Time May [Kiss &] Tell

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logo“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… Nothing.

“Will!” Allyn whisper-shouts. “That was your cue.”

“Wait, what?!” Will’s voice calls from who-knows-where. “The show’s live now?? But it’s Monday! Danielle never announced a blogging schedule switch!”

“As our band leader may have told you, Danielle has been rather busy turning her entire life upside-down,” Allyn points out. “The old schedule’s right out the window. I expect it’ll be like her days in Germany all over again – blog posts if and when she feels like it, no more predictable than that.”

“Fine, fine. Just lemme grab my other boot. Catch a fellow while he’s in the shower, why don’t you…”

Moments later, Will Scarlet himself hastens – smiling, waving, and briefly maneuvering on one foot – onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Sorry about that hiccup, coming out the gate. 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, “Wikipedia has made brief mention of her thus:

In many works outside the Lancelot-Grail inspired tradition[,] Gawain has sisters. They include […] Clarissant in Chrétien’s Cligés […] An important episode [in Perceval, the Story of the Grail] is Gawain’s liberation of a castle whose inhabitants include his long-lost mother and grandmother as well as his sister Clarissant, whose existence was unknown to him. This tale also breaks off unfinished.

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Clarissant aesthetic, found via Tumblr.

“Welcome, Clarissant!” Will greets the noblewoman now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – why have I actually never heard of you until halfway through the drafting of #CamelotWIP? Like, what the high hell, you don’t even show up in our author’s brainstorming notes!”

Clarissant’s mild blink is a peeved cousin of her celebrated brother’s. “To the first, I can only suppose that legend did not find me enough of a villainess to be of concentrated importance to Uncle Arthur’s narrative. Damsels are quested for and forgotten. Girl-siblings, unworthy of mention, unless they provide a nephew of note.” A semi-smile touches her lips. “Only the wicked and the witches leave their mark. Danielle might never have come across my name, were it not for some muse-born conviction that her Gawain had a sister, lost to time. Why she doesn’t seem to have bothered to plan my story arc on paper before working it into her novel, I cannot say. Perhaps she worked out enough of her plans verbally, with Tirzah, that she felt confident she had things sufficiently ordered in her head.”

“What is your arc in the novel? Or, at any rate, what can you tell us of it without mega-spoilers?”

“My part in the tale begins where the first Camelot ends,” says she, tidying any runaway wisps in her thick brown braid. “Its civil war finished and the Round Table decimated, I’m placed in the sideline role oft allotted to women: Alive and alone, left to pick up the pieces. I could have chosen to remain where I was. Instead, I looked to the Fey and seized upon a quest for the future Camelot.”

“Audacity!” Will approves.

“Desperation,” Clarissant corrects. “When you feel you’ve already lost everything, what’s to fear of further risk?”

“That… sounds like a mood I know.”

She studies the sorrow at his smile’s edges. “Yes, I believe we do have that in common, however differently we channel it.”

“Not so very differently, in essentials,” Will maintains. “It’s not as if either of our paths could be called sane.”

“Or called separate,” Clarissant notes. “Indeed, my path intersected with yours in a most astonishing way.”

“And with Allyn’s!”

“Of course with Allyn’s. His powers of protagonism are nothing short of cosmic.”

“Because he is a Chosen One,” says Will. “Whereas you, lady of Orkney, are one who chose.”

“Lady of Listeneise,” says Clarissant, a pleased shade of pink rising in her plump cheeks at Will’s words. “I have been wed and widowed, you know.”

“Belated congrats and condolences. So, now that Danielle’s given you a space in her Camelot legend, what would you most like to be remembered for?”

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Also, it seems she has lately inspired a stage play! One review found here.

“Part of me would say my destination,” Clarissant says thoughtfully. “Another part would say my journey. Each is its own kind of important, in a tale. Above all, I think I would like to be remembered as my own knight. My own champion and hero, lacking only the title and shiny trappings that would have been mine as they were my brothers’, had I been born a boy. I’d have been one of the Round Table’s best, I don’t doubt.”

“And which side would you have fought for, at Camlann?”

An indelicate snort. “For Arthur’s, naturally. And would have talked my more foolish brothers ‘round into doing the same.”

“Sounds like the right choice, to me! And while we’re on the subject of choices: Tell me, Clarissant, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” A smile of epic proportions. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“Oh, I hardly think our author has much time for secrets, these days. You and I may as well share a kiss.”

Thus saying, Clarissant leans forward to set a kiss each to the smile lines bracketing Will’s mouth. Aforesaid lines crease into their customary position as Will calls out, “Ho, Allyn, what’s the word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “is brought to you by ‘The Once and Future Camelot’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now in paperback (here) and e-book (here and here)

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Everyone knows the story. Nobody knows the truth.

According to legend – and to Merlin’s prophecies – the great King Arthur Pendragon will someday reign again. But “someday” has been a long time in coming, with decades spent confined in Avalon, the ancient Faerie isle disguised in modern times as an everyday  Renaissance Faire. What remains of Camelot’s court pass their summers by putting on famous faces for the Outside world, all the while questioning who they were before death and magical rebirth robbed them of their memories.

For Camelot to rise again, they must remember the fall.

With nothing but centuries of hearsay to mine for clues, the mysteries remain: Were Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot the betrayers, or the betrayed? How came Sir Bedivere to be known as “the One-Handed”, and what hand had he in the kingdom’s undoing? Did the inscrutable Morganne le Fey stand with Arthur, or with his enemies?

And do truly great enemies ever die?

In this epic successor to the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, the time comes at last for “once” and “future”  to unite, thanks to – (or in spite of) – a king and a wizard, the Round Table and the Fey folk, and one outlaw minstrel whose destiny has only just begun.

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you, too, Clarissant! 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 talk to Danielle about getting them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

In Which the World Scrambles to Catch Up

Robin Hood looks up with a smile and wave from his seat at a coffee shop table. “Danielle! Good to see you again.”

I settle into the seat across from him. “Right? It’s been too long since last time.”

“Just a bit over a year now, I believe – with that so-called coffee shop a mere set on a stage, you portrayed by the Merry Men’s minstrel, and my crazy cousin directing the show.”

“Yeah, well,” say I, recalling fondly, “Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre skits are fun, but take a lot of brain energy to script. Easier just to hang out with you one-on-one in some quiet corner of imagination.”

Robin nods, sipping his beverage. “So, what’s new?” His eyes sparkle through the aromatic steam. “Or might well I ask, what isn’t?

I loose a long and multilayered sigh. “So, so much is new. To start with, remember how excited I was last year about landing that Amazon fulfillment center job?”

“Weeping with delight, if I rightly remember.”

“Mm. Well, the weeping remained,” I say grimly. “Turns out the job’s demands and culture are not, shall we diplomatically say, a good fit for me and Tirzah. Work-related injuries led to her resignation, and I was eager to follow before my own body and soul broke down beyond repair. But until she or I could find another job, I needed to stay where I was; rent for our adorable little home wasn’t going to pay itself, alas.”

Robin’s hum and crinkled expression radiate sympathy. “That sounds like quite the unhappy burden to bear.”

“It was,” I acknowledge, “but for Tirzah’s sake, ‘twas borne voluntarily. Her body and soul needed to know they were in a safe place for recovery before she could fully face the challenge of finding something new.”

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From my personal journal, Oct. 18, 2019

“Was the Fresno job search better, this time around?”

I’ve only just been served my tea, and I almost snort the first mouthful out my nose. “As desert-dry as ever. Sometimes I’m amazed there are two employed folks to rub together, in that city. Tirzah did come across an extraordinary opportunity elsewhere, though. And by elsewhere, I mean San Francisco.”

San Fran Magic Triptych

Robin’s brows rise. “You love that city.”

“I do! And the idea of moving there…” I break off, speechless with overwhelm. “It would have been magical. But she didn’t get the job.”

“Oh, luv…”

The time-honored nod of a mourner accepting condolences. “That was really hard – to have hopes fly so high, then come crashing down. But it served a purpose. It raised our gaze. We realized that if we aspired to live in or near San Francisco, there was no point continuing to apply for jobs in Fresno. So we centered our efforts on the Bay Area. Even visited there again, at the start of my birthday month, to help cement our intentions via a neuro-linguistic programming conference.”

“Neuro-linguistic…?”

NLP, for short. Any case, we were dreaming big and striving hard for— huh.” A retrospective pause. “It felt like a slogging eternity, but I guess this chapter had its beginnings in July and is in the midst of coming to a close. I’d sort of dared the universe to get me free of Amazon by my birthday.”

“…And?” Robin prompts, when I leave him hanging.

“That’s the day T and I drove three hours, one way, so she could have an in-person interview at an assisted-living facility.” I smile. “And she got offered the job on the spot.”

Robin’s grin could outshine the sun (*cough* nobody tell Raeóryn *cough*). “DAR-ling!”

31 years old

I wriggle with joy. “That was a Wednesday. They scheduled her to start on Tuesday. That gave us less than a week to pack up and move out – which we managed, like the legends we are, though it would’ve been worlds easier,” I say pointedly, “if we’d had a legendary band of outlaws physically present to lug boxes and furniture into storage.”

Robin shrugs his apologies. “You know we’d have been there if we could. Same for when you’re ready to move in somewhere new. Which will be… when?”

“Not entirely sure yet. It’s hotel and Airbnb life, to start with, because Tirzah’s job alone won’t provide income enough to reassure any potential landlords of our financial stability.”

“Ah. So it must wait until you’ve found a job, too.”

A casual sip of my tea. “Oh, I’ve just done that.”

“YOU—?!”

“At a children’s museum. The day before drafting this blog post,” I say, smirking to keep from squealing. “That was a Wednesday. I’m scheduled to start—”

No.”

“Yep. Tuesday.”

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From my personal journal, Oct. 28, 2019

“One week and a whirlwind apart,” Robin marvels. “’Twould seem you’ve got a strong share of magic to work with, after all.”

“’Twould indeed,” I murmur, weary and wonder-filled, tired and twinkling with hope. “It’s been a ride-and-a-half, Robin Hood, but I think it’s taking me where I need to go. Where I want to go, even. I can’t wait to see which blessings land in my lap next!”

“If things carry on at the rate they’ve been,” says Robin, raising his drink in salute, “that wait may not be long at all.”

San Fran Magic Diptych

Once and Future Favorites

As of last week, the Artist Artwork Formerly Known as #CamelotWIP is out in the world. In celebration, I’d like to take a moment to carry on with what I’ve been doing since, like, 2016: Gush about my utter infatuation with this book.

Seriously, I’m not remembering if any other writing project of mine has made a hostage of my imagination like this. Not to play favorites but… no, actually, yeah, that’s exactly what we’re playing. Behold, a few (dozen) of my favorite things about “The Once and Future Camelot”!

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~ Favorite Character ~

Why would I even ask myself this when there’s no way I can answer it? I went into drafting this book with a spiked interest in some of the characters and their complicated plot, but it wasn’t until I was neck-deep in the ruins of Camelot that I realized I was falling in love with everyone around me.

With Gawain for his strange serenity; with Lancelot for his rough-edged passion; with Mordred for his secret heart; with Arthur for his impossible love. My spirit tangled with the rich emptiness of Morganne’s. My blood burned in tandem with Bedivere’s. My— well, let’s not go so far as to say ‘love’ is what I feel for Merlin; my inner Will Scarlet’s got too much to process for that.

Anyway, I honestly cannot point to any single character as my certain favorite. Just follow the pain, and you’ll find my heart there.

~ Favorite Relationships ~

(Just went ahead and used the plural, so I can point to more than one. ^o^)

– Galahad x Mordred, because y’all already know I’m here all day for a big ol’ bromance.

– Arthur x Robin Hood; see reasoning above.

– Gawain x Guinevere, because it’s so low-key and tangential yet grounding for both of them to have each other. I think they mutually see one another (in the “Sun’s Rival” sense) better than any other pairing in the story, and something in me takes a relieved sort of comfort in that.

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Favorites to Play the Cast of #CamelotWIP, as seen on the Outlaws of Avalon Tumblr

~ Favorite Chapter ~

Book 1, Chapter XV. The one I spent all the chapters that came before it absolutely itching to write. The one that could arguably stand as a satisfying short story all on its own. The one that’s been sending delicious thrills through my bones at the very thought of it for three years and counting. That chapter.

~ Favorite Scenes/Moments ~

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In no particular order…

– The birth of Excalibur

– Knight vs. Hell-beast

– Wizard vs. Lady of the Lake

– Mordred in the rain

– Orkneys in the stable

– “A moment to confer”

– Spring Break Faeries

– Prayer room rebellion

– Arthur x Lancelot, shortly after Now

– Two willing tools of enemies

– Two dragons on the roof

– Two roads diverged in a legend, and he… he chose the harder treachery… and that has me over here bawling.

~ Favorite Narrative Voice ~

I originally thought I could write an entire novel from Morganne’s point of view. I would come to learn that this would not be a viable option. The thing about Morganne is – as once I put it in a Twitter post – she’s basically got ‘magical depression.’ She’s incapable of generating her own emotions, making her POV a necessarily dispassionate experience. It’s a fascinating space to put myself in for the odd chapter here and there, but for a whole book? Exhausting just to contemplate.

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For a minute later on, I thought I could tell the book’s second half in Bedivere’s voice. Again, that turned out to be a no, but for opposite reasons. Bedivere’s got feelings and opinions about everything, and if he chooses to talk about it at all, it’ll be in the most smart-alecky way possible. While this can be fun, and makes for hilarious irreverent monologue/dialogue, he couldn’t give all the other characters’ inner lives justice if he tried (which he probably wouldn’t).

All that having been said, those two were still probably my favorite first-person voices to use in this predominantly third-person novel.

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~ Favorite Songs I Associate with #CamelotWIP~ (as shared on its page on my website)

~ Favorite Quotes ~

Not by any means a comprehensive list, but some of the standouts include…

– The room was thick with breath arrested.

– “Up, Galahad, son of Lancelot du Lac, Champion of the King, and so forth.”

– It was the Age of Chivalry. Unrequited love was the new black.

– Then up goes his head, no matter how heavy. Up goes a smile, no matter how sad.

– “Amendment,” I allow. “I apologize for the villainy.”

– My formative years were all prayers, rites, and living in hope that movable type would someday replace copying the Holy Book by hand.

The cost of immortality? A silent chuckle. Immortality.

– “The sun favors those brave of face.”

– Feeling I must tell you, choosing to say nothing: My kindest, cruelest way of holding power over you…

– Mordred’s lashes, doom of adoring maidens…

– “What else?” said Robin Hood. “Call our congressmen.”

“I would know him,” I point out, and you shoot me a glare of irritation.

“Of course you would. And were it practical to wave you about like a divining wand over every man I met, so would I. But you are not a /tool/, Morganne.”

My lips play the part of a smile. “Meaning I am not biddable.”

You nod your hair into your eyes, shove it back again. “Meaning I need something that is.”

Camelot Tweet, BedivereIsOnFire

<<<>>>

Have you started reading “The Once and Future Camelot” yet? If yes, what are your favorite parts or aspects of the book, so far? If no, but you think you might get around to checking it out eventually, what are you most looking forward to? (Or, hey, did you perchance have a favorite part of this blog post?) Gush along in the comments!

The [Once and] Future is NOW!

After months of hype, #CamelotWIP is a work-in-progress no longer. That’s right: “The Once and Future Camelot” is now published!

And when I say “months of hype”, I basically mean… well, I’ve talked about it a lot on Twitter. Had a number of tie-in blog posts. Tha-a-a-at’s about it.

Was a time I’d have organized a giveaway, reached out to a legion of advance reviewers, maybe tried to put together a blog tour. But that was the ‘Once’ Deshipley. The ‘Future’ Deshipley has had neither the time nor the energy for that level of hoopla.

I’ll tell you what I do have, though: A truly great imagination that never dies. And with it, I invite you to join me in pretending that this epic novel got the promotional campaign it deserves. Heck, if we’re dreaming, let’s go all out and pretend this epic novel got a blockbusting theatrical trailer! I’ll even provide the script, complete with dialogue and imagery lifted straight from the actual book. ^_^

<<<>>>

[A knight and a lady engage in passionate goings-on. Murmurs of “Oh, Lance…” and “My queen…” and such in between kisses. Romantic music swells. Candlelight brightens and blurs the scene.]

Sir Bedivere voice-over: “I’ll give ‘em this.”

[Cut to Future Bedivere on a modern family room couch, munching on nachos.]

Bedivere cont.: “That was a lot more tastefully done than a number of comparable scenes we’ve viewed.”

[In the light of the television, Sir Lancelot glowers.]

King Arthur, warningly: “Bedivere.”

Bedivere: “I’m just looking for silver linings, my liege. Related point: The guy they cast to play you. Very pretty.”

[Cut to another dimly lit castle setting and a teen boy (Mordred).]

Mordred: “I believe that statement was technically treason.”

[Quietly epic music]

[Onscreen writing: EVERYONE KNOWS THE STORY.]

Elaine voice-over: “Arthur Pendragon is the chosen King… Chosen not only of the Sword, but of Heaven. And to serve him is to know Heaven on Earth.”

[Montage of a young Galahad taking in his first awesome sight of Camelot… overhead shot of the famed Round Table… Guinevere being presented to Arthur for marriage… knights bowing, banners flying, Excalibur gleaming, yadda-yadda…]

[Onscreen writing: NOBODY KNOWS THE TRUTH.]

Future Lancelot, at Merlin’s computer desk: “Tell me what happened.”

[Cut to Past Lancelot, on trial before the Round Table.]

Future Lance cont., voice-over: “Tell me it wasn’t like that.”

[Montage of basically everybody, Past and Future, looking various shades of miserable, angry, distressed…]

Merlin voice-over: “We cannot move forward until we’ve put what’s behind us to rest. …And I am not the one to remind you.”

[Restless music]

Morganne le Fey, as seen through a scrying bowl: “Merlin… What has caused you fear?”

[Cut to Vivienne, Lady of the Lake, rising like a beautiful menace from her mist-veiled waters.]

Merlin voice-over, ominous: “She’s coming.”

Morganne voice-over: “She could not do it alone.”

[Montage of the Black Knight fighting… Lancelot scowling at who-knows-what… a horned Faerie boy vanishing with a grin into a puff of purple smoke…]

[Onscreen writing: HOW DID THEY FALL?]

Past Lancelot: “I’m… sorry.”

Galahad, flinching away in fury: “Sorry? For which sin sorry?”

[Cut back to Vivienne in the lake, taunting.]

Vivienne: “Can it be that I foresee what you have not?”

[Cut to scene of epic Camlann battle.]

Vivienne cont., voice-over: “Have you yet to dream what’s coming?”

Merlin voice-over, sounding thoroughly shook: “I suppose it was simply time.”

[Cut to a tearstained Allyn-a-Dale.]

Allyn: “How long before we stop believing time to be our ally?”

[Onscreen writing: HOW WILL THEY RISE?]

Past Guinevere, in a courtyard: “I would have you fight for Arthur.”

Future Lancelot, in a parking lot: “It will take all of us.”

[Cut to Arthur, first Past then Future, looking grim as he prepares to pronounce judgement.]

Arthur voice-over, vehement: “If I am ever to be a king again, it will be because I stand up and choose to act like one.”

[Cut to Morganne blowing a bowl of magic smoke into Arthur’s face, rendering him unconscious.]

Morganne voice-over: “We stand as we see fit, little Pendragon. Trust no one any further than that.”

[Chorus of Imagine Dragons’ “Warriors blasts.]

[Montage showing Sirs Gawain, Lancelot, and Bedivere looking knightly… a monstrous dragon spewing a ball of fire… the Green Knight swinging his broadaxe in the forest, transitioning to Guinevere striking a blood-splattering blow with a sword in the moonlight… Arthur fighting shadow creatures in some nightmarish wasteland… some vaguely undead-looking figure blowing to nothing in a gale-force wind… Merlin’s eyes glowing white amidst a galaxy’s worth of burning stars…]

[Music quiets]

Merlin voice-over: “Things happen as they’re meant to.”

[Cut to Future Bedivere, chilling out of medieval uniform.]

Bedivere, flatly: “Things. Not a political scandal, not the unraveling of Camelot… just things.”

[Cut to Future Gawain, pleasantly smiling.]

Gawain: “That’s easily remedied.”

[Title card: THE ONCE AND FUTURE CAMELOT]

Future Bedivere: “A lot’s changed since before.”

Future Arthur: “I wouldn’t say ‘changed.’ I’d say ‘been brought to light.’”

Future Bedivere: “That does sound sexier.”

[Onscreen writing: IN PAPERBACK AND EBOOK NOW]

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THAT’S the kind of hype I’m talking about! If you are now dying to see the movie… erm, that is, read the book, grab your paperback copy here, and/or ebook here (Barnes & Noble / Nook / epub) or here (Amazon / Kindle / mobi)! All purchases, reviews, and word-of-mouth sharing shall be most appreciated.

See you around Avalon,

~ Danielle

Letters to Camelot: At First [G]Lance

Dear Lancelot,

I must apologize.

It was one thing for Allyn-a-Dale to form a certain impression of you during Books 1, 1.5, and 2 of the Outlaws of Avalon series. He was but a fellow character, with a character’s limited view. And for all his exceptional talents and abilities, soul-reading is not one. Of course he thought you were merely stuck-up.

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But I, as your author, ought to have sooner known better. Ought to have taken half-a-moment to scrutinize past your frigid exterior. Ought to have figured out sometime before the third novel I wrote you into that, oh, you weren’t an arrogant asshole, you just had autism.

Also, misery. You had a whole lot of that. (And they say you can’t take anything with you, when you die…)

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Once I actually went looking inside your head, I found you unexpectedly appealing to write about. Sure, you still pulled some jerk moves; did some people wrong; were as far from perfect as anyone semi-universally agreed upon to have cuckolded his beloved king would have to be. But you’re more than your faults, and bigger than your blunders. And to  my mind, you deserved better than you got.

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May the future renaissance of Camelot see the wrongs you’ve done (and done to you) made right.

Your author,

~ Danielle E. Shipley

<<<>>>

One for the #CamelotWIP playlist!

For Lancelot = I don’t know what made me first think so, but now I can’t unthink it: Lance singing “Falling Slowly” (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, ‘Once’) to Arthur would be just a little bit perfect.

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Everyone knows the story. Nobody knows the truth.

According to legend – and to Merlin’s prophecies – the great King Arthur Pendragon will someday reign again. But “someday” has been a long time in coming, with decades spent confined in Avalon, the ancient Faerie isle disguised in modern times as an everyday  Renaissance Faire. What remains of Camelot’s court pass their summers by putting on famous faces for the Outside world, all the while questioning who they were before death and magical rebirth robbed them of their memories.

For Camelot to rise again, they must remember the fall.

With nothing but centuries of hearsay to mine for clues, the mysteries remain: Were Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot the betrayers, or the betrayed? How came Sir Bedivere to be known as “the One-Handed”, and what hand had he in the kingdom’s undoing? Did the inscrutable Morganne le Fey stand with Arthur, or with his enemies?

And do truly great enemies ever die?

In this epic successor to the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, the time comes at last for “once” and “future”  to unite, thanks to – (or in spite of) – a king and a wizard, the Round Table and the Fey folk, and one outlaw minstrel whose destiny has only just begun.

The Once and Future Camelot” – coming soon!

Edit: Sooner than soon, in one respect: The Barnes & Noble/Nook e-book edition is available for pre-order here! Buy now, receive the goods on October 25th! Kindle and print editions, still to come. Stay tuned!

Questions for Camelot

The facts are these: Ya gurl Deshipley is super tired and low on creative energy, right now. But I still wanted to find some way to sorta-kinda make good on Rule #4 of last week’s Sunshine Blogger Award tag.

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So rather than use up all my juice on coming up with interesting things to ask people, I took advantage of this little thing called ‘the internet’ (Will Scarlet told me about it; sounds pretty lit) and scared up this resource full of various getting-to-know-you questions. Now I just needed to find 11 people to do the answering.

Naturally, I turned to “The Once and Future Camelot” – which, lucky for us all, has enough point-of-view characters on cast to pair each one with a question at semi-random. Let’s see what our knights/squires, wizard, half-Fey, etc. had to say for themselves!

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1 = @ Galahad – What do you hope never changes?

The youth sniffs in grumpy disdain. “Most things under Heaven need to change, if you ask me. Which… you have. But,” he allows, glaring thoughtfully at the sky, “if I could see one thing unchanged forever – and if I may permit myself a single self-serving desire – I would hope that, even when we are both grown up and come fully into knighthood, I could yet retain Mordred at my side.” His lips do not quite smile, but they soften. “Sometimes he feels like the only thing that makes this too-unchanging world bearable.”

*

2 = @ Sir Lancelot – What is the luckiest thing that has happened to you?

The answer comes sharp and hard, without hesitation. “Arthur deciding he wants me. Not everything that came of it was lucky. But that part was.”

*

3 = @ Queen Guinevere – What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

She hums in thought for a moment, then decides, “While the lack of preparation might render the material a bit disorganized, I could easily spend forty minutes lecturing on Fey culture. Though, a question-and-answer session would probably be better,” she adds, “so as to ensure I hit upon any points the audience most wants to learn. There’s no covering all I know in so short a time, after all; and even what I know may not cover the half of the Faerie world’s complexities.”

*

4 = @ Sir Bedivere – What kind of art do you enjoy most?

“That would be the art of— how does the book put it? Ah, yes.” His grin glints, dagger-like. “Making men squirm. Not to call myself a master of it, but yeah, I basically am.”

*

5 = @ Mordred – How do you relax after a hard day of work?

“A cool bath can wash away any number of hours of labor,” the boy replies, his low voice no less relaxing. “All the better if the bathing takes place in a lively brook, or a fountain, or a lake. I would sleep a whole night long on a lakebed, if I could,” he says, tone wistful. “How in the world did straw-filled pallets become the castle norm?”

*

6 = @ Morganne le Fey – Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?

Her blink falls slow and rises slower over a midnight gaze. “I don’t know that one could say any of us have truly accomplished anything. In the smaller scheme of things, however, I would list those with the name Pendragon. My mother, who learned exclusive magic and rose to Queenship of all Faeriekind. My father, a nobody who rode a random stroke of luck all the way to a throne of his own. And my half-brother, who has held onto his heart even as he’s given it freely away, and thereby gained the hearts of legions in return.”

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

*

7 = @ Merlin – When people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with?

“When people come to me, it’s usually for answers,” the magician says shortly. “When people leave me, it’s usually without answers. Maybe someday they’ll figure that out and stop wasting their time and mine.”

*

8 = @ Allyn-a-Dale – What is the most annoying question that people ask you?

“‘How are you?’” The minstrel strums a bitter chord upon his lute. “Rather,” he continues, plucked notes trickling behind him, “it’s annoying when strangers or acquaintances ask, because they’re not truly interested in knowing; won’t really hear any answer but ‘fine’. Yet it’s worse when those close to you ask, because they won’t take ‘fine’ for an answer. They know what you’ve suffered; they’ve read it or lived it with you in the third Outlaws of Avalon novel. But still they ask, as if words can contain what you feel.” He mutes his lute strings with a sigh. “It’s all of it pointless.”

*

9 = @ Sir Gawain – If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

“I expect,” he says pleasantly, “I would spend at least part of the extra time missing the need to sleep. It’s been my sole opportunity, thus far, to allow my mind any respite from active thought. A meditative state comes close, but even meditation is a mental act over which I maintain conscious control. Only unconscious can I experience life beyond the bounds of reason. This question supposes I would no longer require such. Still, a man may wish for that which he can live without.”

*

10 = @ King Arthur – What’s something you are self-conscious about?

“Truly? I don’t know if I will ever not feel self-conscious when someone kneels to me. Even when it’s just Avalon Faire patrons bowing for fun, pretending to believe I’m the king my surviving subjects really do think I am and/or will be.” His Majesty’s grimace is apologetic. “Everyone means well, but I find it, shall we say, emotionally challenging. …Excepting when Robin Hood does it,” he amends, chuckling. “He never takes a knee without a private wink to say he doesn’t believe I’m anything special. It’s a lie, but I need it, and he knows it, and that’s why we’re bros.”

*

And you haven’t yet been properly introduced, but our final question goes to…

11 = @ Clarissant of Listeneise – When do you feel truly “alive”?

“Never am I more acutely aware of how alive I am,” she says grimly, “than when someone I care for has died.”

(From a partial blog post away, Allyn murmurs, “Ah! A fitting answer to ‘How are you?’”)

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What think ye, readers, of Camelot’s answers? What would yours be? And who/what/where do you turn to when your creative energy runs dry? Tell all in the comments!

On Fictional Faves, Silliness and Song, and Potentially Grape-Related Skills

sunshine-blogger-graphicFor the second time within the same blue moon, I have been officially tagged by The Story Sponge – this time, for the Sunshine Blogger Award!

The rules are these:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you (thank you, Sponge!) and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them (already to-done above).
  2. List the rules and display an award logo on your blog post (to-doing and to-done, respectively).
  3. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you (aka, the fun-to-the-11th-power part!).
  4. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and notify them by commenting on any of their posts. (Um… I may not know that many nonfictional people. We’ll have to come up with a creative workaround for this bit…)
  5. Ask the nominees 11 new questions. (Challenge accepted.)

Now, to satisfy a certain sponge’s curiosity!

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1 = What is one phenomenal book that you think more people should know about?

eli type mockup

Not counting the ones I wrote? I’m thinking we must need a bigger fandom for The Legend of Eli Monpress” by Rachel Aaron, because I need more fan art to ogle and possibly a movie/TV series to cringingly anticipate.

2 = Who is one of your favorite fictional characters and why?

Obviously, there are dozens of people I could name here, even if I left my own characters out of the mix. Rather than force myself to choose one here and now, allow me to direct you to a vintage Tumblr post of mine, displaying a short list of heroes, thieves, heroic thieves, and villains/antagonists I would gleefully be or be with for a day.

3 = What is a song that you really love at this moment?

Songs from A Secret Garden

Anytime “Papillon” by Secret Garden pops up on my Pandora, my heart just sighs and sinks into the beauty. The song may be named for a butterfly, but to my ear it is gliding swans and figure skating and snowflakes dancing down to melt into the green of a willow-and-waterweeds garden.

4 = If you could acquire one real-life skill overnight, what would it be? (like the ability to perform neurosurgery or play the accordion or balance a grape on your nose for extended periods of time)

I’m torn between the ability to fluently speak all of the secondary languages I’ve ineffectively studied over the years (Spanish, French, Italian, and for the love of tongues, German), and the power to play anything on the piano, like some Mozart-esque musical maniac.

…Actually, that’s just naming the same skill twice, for what is music but yet another language?

5 = If you could acquire one non-real-life skill overnight, what would it be? (like the ability to breathe underwater or control objects with your mind or balance a grape on your nose for extended periods of time)

TEL *claps* E *claps* POR *claps* TA *claps* TION. I have more places to be than I have time and energy to get there. It’s 2019. Where’s the accessible insta-travel for all? Or, at the very least, for ME?

6 = What book surprised you the most this year, and in what way? (It doesn’t have to be one that came out this year)

Robin-Benway-Far-from-the-Tree

I had not expected Far From the Tree” by Robin Benway to make me cry so much, yet there we were.

Also, I finally ended up reading “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, and hey, who knew the writing was actually so amusing? (Answer: The basically 3 out of every 4 people on the planet who’ve already reread the book 77 times, that’s who.)

7 = Would you rather be a superhero or his butler?

Fun fact: Being a butler is one of my low-key superpowers.

8 = What makes you laugh? (Besides reading this blog, because I already know I’m hilarious)

Me: “Hmm, what does make me laugh every time?”

Tirzah Duncan: “People falling down.”

Me: *laughs*

Make 'Em Laugh

(Disclaimer: I will not necessarily laugh at people genuinely and perhaps painfully falling down in real life! As a slapstick fictional device, though? Yes. Peak comedy.)

9 = What is something that you know is silly but you love it anyway?

Let’s just say the ‘90s produced a plethora of songs/albums just for kiddos, and my 30-year-old self is nostalgically fond of quite a few. (This answer brought to you: “Bananas in Pyjamas”, “Sesame Street”, “Barney the Dinosaur”, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson, “The Little Mermaid” spin-offs, and more.)

10 = Which fictional character would you adopt in a heartbeat?

If I may cheat and name a twofer, I’d snatch up Tod and Copper from Disney’s “The Fox and the Hound”, because ‘heck yes!’ to having a pet fox, and ‘heck no!’ to their canonical life trajectory.

Fox and the Hound

11 = If money was no object, which book would you adapt either into a movie or into a Broadway musical?

OUTLAWS OF AVALON: THE MUSICAL”, pleeeeeease! (On Broadway, or animated by Disney, take your pick.) Or, y’know, I actually do have a trunked manuscript from a decade ago, entitled “Vampire: The Musical!”, which has been begging since conception to make it onto the stage or screen or radio, if I could only figure out how to get it there.

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As for a new set of 11 questions to ask and see answered… that sounds like a bit of fun for a future blog post. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, readers, if you’re just itching to give your own answers to the questions posed above, be ye not shy, but share in the comments!