, ‘Nicky’s not technically no one.’ Hey, thanks! …Sort of. And she’d assumed that you would be able to interact with her, since that three-part character Q&A we did, a while back, went without a hiccup. But I guess your talk show follows its own logic?”
“All my special blog features do,” Will says complacently. “And calling it ‘logic’s being generous. Now, Brenna, I know you canonically don’t like much of anything, but if you had to pick a favorite aspect of your newly released book, what would it be?”
“Quote, ‘I like when Thackeray Kyle suffers,’ ” says Nicky, grimacing. “ ‘And the villain, while hideous on the inside, has some irrefutably hot outsides. And I guess I’m Team Luminatrix; she’s mostly legit, compared to the screwball crowd she runs with.’ ”
“What about you, Nicky?” Will asks, his inclusive and encouraging grin getting a return smile out of the ghost interpreter. “Favorite book thing?”
“Well, not to be braggy, but I do like the narrative voice I bring to the story. Fun and informal, but it can go deep, y’know? And, I mean, I get Brenna’s beef with Thackeray Kyle. He did her dirty, no denying that. But, I dunno…” The mutant teen goes slightly squirmy and flushed. “I like it when he talks.
“…Brenna mutters, ‘You like it when anyone talks.’ She has a point. People talking to each other is good for a story, know what I mean? Lack of communication creates plot problems. And lack of dialogue… sure, there are books like that, but they’re not my kind. And on a not-story level – on a life level – you’ve gotta have somebody to talk to. To unburden yourself, or to help figure our what your self is and what it’s dealing with… That’s it, right there: Talking is dealing with stuff. And I’m so super here for that.”
“You’d be surprised how much talking I can do without dealing with jack-all,” Will says cheerfully. “But I like your zeal, kiddo. Now, for one last question before you two spirit yourselves away. Tell me, Brenna-through-Nicky, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” A so super big smile. “Or would you rather kiss me?”
“Brenna’s all, ‘You can kiss him if you want,’ ” says Nicky, imitating the ghost’s disdainfully flat manner of speech. “But I’m, uh, not really comfortable with the idea of kissing anybody, so… Gee, which of Danielle’s secrets are left to tell?”
Nicky mulls over the matter, before starting slowly, “This book became a lot more her, the longer we went between its first-drafting and today’s publication. When she conceived and wrote it in 2012, she was several months away from her first big dip into the depression that can still knock her down pretty far, a lot of the time. But even before poor mental health hit her personally, there we were: Brenna with what can be easily read as a clinical case; Thackeray with his violent repression of emotion; and characters like me who had to get up every day, wondering if there was a point to our existence – having to seize onto something to fight for. There’s plenty of times, in recent years, when she’s felt so super dead, or wished to be.” Nicky cracks a small smile at Will. “It’s good she’s got close friends like you to help talk her through, Sherwood hero.”
“You’d better shut up before I cry!” Will bawls, already ugly-crying. “Allyn, do something! A word from our sponsor!”
“We’ve already been over most of it,” says Allyn, “but for those who could use the reminder: Today’s Kiss & Tell segment is brought to you by ‘So Super Dead’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available today via Amazon (e-book and paperback) and Barnes & Noble (e-book only)!
The ghost: Sure, seventeen-year-old Brenna hadn’t thought much of her life, but she’s not about to take her murder lying down. With one death to live and nothing left to lose, Brenna’s out for vengeance. Trouble is, her murderer’s already dead.
The killer: The reality of TV star Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter, is not the kind one lives to tell about. He’ll do whatever it takes – and take out whomever he must – to keep his secret safe. If only he could get his dead conscience to quit haunting him…
The talker: Agender mutant teen Nicky finally has himmer’s superpower, and s/he’s ready to save the world. …Or, y’know, talk to dead people, since that’s really all s/he can do. But now, caught between a responsibility to Brenna, a debt to a closeted monster, and the inevitability of a super-villainous terrorist attack, Nicky’s scrambling for the right words to bring two lifeless friends peace and prove himmerself a hero. Because if s/he doesn’t, the world’s dead will number far more than one ghost-whisperer can handle.
“Thank you, Allyn,” Will sniffles. “Thanks to you, too, Nicky and Brenna. 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!”