“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, “His companions have thought of Captain Johnny Crow or called him thus:
To his biggest feathered fan, he’s ‘the cleverest captain ever’. To his cabin boy, ‘a cryptic creature who cavorted with seal maidens, seirenes, and sea-blue witches’. To the woman whose heart he’s held close as a second skin, ‘a terrible man’. And were you to ask him, he’d probably say it only gets worse and truer from there.
“Welcome, Captain Crow!” Will greets the gentleman now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – where did you get that daring coat?”
“Daring?” There’s an ironic tilt to the smile on Crow’s face, shapely and smooth in spite of years at the mercy of the sea and its weather. “There’s not much daring about wearing a lady’s dresscoat in the privacy of one’s own ship. Were I to go like this ashore in half the northern countries – hair unbound and hatless, women’s outerwear on brazen display, my face… well, my face being my face – Dis only knows what patriarchal fate the local menfolk would think to set upon me.”
Will presses a palm to his own chest. “I’m local menfolk.”
“Which is why,” says Crow, crossing one leg over the other and tossing his head back to stare at the ceiling, “I had conflicting thoughts about showing up for this interview. But I can be daring, when the mood gets into me. And in any case, Scarlet, you’d have walked in wearing this coat’s very twin, if matching fashion statements were the done thing. It’s mostly red, after all. As for where I got mine? Nowhere special. Some shop in some town. Stupidly expensive, but it is and isn’t your own money you’re spending, when you’ve found it in the hold of a pirated ship.”
Will sits forward, chin propped on hands and eyes a-dazzle. “You talk like you’ve lived all kinds of adventures.”
“I’ve had my share,” Crow acknowledges. “Hard to help it, when you choose the sea life – or the sea life chooses you. Put yourself in the Sea Queen’s hands, and you’ll likely find it a tempestuous hold.”
“For the benefit of we landlubber types, just who is the Sea Queen, and what are your personal views on Her Majesty?”
“How was it Molly thought of it?” Crow mused, his smile returning warmer than before. “ ‘The reputedly mighty Dis,’ her mind put it; ‘the heart and the ruler of all the world’s oceans.’ That’s what just about any sailor I’ve met would call her, and I’d add nothing to contradict it. She’s my goddess; my boss sitting sovereign in her underwater office, I suppose I halfway think of her. I give her what percentages she’s due and address all my prayers and petitions to her desk. It’s partway just a seafarer’s religion to take for granted, but that could make it sound like she doesn’t really matter to me, and she does. I love her like I did my own mother, rest her soul. My heart calls her a friend, even if I don’t expect the sea calls anyone friend or foe. It’s just a world to hold in balance, for her. Nature isn’t fair, but has no favorites.”
“If Dis were to pick a favorite from among your crew, who would it be?”
A startled laugh from Crow. “I haven’t the first idea how to guess. We’ve all of us chosen her, in our own ways, which is enough to bless or damn us. In her place, I might pick Murdoch, on account of her being an arguably purer part of the sea than others. On the other hand, it’s Anafrid who takes the care to make sure Dis gets all her proper offerings when it might have slipped anyone else’s mind.” He grimaces. “I’d like to think she wouldn’t pick me simply because I’m so pretty, but that’s been the sort of luck I was born to, so why call it impossible? The surest answer, though, would have to be Miss Molly Worth.”
“And why’s that?”
Another smile, just shy of a laugh. “She’s the novel’s protagonist. You want blessing and damning in heavy measure, that’s the position to get.”
“Allyn-a-Dale would agree with you hard. But never-minding favorites, you’ve got one more choice to make: Tell me, Captain, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” Scarlet sits up hopefully. “Or would you rather kiss me?”
A look of alarm flashes through Crow’s eyes before he pulls his smile back in place. “If you want hilarious, we can talk about Danielle’s struggle to come up with a name for my ship. You see, in the midst of her brainstorming phase, she made the mistake of asking her family for suggestions over dinner. Told them what she had in mind at the moment was something like the [Verb or Adjective] Rook. And somehow her family’s helpfulness degraded into simply proposing the same name over and over. A lot of, ‘How about the Raging Rook?’ ‘Maybe… the Raging Rook?’ ‘Wait, wait, I’ve got it: The Raging Rook.’”
Will Scarlet guffaws. “Small wonder she cut her nets on that side of the boat and went with the Painted Lady instead. Say, Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”
“The Raging Rook. I jest,” Allyn says sedately, while Will hits the floor. “Today’s Kiss & Tell segment is brought to you by ‘Deathsong of the Deep’ by Danielle E. Shipley – coming Valentine’s Day, aka February 14th. (E-book editions available for pre-order here and here.)
Nineteen-year-old tavern girl Molly Worth needs a way out of the lackluster future she’s sure awaits in her small portside town. A miraculous living ship needs an ally willing to steal her away from what she’s sure will be her doom. It seems like a match ordained by the mystical Sea Queen herself, but the darkest power below has other plans for those who brave the deep.
Taken under the wing of a creature of myth, and absorbed into the uncommon crew commanded by one rakish Captain Crow, Molly begins to make her way toward the life she wants for herself, only to lose it all in an epic venture gone wrong. Now to regain what the monstrous Kraken destroyed requires that she weigh life against life, and life against death with the unnatural creature who sings to her soul.
From the author of fairytale saga “The Wilderhark Tales”, the “Outlaws of Avalon” legend, and “Inspired” love letters to the heart of creation, comes a high-seas fantasy of faith and doubt; of honor and love; and of tentacles.
“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you, too, Captain Crow! 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!”