Mini Muses: Behind the Mystery

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Fun fact! All of the main characters in my novel, “Inspired” – (coming in all its awesome re-release glory on March 13th!) – and it’s all-new sequel, “Out of My Head” (both newly available for preorder on Kindle, here and here!), were deliberately based off of someone else. Annabelle Gray is totally me. Her parents and sisters are essentially mine. And her characters? Well, a couple of them have yet to attain final-form stories of their own. (Sorry, guys behind Uri and Abishan! Maybe someday. I shall try.) But as for the rest, if you’ve been keeping up with the Deshipley bibliography, you’ve met them before.

And just how do these inspiration characters feel about what I made of them in the “Inspired” novels? According to Annabelle, there’d be only one surefire way to find out: A character questionnaire. So everybody give it up for my featured museling of the day!

Name and Occupation: Allyn-a-Dale, minstrel to Robin Hood’s Merry Men

As Featured In…: “The Story’s End” (The Wilderhark Tales, Book 7), The Outlaws of Avalon

“Inspired” Counterpart: Yves / Avelaine, the boy who dances with death*

*(Which is… not actually how I’ve ever described him, but Allyn just slipped that in there on his own reconnaissance, and I mean, sure, that works)

Mini Muses_Allyn and Yves

How Do You Feel You and Avelaine Are Most Similar?: Allyn stares aesthetically into the distance. “I, too, dance with death… Rather, death’s shadow has loomed large over my life since before my first breath, so I’ve developed some psychoses around it. Additionally, Avelaine and I are both greatly withdrawn and artistically gifted, thanks in part to our childhoods, which were hell. And we’re both small, which may not be hell’s fault, and speak with charming accents.”

Most Different?: “Avelaine dances, and harbors a fear of heights. I, canonically, am almost never seen dancing, and I mostly fear social situations, or my dearest loved ones dying violently before my eyes.”

Favorite Part of the Book?: “Literarily speaking, I best like the ‘Manta and the Mask’ short story embedded in Book 1. Otherwise, it’s this snippet from Book 2.”

“Dur-hur,” said Uri. “I suppose next you’ll tell me how when you were sixteen, you had to run a mile in full armor to meet the lances of your enemies, uphill both ways in the snow.”

Wilbur’s voice hinted at laughter. “Not ‘til I entered the knighthood at twenty, no. The uphill runs in the snow at sixteen were to chase down wayward sheep.”

“I was suffering child abuse,” Avelaine put in from a step behind them. “Uphill. Both ways.”

“’Twould seem Avelaine and I share a similar sense of humor.”

Favorite Character Besides “Yourself”?: “First off, I dislike choosing favorites, so how dare you. Second, I suppose I’ll say Wilbur, because he’s the nearest thing Avelaine has to his own personal Will Scarlet – in the ‘band brother’ sense, not the ‘high-key maniac’ one. You’ve developed another character for that…”

<<<>>>

Thanks for your time, Allyn! And readers, stay tuned – both for the continuation of this questionnaire series, and the release of the “Inspired” novels!

Got any more questions for Allyn-a-Dale or his author regarding “Inspired”? Ask away in the comments!

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Books I’ve Read (and My Characters Recommend) in 2017

As of this post’s drafting, I’ve read* 73 books** this year.

*(or listened to on audio)

**(not counting shorts stories, or the bits of flash fiction I wrote myself, or the draft of Part 2 of #CamelotWIP, or the “Inspired” novels I’ve reread in editorial prep for their release next March…)

Do I remember all of them? No. Have I reviewed all of them? Hardly. Weren’t there a couple of other books I totally told myself I’d read but have yet to get around to? Why, yes. But ignoring all that, I still call this a win of a year for reading. And some of the people in my head got to benefit from the words I consumed as well.

Since I plan to give my life-in-upheaval a break by not blogging during December (apart from that one post I’mma schedule for the first), now’s the time if ever there was to do a recap post of sorts.

I’m not gonna do one, though. My characters are.

Please welcome Will Scarlet, Allyn-a-Dale, Loren McCaughley and Sir Bedivere (all of Outlaws of Avalon fame), and Edgwyn Wyle (from the Wilderhark Tales)! Which books would y’all like to spotlight?

Will Scarlet’s top pick = “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” (Mackenzi Lee)

Character Rec'd - Will

“This was SUCH A ROMP, you guys! I wanted Danielle to grab it for me the moment I heard the premise – which she couldn’t actually do, since the book wasn’t even out yet at the time, but it showed up at the library eventually! Monty (the main character, yo) is just ENTIRELY ME. Y’know, if I’d been born in 18th-century England to an awful father, as opposed to 12th-century England to a father I have no memory of. So yeah. This book. My fave. Hands down.”

Honorable mention(s) = “The Alloy of Law” / “Shadows of Self” (Brandon Sanderson)

“Also entirely me: Wayne. Y’know, if I were a cheerful kleptomaniac whose brilliant brain makes no sense. Which I am. So obviously I love him. He is the best. Also, Sanderson’s Mistborn books are just awesome. Amazing world-building. Plots like whoa. And did I mention Wayne. We’ve still gotta get our hands on the next book in the series, though, so NOBODY SPOIL IT.”

Allyn-a-Dale’s top pick = “The Hearts We Sold” (Emily Lloyd-Jones)

Character Rec'd - Allyn

“A girl made desperate from abuse sells her heart to an enigmatic demon, meaning she’s now under contract to battle interdimensional portals and the creatures that lurk within. #Relatable The love interest was nice. The narrative voice was casually decent. I liked the parts that hurt.”

Honorable mention(s) = “A Conjuring of Light” (V.E. Schwab) / “Strange the Dreamer” (Laini Taylor)

“More pain! ^o^ At least one of these made Danielle cry; I don’t recall whether the other did, too, or if she only ached. And sorry-not-sorry, but after everything she put me through in my last book, she owes me this means of catharsis.”

Loren McCaughley’s top pick = “Robin Hood” (J. Walker McSpadden)

Character Rec'd - Loren

“Speaking as someone who knows her way around a classic Robin Hood novel, I felt this version was particularly enjoyable. Like, up there with Howard Pyle’s; definitely more fun than Roger Lancelyn Green’s. (We’ll see how it stacks up against Henry Gilbert’s when we get there. Fingers crossed we start reading it on the plane when Danielle leaves for California!) If you’re a fellow Sherwood junkie, do it.”

Honorable mention(s) = “Remnants” (Stacy Xavier)

“Yeah, okay, this and ‘Ivanhoe’ were the titles that Danielle was going to read this month, but then… didn’t?? And both of them have Robin Hood in them, so I’m less than overjoyed at the holdup. But she’ll definitely make a point of reading ‘Remnants’ eventually, because it’s a Hood retelling, inspired by a Hood photo shoot she was in, written by a fellow Bristol Renaissance Faire cast member. In other words, how could she not?”

(Related note: There’s a giveaway for this book going on right now. Just sayin’.)

Sir Bedivere’s top pick = “The Fall of Arthur” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Character Rec'd - Bedivere

“Vexingly, the poem isn’t even finished, so the book’s padded out with the author’s son’s speculations and analyses and other stuff that is not the father of modern fantasy waxing lyrical on my king’s demise. Still, speaking for the Camelot demographic of Avalon Faire, if it’s relevant to the lives we lost, we’re reading it. And this was an interesting take on it all, if incomplete. It left my soul wanting, and isn’t that just what thinking on our fallen kingdom’s all about?”

Honorable mention(s) = “Yvain, the Knight of the Lion” (M.T. Anderson and Andrea Offermann)

“Yippee, more Camelot – this time in graphic novel form. Arthur was kind of worthless in this one, as were… wow, pretty much all the men, really. Sorry, damsels and dames, you deserved better. But the lion was on his A-game, the story was about on par for a medieval ballad, and the illustrations made things worthwhile.”

And speaking of Wyles: Edgwyn, take us home!

Edgwyn Wyle’s top pick = “Murder, Magic, and What We Wore” (Kelly Jones)

Character Rec'd - Edgwyn

“A Regency-era spy novel with a focus on fashion! As a tailor, I was very much drawn to main character Annis’s attention to one’s attire and its making. And then – (this is in the book’s blurb, right? It’s not spoiling to speak of it? Ah, good) – she discovers she has a magical sewing talent! Imagine my delight. ^_^ I was easily enough able to predict most of the plot twists, but it was good fluffy fun, for all that.”

Honorable mention(s) = “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale” (Danielle E. Shipley)

“This late in the year, Danielle’s mostly forgotten she released this novel back in early spring. But that’s in part why she keeps me around: To remember things for her. Thus do I recall this charming love story – a fine match for my fairytale heart. She’s never sure which book in the Outlaws trilogy to name as her favorite, but mine is without a doubt this one.”

Awwwww, thanks, Edg! And thanks to you all, for sharing your literary opinions.

How about YOU, readers? Which tales have filled your year, so far? What do you think you’ll read next? Discuss in the comments!

Truly Great Songs, and All That

Truly Great Words, w text 5, JPG,bestMe: Outlaws 2.5 releases on Wednesday. I need something special to hype the book. But what?

Will Scarlet: I’ve got just the thing! Allyn, you know how our new flash fiction collection highlights 45 different archaic words?

Allyn-a-Dale: Yes…?

Will: Throw together a summary-song that includes every one of them.

Allyn: Wha— Now? Right off the top of my head?

Will: Just that! Can do?

Allyn: Well, I guess this is what Father trained me for. [takes up his lute] All right. Here goes… everything.

Truly Great Words (In Musical Summary)

With Weltschmerz, a tale of our Robin Hood’s woes,

While Simony minstrel philosophy shows.

Tautoosious tells us of two of a kind,

And Senocular means that you’ll six times less likely be blind.

*

In Ostent, a Scarlet autumnal display.

And Gant-o’-the-Lute sighs for days Cumber-free,

Then makes light of normalcy, Natural-ly.

And rather than Reverence, see Hood treat with kings his own way.

*

Though not what he’s used to, you’ll find Natheless

That Sir Gawain likes his queen’s version of chess.

Autological’s tale… well, it is what it is,

While Accismus fakes a concern with the lingerie biz.

*

Deja luDeja lu… Yes, that’s twice the word’s seen.

And next, Sagittipotent shows Robin’s quirk.

Barbigerous and Adoral are comparably themed,

But one’s semi-bromance; the other, not suited for work.

*

In Lumming, two lady friends dance down the sky,

Then one Coxcomb stays true to his legend’s brand.

And Rivelled’s the upside of wrinkles in plans.

As for freeing Scarlet from Durance, we do it – but why?

*

Sherwood Ecophobia? Nay, here dwells my heart,

Among Alderliefest friends ever I’ve had.

And not Tralatiously are these words said:

My Men are all music, and glad am I to play a part.

*

In Gapeseed and Fallow, we follow the Fey.

And where there’s a Countervail, there is a weigh

(Ludicropathatic as that pun may be).

And in Caeseious, see why a census makes no sense for me.

*

Will: THIS IS BRILLIANT! I wanna try!

Allyn: B-but you can’t—

Will: Can, and WILL!

Onto Erinaceous, which may miss the point.

And who needs the Ramage, with bards to throw shade?

To have Truck with us is to have your day made;

No Pandiculation, here! This is one happening joint!

*

Ne-moph-ilous or Nemo-phil-ous? Who knows?

Suffice to say forests are loved by the Hoods.

No place to Convive like the outlaw-filled woods!

…Now watch Allyn Bowdlerize my verses; that’s how it goes.

Allyn: Did I think that proper, I’d do it Amain.

Alas, though, I fear it would not be Condign.

In games of songmaking, the clear Boot is mine.

No need for your face to Incarnadine. Try it again.

*

Will: Well, as you’ll not Beshrew my tuneful Moiety

(A fact which, in truth, Obfuscate-s me like whoa),

I’ll Pore on how to best to end this melody.

…Mm, nope, you just take it. We want it to Fadge well, you know.

*

Allyn: Ultracrepdiarian, I see you’re not;

And thanks to your letting the expert be heard,

This well-nigh Montivigant song that we’ve got,

With its ups and its downs, has at last used the last of the words.

The End

Me [with wild applause]: Huzzah for my Merry Minstrel! …and for his plus-one. X) How could anyone say no to buying the e-book now?

Will: Priced at just 99 cents? They’d be mad not to. Pre-order today, people! If we move enough copies, maybe I can talk Allyn into writing a ‘Thanks for Making Our Author a Bestseller’ song.

Allyn [laughing]: Consider it promised. ^_^

Go Figur[in]e

“We interrupt what would have been your regularly scheduled Interactive Theatre skit,” says Will Scarlet, “to bring you something so, much, cooler!”

“What now?” groans Allyn, ever among the last to know.

“I’ll tell you ‘what now’. No, better: I’mma show it. Get a load of this!”

Will 'n' Allyn figures 02

“Oh!” Allyn brightens. “The figurines fashioned in our likeness, as gifted to our author by dear Chelsea de la Cruz.”

“Heck yes!” Will cheers. “I mean, it was awesome enough when she made the ones for the Wilderhark crowd—”

“As can be seen in the Wilderhark Art gallery on Danielle’s website,” Allyn inserts helpfully.

“Yeah, right, sure. But THEN – out of the blue – Christmas in September! Can we take a minute to analyze the perfection of these pieces? ‘Cause seriously.”

Will 'n' Allyn figures, Will

“First of all, let’s talk about my hat. That is a fabulous hat – all red and feathered and vaguely sparkly. And then you’ve got the complimentary redness of my shirt and sorta raspberry-swirlness of my nod-to-hose. Dat belt, tho. And – best thing of all – the 100% symbolic heart of gold!”

Will 'n' Allyn figures, Chelsea chat

And then there’s my little ALLYN! ^o^

“Down, D,” says Will. “We’re telling it. Allyn-a-Dale, your assessment, please?”

Will 'n' Allyn figures, Allyn

“Blue,” Allyn says happily. “A magnificent, marbled blue, like unto a windswept sky.”

“ ‘Like unto’?” Will repeats. “Isn’t that a little much?”

“You said we’re telling it, so let me tell it. Also of note, the cape. A fine, princely garment, that – particularly with its shining chain.”

“I’ll say,” Will agrees. “Mercy, when have you ever dressed up so fancy in real/fictional life, Allyn?”

“A rare occasion or two comes to mind.”

“Well, you look darling as all get-out. That FACE, man!”

“It’s all eyes.”

“Meaning Chelsea nailed it. Is she or is she not the absolute best friend of all time?”

“She certainly ranks in the upper echelons,” Allyn grants. “And we treasure the gift just as we do the giver.”

“Word. (#EverOnIt) Thanks again, Chelsea-babe! Likewise to all the blog readers who ogled these mini masterpieces with us. ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

Will 'n' Allyn figures 01

The Three Happy Horses (Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre)

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“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every other Friday—” says Allyn-a-Dale.

“*cough* Give or take,” Will inserts.

“—Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘The Three Happy Horses’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a stage right spotlight, shining down upon Robin Hood in an armchair, an ornate storybook in his lap.]

Robin/Narrator: Once upon a time, in a world where fairytales and Renaissance Faires collide, there were Three Happy Horses. Happy Horse Pony…

[A light shines on Allyn-a-Dale, his hat sprouting horse ears, and a silky tail hanging from his pants.]

Allyn/Pony [blandly ]: Such happiness is mine.

Robin/Narrator [cont.]: …Happy Horse Stud…

[Will Scarlet leaps into Allyn’s light, sporting horse ears and a tail of his own, in addition to a cool leather jacket.]

Will/Stud: It’s good to be equine!

Robin/Narrator [cont.]: …and the Happy Horse That Took Down Troy.

[Little John steps into the light, his ears stuck atop an ancient Greek warrior’s helmet, his tail red with the blood of his enemies.]

Little John/Trojan Horse [in his typical deadpan rumble ]: Neigh.

(I swear I don't actually have too much time on my hands...)
(I swear I don’t actually have too much time on my hands…)

[As the Three Horses exit stage left, the lights brighten to reveal a festive Faire backdrop, and the beribboned pole standing tall before it.]

Robin/Narrator: May Day upon them and feeling frisky with springtime, the Three Happy Horses thought it would be a lark to go dance around the ol’ Maypole – failing to take into account that the only Maypole within galloping distance belonged to the Queen of the May, a Faerie who did not take kindly to trespassing quadrupeds.

[A trapdoor beside the pole lifts open, revealing an elf-eared Marion Hood, a crown woven of flowers on her head, and a frightful scowl upon her face.]

Marion/May Queen: The local horses better not get any bright ideas today, or so help them all. [retreats back beneath trapdoor ]

Robin/Narrator [as Allyn re-enters the stage ]: Happy Horse Pony was the first to arrive at the fairgrounds, and frolicked ‘round the Maypole with merry abandon.

Allyn/Pony [skipping in resigned circles ]: Tra-la-la, la-la…

Marion/May Queen [bursting from the trapdoor ]: Who dares frolic around my Maypole?!

Allyn/Pony [stopping short with a whinny of alarm ]: Oh, spare me, I pray thee!

Marion/May Queen: Spare you? Ha! Give me one good reason I shouldn’t enchant you into a marble statue for the town square.

Allyn/Pony: Good Queen of the May, if a worthy landmark you desire, only wait until my stablemate appears behind me, for he is far grander a stallion than I.

Marion/May Queen: Is that so? Well then, if he is willing to stand in your place, I shall have him. Await in stone until he arrives, for I’ll not be denied my due!

[Marion throws out a handful of sparkles, and Allyn poses statue-still, a Happy Horse rampant. She returns below the trapdoor as Will Scarlet prances back onstage.]

Robin/Narrator: Not long afterward, Happy Horse Stud entered the fairgrounds, and frolicked ‘round the Maypole with unbridled gaiety.

Will/Stud [capering dizzily ]: Yippee-ki-yay, mare-mounters!

Marion/May Queen [bursting from the trapdoor ]: Who dares frolic around my Maypole?!

Will/Stud [skidding to a stop with a whinny of alarm ]: Don’t be mad, babe – I can change!

Marion/May Queen: Change indeed! Give me one good reason I shouldn’t enchant you into a marble statue for the town square, in place of your pony friend here.

Will/Stud [only just noticing his frozen pal ]: Holy oats! Well, listen, Your Spring Queenliness, I’d make a gorgeous tourist attraction, sure. But if you really want to bring in the sightseers, just wait ‘til my stablemate appears behind me, ‘cause believe me, he’s just like whoa.

Marion/May Queen: Is that so? Well then, if he is willing to stand in your place, I shall have him. Await in stone until he arrives, for I’ll not be denied my due!

[Marion throws out a handful of sparkles, and Will poses statue-still, with a bicep flex and an unmoving wink the audience’s way. She returns below the trapdoor as Little John steps back onstage.]

Robin/Narrator: Now at last, the Happy Horse That Took Down Troy made his way to the fairgrounds, and he stared in some dismay at his petrified friends.

Little John/Trojan Horse: What the neigh?

Robin/Narrator: Thinking quickly, the Trojan Horse sprang into action – which is to say, he first stamped hard upon the ground beside the Maypole, and then stood entirely still.

Marion/May Queen [bursting from the trapdoor ]: Who dares stamp beside—?! [double take ] Oh, my. And who left this positively magnificent statue on my doorstep? Those two Happy Horses spoke true – surely I could have no finer piece of statuary than this. The others are free to go.

[With another handful of sparkles, Allyn and Will return to mobility. …As does, to Marion’s dramatized surprise, Little John.]

Little John/Trojan Horse: CHARGE!

Robin/Narrator: And with that, the Three Happy Horses stampeded the Queen of the May…

Marion/May Queen [falling through the trapdoor ]: Ai-yeeeeee!!!

Robin/Narrator [cont.]: …Who disappeared into the earth, never to be seen again.

Allyn/Pony: Huzzah!

Will/Stud: Good show, Troy! Now, what do you say we get back to our dance? All in favor?

Allyn/Pony and Little John/Trojan Horse [in adamant unison ]: Nay.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audiences members Miranda McNeff and Steven Bourelle,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘horses’ and ‘Maypole’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

WINGS OF RENEWAL: The Cover Revealed

“We interrupt what would have been your regularly scheduled Interactive Theatre skit,” says Will Scarlet, “to bring you ‘Wings of Renewal: The Cover Revealed’!”

“Wait, what?” says Allyn-a-Dale.

Will shoves a three-ring script binder into the minstrel’s hands. “Just run with it.”

“O… kay…”

<<<>>>

Allyn/Narrator: The future is vibrant, hopeful, and filled with dragons.

[Gant-o’-the-Lute – eyes bright through reptilian contact lenses, resplendent in full-body make-up set to stun – glides over the stage on kite-like dragon wings with an exultant, musical roar.]

Allyn/Narrator: In WINGS OF RENEWAL, twenty-two authors explore the exciting new subgenre of solarpunk through the lens of these majestic creatures.

[A full-length triple mirror unfolds, with Will Scarlet in the center. His reflections appearing to multiply into forever, he raises a megaphone-like device to his mouth, likewise multiplying his voice into that of a small crowd.]

Will/Authors: We are the ninety-nine! Or, the twenty-two, anyway. Behold, our names and short story titles!

[A sweeping score singing from various speakers, a slideshow of the list projects onto the stage’s back curtain, reading as follows:

Brenda J. Pierson – Lost and Found
C.B. Carr – Summer Project
Cj Lehi – Deep Within the Corners of my Mind
Caitlin Nicoll – Glow
Caroline Bigaiski – The Dragon of Kou
Claudie Arseneault – One Last Sweet
Danny Mitchell – Dragon’s Oath
Diane Dubas – The Witch’s Son
Gemini Pond – Fighting Fire with Fire
J. Lee Elloris – The Last Guardian
Jeanne LG – The Stained Glass Dragon
Kat Lerner – Community Outreach with Reluctant Neighbors (alternatively, How to Avoid Cults)
Kimberly Kay and A. N. Gephart – Solarium
Lyssa Chiavari – Seven Years Among Dragons
M. Pax – Wings of the Guiding Suns
Marianne Drolet – The Shape of the Sun
Maura Lydon – Wanderer’s Dream
Megan Reynolds – Petrichor
Mindi Briar – Refuge
Sam Martin – Morelle and Vina
Stephanie Wagner – In the Hearts of Dragons
Tobias Wade – The Quantum Dragon

The music continuing on, the draconified Lute returns to resume his aerial dance, while Allyn wraps up the narration.]

Allyn/Narrator: Whether they irrigate dry terrain or serve as spaceships, are mythic beasts come to life or biomechanical creations of man, these dragons show us a world where renewable energy overcomes gas and oil, and cooperation replaces competition. If you love fantasy/sci-fi fusion, this is an anthology you do not want to miss! So hop on solar wings and follow us into futures that—for all their witches and dragons—are far more possible than they might seem.

Will: And now… the cover!

[The back curtain rises on the larger than life, full-spread cover art, then zooms in on the cover’s front, complete with text – all as seen below.]

Wings of Renewal, full-spread art

 

Wings of Renewal, front cover

Lute: Magnificent, no? [grins and breathes a jet of fire ]

<<<>>>

 “Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to editor Claudie Arseneault,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the information included in this anthology cover reveal production, and to Agata Jędrychowska for the creation of the cover art itself.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

The Desecration of Smaug (Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre)

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“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every other Friday—” says Allyn-a-Dale.

“*cough* Give or take,” Will inserts.

“—Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘The Desecration of Smaug’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a pair of theatre chairs, in which Will Scarlet and Allyn-a-Dale sit side by side, a tub of popcorn balanced between them. Their gazes, enhanced by old-school 3D glasses, are trained outward, as if a movie screen hovers over the Interactive Theatre audience’s heads.]

Allyn [in an aggravated stage whisper ]: Oh, for the love of all, get off the screen!

Will [mouth full ]: You mad, bro?

Allyn: We’re supposed to be watching a hobbit face a dragon, but we keep cutting back to a contrived Elf/Dwarf faux-mance that nobody asked for! Why do book-to-film adaptations always have to change everything?

Will: Everything? Oh, little minstrel, they could have changed so much more…

[The stage lights go out, and a projected title screen appears on the backdrop, reading:

THE HOBBIT: THE DESECRATION OF SMAUG

Desecration of Smaug
More or less like this.

When the lights return, Marion Hood is creeping across the stage on hobbit feet toward a pile of prop gold and jewels.]

Marion/Bilbo Baggins: No sign of the dragon. Maybe he’s long gone from the depths of the Elf king’s cellar after all.

Scary Dragon Voice: Think again!

[Out from the treasure pile thrusts the puppet head of S’more the Candy Dragon.]

Marion/Bilbo: S’more?! But what’s become of Smaug?

S’more: He was delicious. As will you be, little mouthful.

Marion/Bilbo: Not today, sugar lizard. [raises fist high, a band of gold gleaming on one finger ] Magic ring: Activate!

[The stage goes black.]

Marion/Bilbo[‘s voice in the dark ]: I’m… not sure that’s what I meant to happen.

A Distinctly Gollum-esque Voice [accompanied by a pair of eyes glowing ghoulishly ]: Who’s there, Precious? It’s been ages since any but goblinses have come this way.

Marion/Bilbo: Ages? But I was here just weeks ago. Unless… Say, Gollum – does the name Baggins mean anything to you?

Gollum: Baggins? Never heard of a Baggins before.

Marion/Bilbo: Ah, well, that explains it. Must’ve accidently set off the ring’s time travel feature instead of—

Gollum [shrieking, glowing eyes bobbing in agitation ]: Ring?! Thief! You stole it from us!

Marion/Bilbo: Whoopsies. Magic ring: Activate again! Back to the future!

[The lights return, but the treasure pile’s gone, replaced with the interior of a bachelor apartment’s living room. At the window – which conveniently frames an image of Big Ben and the Eye of London – robe draped over pajamas and violin balanced on his shoulder, stands Gant-o’-the-Lute.]

Lute/Guess Who [pauses violin music ]: John, what in the world are you supposed to be?

Marion/Bilbo: It’s for a case, Sherlock.

Allyn [bursting in the apartment door ]: All right, stop, just stop! This is an utter mess, Will, even for you.

Will [popping up from behind the couch ]: A bigger mess than the Elf/Dwarf faux-mance?

Lute and Marion [in unison ]: Easily.

Will: Well then, let that be a lesson in gratitude for you, Allyn. Things can always be worse.

Allyn: And let this be a lesson in plot construction for you.

Will: “This”?

Allyn [slaps tome into Will’s hands ]: A book. Sit. Read. I’ll get the popcorn. [exits through door as Will flips through the pages ]

Will [calling after him ]: Wait. Allyn? I think this book’s broken. The 3D glasses aren’t making the words pop at all

Marion [glancing at Lute ]: Should we tell him?

Lute [indifferently resumes playing violin ]: With what little we’re paid for this nonsense, we don’t owe him that.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audiences members Chelsea and Kelton de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘Bilbo Baggins’ and ‘time travel’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”