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 Additionally, Avelaine and I are both greatly withdrawn and artistically gifted, thanks in part to our childhoods, which were hell.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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Mini Muses: Behind the Knight

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”, 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: Edgwyn Wyle, tailor*

*(Tailored service, while you wait; the wait’s well worth Wyle)

As Featured In…: The Wilderhark Tales (Books 2 – 7)

“Inspired” Counterpart: Sir Wilbur Lamb, knight of The Order of the Dove

Mini Muses_Edg and Wilbur

How Do You Feel You and Wilbur Are Most Similar?: “Oh, in many ways. Our personalities are basically twins. We love people, and live to care for them. And ‘people’,” he laughs, “very much includes our horses. We’ve also both borne the dubious honor of being our author’s crush. …though I believe he handled it better.”

Most Different?: “He’s much more physically inclined than I am. Not that I haven’t been known to carry an enchanted princess down a beanstalk, when circumstances call for it. But he sees stuffed dummies as a faux opponent for battle exercises; I see them as a place to pin a ball gown in the making. I appear to also be the more outgoing, of the two of us. A bashful sheep, dear Wilbur can often be.”

Favorite Part of the Book?: “Can it be from Book 2? Oh, good. I like the chapter wherein Wilbur attends a service at Annabelle’s church. It’s a little emotionally trying, in its way, but so very sweet and sincere. Refreshing, too, to see a story where religion isn’t the focus still take a few pages to establish the characters’ spiritual side. I don’t recall having seen that done particularly often, in fiction.”

Favorite Character Besides “Yourself”?: “High goodness, that’s difficult. Ask me to pick among my friends, why don’t you! But perhaps I would say Uri, because … well, this bit says it well.”

“Wait,” said Wilbur, rising after her and – to much face-making on Uri’s part – pulling her into a hug. “How whole you are,” he murmured. “And how much fuller you’ve become since first I knew you.”

“Thanks, man. You’re nice and full-figured, too. Can we not hug?”

<<<>>>

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

Got any more questions for Edgwyn or his author regarding “Inspired”? Ask away in the comments!

Mini Muses: Behind the Light

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”, 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: Gant-o’-the-Lute, minstrel extraordinaire

As Featured In…: The Wilderhark Tales (Books 3, 4, 6.5, and 7), The Outlaws of Avalon

“Inspired” Counterpart: Lucianíel, light elemental muse

Mini Muses_Lute and Luc

How Do You Feel You and Luc Are Most Similar?: “Well, most obviously,” says Lute, “there are the shortened forms of our names. You didn’t stretch yourself terribly far on that one. Then there are his superhuman qualities – the speed, the brightness, the distinctively musical voice… I, in some measure, possess all of these. Furthermore, he’s deeply dedicated to his craft, a very much goal-driven protagonist, and not nearly appreciated enough by his author or fellow characters for all he contributes to the world.”

Most Different?: “The fellow cares entirely too much about books, and deems it necessary to collaborate with inferior creatures to create them, whereas my passions are music and adventure, and I much prefer to pursue them alone.” Lute’s gaze slides unhappily sideways. “I suppose I must also admit that he has proven himself, by far, the better father figure.”

Favorite Part of the Book?: “I don’t know about ‘favorite’, but I would be remiss as your imaginary friend not to highlight this particular passage from ‘Inspired’…”

Annabelle gave a ragged laugh. “You don’t have any time to waste, Lucianíel! You are not real! You are a piece of my imagination that is running amok, and who needs to get his ego in line before I start thinking this cute, delusional relationship of ours has gone past its expiration date and needs tossing out! I can’t believe I’m sitting here yelling about this! Go away. I’m reading. Come back when you want to be worth something again.”

Lucianíel’s eyes blazed. “You want to speak of delusions?” he hissed, leaning down until, on the same plane, their noses would have touched. “Here’s one you’d do best to rid yourself of, little girl, before I start forming thoughts of my own – of which I am more than capable, Annabelle Almighty, let there be no mistake about that!

“You and the abishan are under a similar misconception. You think that because you are our author, we should all bow at your feet in unquestioning adoration. But you are not our goddess. You are not our queen. We are gods and heroes, angels and elementals – and you are merely our annoying scribe.”

“I forget, now, what you’d done to set me off like that, but some of Luc’s dialogue there was almost word for word what I once spoke to you. I’m glad to see the moment made an impression on one of us.”

Favorite Character Besides “Yourself”?: “Avelaine,” he says fondly. “Let us simply say he’s based upon a character of great importance to me.”

<<<>>>

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

Got any more questions for Gant-o’-the-Lute or his author regarding “Inspired”? Ask away in the comments!

The OG Bad Guy (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“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.”

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logo

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’s face goes bloodless white, eyes wide on his clipboard. “Will…” he virtually whispers. “This… tell me this name isn’t right.”

“That depends,” says Will. “What’s the name?”

The camera zooms in for a close-up of Allyn’s terror. “Sir Guy of Gisborne.

“Yep,” Will confirms. “That’s who we’ve got. You gonna read that introduction now, or…?”

“No.” Allyn’s already backing offstage. “Dale no. I can’t be here for this. Have your fun without me.” Tossing the clipboard to Scarlet, he adds, “And try not to die.”

With a shrug, Will carries on alone as, from the other side of the stage, a dark shadow looms. “Friar Tuck once described him thus:

He is a devil among men, is what he is. […] One of those unknown mercenary sorts who appear out of the blue wherever there are men with riches and motive enough to pay their blood money. He has been Sheriff Swanton’s ruthless right hand the greater part of this past year, dubiously knighted and set loose to do the unethical and, often enough, unlawful filthy work with which His Lordship of Nottinghamshire would not soil his hands, in addition to his primary assignment.

“Welcome, Sir Guy!” he greets the figure stalking toward the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – why the long face?”

Gisborne regards him through the eye hollows of his masking hood, fashioned from the dark hide of a horse head. He says, his voice a frigid growl, “Is that supposed to be funny?”

“A joke, yes. Funny, to me. In all seriousness, though, what’s with the getup?”

“It’s a signature,” says Gisborne, dropping into his seat with the deadly grace of a panther’s pounce. “One designed to disquiet. Fear is a valuable tool.”

“And one you wield well,” says Will, with a glance toward where his minstrel partner vanished. “So, you’re the Sheriff’s dirty business guy. How’d you land the gig?”

Gisborne fingers the hilt of his sword. “It came to my attention that he was having difficulty keeping certain of his jurisdiction’s troublemakers in check. I offered my services. The rest will be history, once I’ve completed my task.”

“The main of that task being?”

“The death of Robin Hood, and all his so-called Merry Men.” His disconcerting gaze holds Will. “You wouldn’t know where I could find any of them, would you?”

“Not a one,” Will squeaks brightly.

“Very odd. I’m told they have a band member called Will Scarlet.”

“Weird. Also weird: Nobody seems to know a darn thing about your backstory. Give us a tidbit. Any fun childhood facts?”

The gleam of his eyes darkens and returns in a slow blink. “I was born of necessity.”

“Tell her hello for me. Any hobbies?”

“Doling out justice.”

“Oh, fun! Robin’s all into justice, too. Rumor has it. No way I’d know personally. Y’ever think you two could be friends?”

“I make no friends of outlaws.”

“Only of Sheriffs who hire you to step outside the law on their behalf?”

Gisborne scoffs. “I am not Swanton’s friend. I am his teeth.”

“How ‘bout his minstrel?” Will inquires. “What’s your opinion of Allyn-a-Dale?”

“Small,” Gisborne says tersely. “Though my instinct says he’s larger than he seems. Swanton ought not be so quick to depend on him.”

“Oh yeah, I’m sure you’re by far the more trustworthy. Speaking of things you can count on, it’s time for my final question! Tell me, Sir Guy, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” His smile glitters with its proximity to danger. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“Danielle’s secret?” says Gisborne, rising from his seat. “She fancies herself one snap away from villainy, but she’s far too tangled up in her ideas of what she should be to ever become what she’d have to be. One snap alone wouldn’t do it. She would need to employ the likes of me to cut through to her potential. And I don’t see that happening.”

“Probably for the world’s best,” Will supposes – not that Gisborne’s likely to hear, having already prowled off the stage. “Ho, Allyn! The coast is clear. How ‘bout the word from our sponsor?”

Allyn’s head pokes cautiously out of the wings. “Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” he says, “is brought to you by The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 3)’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now, both to buy and to win in this Goodreads giveaway!

Legend cover 02, frontLong ago: Hailed as heroes, killed as criminals, an extraordinary band of outlaws met their end in Sherwood Forest – all except the four who were supernaturally saved, and the one who did not exist. …Not yet.

Now: With Avalon Faire’s living legends finally free to move between the realms of magic and modernity, there’s no dream too fantastic to reach – including that kept alive by a secret society, awaiting only the right time, and the right minstrel, to rewrite history.

Just when the future seems brightest, the Merry Men find themselves thrust into the past, facing a second chance at the lives they might have lived … or the death they might not have the luck to cheat twice. For the otherworldly Allyn-a-Dale, it’s all in a day’s destiny. For an already struggling Will Scarlet, it’s a nightmare that may prove black enough to break him. And for the whole of the band, it’s anyone’s guess whether courage, cunning, and camaraderie can win out against their most infamous enemies: The Sheriff of Nottingham, Sir Guy of Gisborne, and – for once in eternity – Time.

“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says. “Thanks to you, too, Sir Guy! 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!”

A Bit of Beauty in the Midst of My Mess

I could be posting about the massive transitions going down in my life, these days. Or I could finally get around to posting the [currently half-written] call-out review I promised back in my Printer’s Row recap. Or I could try to ignore all these sources of stress and do that one thing I actually enjoy: Sharing stuff about my characters. :DDD

C’mon, I gotta go with that one. I found a meme and everything!

Beautiful People Meme

How the Beautiful People meme works, according to Cait @ Paper Fury:

If you’ve never joined in before, THERE ARE NO RULES!! Haha, just kidding. There are rules which basically include (a) link back to this post, (b) include the blog button somewhere in your post, and (c) consider life as a werewolf.

Done, done, and… wow, as life-altering disorders go, lycanthropy would probably not be the worst.

Anyhow, there are character questions to answer! And I hope y’all have been good little DEShipley fans and read Outlaws of Avalon 2, because I’m giving the spotlight to one of the new residents of Avalon Faire, Loren McCaughley, circa right before Book 3 opens.

So Loren, if I may…

What are they addicted to/can’t live without?

“Robin Hood books,” she confesses. “It’s actually horrible. Put a new tale in my line of vision (or an old tale I’ve read a zillion times), and all is lost – most notably, my sense of time and productivity.”

Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character.

“I’ll handle this one,” Marion Hood volunteers, because gal pal privileges. “Positives: Unapologetic sense of self, good work ethic when it comes to her areas of interest – (you should see her progress in lute and quarterstaff!) – and, as all Merry Men must be, she’s a jolly team player. Hmm, as for what I’ve observed of the negative side… Has a tendency to let problems go farther than she should before properly addressing them with the appropriate party. Views the world through a bit of a self-centered lens, on the whole. And, well, she’s an actor. You know how they are.”

Loren snorts. “Says she who’s spent the last 30-some summers doing what, now?”

“Um, playing Maid Marion?” she laughs. “I’d hardly call that acting.”

“A Faire point.”

(Seeing what Loren did there, Marion throws up the finger guns.)

Are they holding onto something they should get rid of?

Loren shrugs. “Maybe the odd delusional fantasy or two. But come on, I’m already living in a hidden Faerie land, married to a superhuman from another dimension. Why shouldn’t I someday get the chance to rob somebody on the forest highway, too? Apart from the law, which would obviously be outside the point.”

If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where do they fall on the scale?

“Where does an organized semi-mess fall? I’ll take a 6.”

What most frustrates them about the world they live in?

“Do you know how hard it is to not tell my sister that I hang out with the actual Robin Hood?!”

How would they dress for a night out? How would they dress for a night in?

“Well I mean, that depends on the venue. First non-date with Allyn versus first date-for-realsies – totally different looks for totally different destinations. But in general, probably dark jeans (or jeggings, let’s not pretend), shoes with some shine to ‘em, a flowy top, and moderate bling. If we’re not leaving the house, I vote jammie bottoms and nerdy tees.”

How many shoes do they own, and what kind?

“A few dressy flats, some basic sneakers. WAY too many boots. Same with the sandals.”

Do they have any pets? What pet do they WISH they had?

“No pets, though at this point, I’d take a unicorn.”

Legend proofIs there something or someone that they resent? Why and what happened?

“Ugh. Probably. But according to Marion, I’m not likely ready to deal with it. We’ll see if anything explodes in Book 3.”

What’s usually in their fridge or pantry?

“Takeout leftovers. I am here for reheated whatever, so long as somebody else made it. The kitchen is not my domain.”

*

Thank you, Loren! (And Marion, briefly. ;D) And for the readers currently going, “Man, I really gotta get caught up on the Outlaws books,” you’re not wrong! Only two months ‘til the trilogy concludes with “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”. Which means, oh boy, I better get crackin’ on sweeping through my proof copy. …in addition to everything else on my plate. I’ll keep you guys informed once I scrape together the wherewithal. Ciao for now!

Legends and Lore[n] (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“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.”

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

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 wizardly employer, Merlin, once described her thus:

McCaughley. Corsets McCaughley, I think of her, to keep her straight with her sister, a jester. But her proper name is Loren. Loren Elaine. … This will be her second year at the Faire. Signed up in the middle of last season to help a short-staffed shop; had the time of her life, so she told me; and the rest is history on my hard drive, somewhere.

“Welcome, Loren!” Will greets the young woman now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – what makes you think you’re good enough for my Allyn?”

Loren’s reactive noise is laugh-like, incredulous. Her scrunched-up expression sends one brow on the rise. “What are you, his mother?”

“Nope. Just his best friend 5ever.”

“I see. Well, if by good enough for him, you mean good enough to play his lady love in a Renaissance Faire skit, the panel of judges at my audition apparently thought so well of me.”

“In that case, congrats. Would it be fair to describe the role as your dream job? (Since, y’know, your book’s summary straight-up describes it that way.)”

A more genuine laugh-sound. “More or less. I mean, technically, I just wanted to be an actual Merry Man, but this is the closest I’ve gotten to that, so yeah – we’ll call that dream-living.”

Eyes narrowed into a pseudo-intellectual regard, Will inquires, “What is it about the Robin Hood mythos that so deeply appeals to you?”

A tuneless whistle sends a stray strand of hair flying before she brushes it back with the rest of her glossy dark ponytail. “Who even knows what set it off? One day I’m reading the stories in grade school, the next my soul’s begging me to run away to Sherwood. Maybe it’s that fairytale forest setting, of the thrill of stave fights and archery, or the minstrel’s music, or the daring robberies, laughing all the way out of Nottingham’s treasury… You all just make the outlaw life seem so much fun, you know? Ha – ‘you all.’” An amused shake of the head. “As if you’re anything nearer to the real thing than I am.”

“Yeah…” Will Scarlet smiles languidly into the camera. “As if. Did you figure going into the audition that you had the gig in the bag?”

Not Loren’s actual headshot – but wow, stupid close!
Not Loren’s actual headshot – but wow, stupid close!

“Oh, zounds, no. For all I knew, they were looking for a Type, and why would I assume I fit it? Just because the BBC included Anjali Jay among their Merry Men, didn’t mean the Faire would automatically be like, ‘So, for Allyn’s bride, yeah, let’s go Indian. Or at least half that. And make her plus-sized.’ Vexing but true, that’s just not the usual go-to.”

“And yet,” Will observes, “here you are.”

“Here I am,” Loren agrees, smiling broadly. “Talent triumphs. Love overcomes. What a time to be alive.”

“Talking of time, and ways to pass it: When not geeking out over your faux beau and co., your hobbies include…?”

“A bunch of other geeky stuff,” Loren admits. “I’m just that crowd. Theatre, dated music, classic lit… Getting dragged to comic stores and cons by my kid sister, listening to my ex make love to Shakespeare…”

Will sits bolt upright. “Your boyfriend left you for Shakespeare?!”

Loren cracks up. “Maybe would’ve if he could’ve, but no.”

“Oh, well. Guess we’ll have to look elsewhere for scandal. Tell me, what is our author Danielle E. Shipley’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret? Or would you rather kiss me? Bearing in mind,” he adds, “that I am Will Scarlet, and therefore a Merry Man, and therefore you’ve basically been waiting to kiss me your whole life, right?”

Loren’s dart-about gaze suggests a search for escape routes. “Um…”

“I’ll do it!” a voice calls out from the audience. “Take me, Will! I love you!”

Loren squints past the lights. “My sister’s here?? Janey, sit down. You’re not—”

“Aw, let her up,” says Will, grinning brightly. “It’s all within the spirit of the show, if not the law’s letter. Lay one on me, Janes!”

An albino-blond teen barrels down the aisle and onto the stage, taking a flying leap into Will’s waiting arms. They kiss like a rom-com’s happy ending, complete with a flamboyant twirl.

“Thespians,” says Loren, eyes rolling to the rafters. “Allyn, what’s the word from your sponsor?”

Cheeks and ears gone abruptly pink, Allyn pronounces, “Today’s Kiss & Tell segment is brought to you by The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now!

marriage-cover-final-front

There’s more than Fey magic in the air as Avalon Faire prepares for another summer’s performance. This time the show stars Allyn-a-Dale in his role from stories of old: A minstrel with a forbidden romance in need of a little outlaw intervention. Alas, eternal life imitates art as Allyn finds himself slipping heart-first into ill-advised infatuation with an Outsider – the Robin Hood fangirl who’s landed her dream job as the Merry Minstrel’s wife.

As new love blooms, an old love festers, the scarring shadow of Allyn’s dead father threatening to devastate the young minstrel’s hard-won harmony. And elsewhere on the undying isle, the cracks of immortality are beginning to show. Caught between the mysterious meddling of Morganne le Fey and the wild schemes of Will Scarlet, it’s up to Sherwood’s outlaws to navigate past and future, legend and prophecy, treachery and passion, before Avalon is torn apart from the inside out.

“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says. “Thanks to you, too, McCaughley girls! 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!”

Babelin to the Bone (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“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.”

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logo

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, “One of her authors, Tirzah Duncan, described her thus:

What does a pretty 1600s German girl, burned at the stake on false charges of necromancy, have in common with a jaded Chicagoan telemarketer? Only the bare bones. Babelin has changed a lot, surviving the centuries as an animate skeleton, but one thing that’s stuck with her is a firm dislike for the death magic that claimed her.

“Welcome, Babelin!” Will greets the smartly-dressed skeleton now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – what does it feel like, being nothing but bones?”

“Physically? A bit dull. Some of my senses are gone, some of them are dimmed, and just two – sight and hearing – are completely intact. I’m capable of less pain, which is nice, but I do sometimes miss the vivid sensations and flavors I remember from my full-bodied life. Of course, I’ve probably romanticized them, over the centuries.”

“Nostalgia is kind,” Will agrees. “Certainly more so than the folks who lit you on fire, back in the day. Would you say the charge that got you executed was entirely unfounded, or did you give any reason to believe that you were in fact a practitioner of the dark arts?”

“As unfounded as were most flying around at the time. Frightened people don’t even need a reason, and I gave them this one: I was pretty. I turned people on and I turned them down, so there were enough jealous and disgruntled folk about who wanted badly to suspect me of something. Ah, humans. We’ve been to the moon, but we haven’t changed.”

“Such is life – eternal and otherwise. Speaking of: Unlike other immortals of my acquaintance, you’ve actually lived through and engaged with all those centuries between your birth and now. Worked in a decent amount of international travel, too. Of them all, which has been your favorite time and place, and why?”

skull-selfie
As seen on the “Dark Siren”-related Pinterest board, “Bones, Souls, and Hellgates”

Thin gloved fingers lace together. “Hmmn. That’s very relative. Modernity has afforded me the opportunity to communicate and connect with people from a place of anonymity— well, hah, sometimes I have an actual selfie as my icon, but no one assumes it’s actually me. It’s nice to just be taken as a human without having to work through layers of prejudice. Place, though – everywhere has its charms and its repelling factors. Most precious to me have been those times and places where I’ve actually made good friends. There was a washerwoman in London who took it upon herself to scrub me back to whiteness whenever I was looking dingy. She didn’t have a lot to give, but she had soaps and rags, and that was how she knew to reach out to me. Honestly, I didn’t much value cleanliness at the time, but I did value her valuing me.”

“Aww, sweet of her!” Will delights. “Gotta love the good eggs of the world. But I’ve heard rumors there’s a bad one in the area – a dangerous new necromancer, possibly planning something big. Those of us living under the protection of an isle full of Faeries and a wizard may have less to fear than others, but what safety tips have you got for the general public?”

She lets out a whistling breath through her teeth. “I guess the only thing I can suggest is the advice I should follow, myself: educate yourself. There’s a lot of benign necromantic activity in the world, and knowing the difference between simply arcane arts and truly dark arts could save souls.”

“Good to know. And of course we all know what’s coming next: Tell me, what is the biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret involving your co-authors, Tirzah Duncan and Danielle E. Shipley?” A skull-like grin. “Or would you rather kiss me?

The skull tilts. “You know, it’s been a long time since anyone’s offered. Bring it on – no tongue, though.”

“Fair’s fair,” Will laughs, and smooches her full on the… well, teeth. After a friendly “boop” for her nose [cavity], he calls back, “Allyn, how ‘bout a word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “was brought to you by Tirzah Duncan and Danielle E. Shipley’s ‘The Dark Siren’, part of the Arcane Arts Anthology – out now as an e-book, paperbacks coming soon!

arcane-arts-cover

Necromancy killed her body, and necromancy saved her soul. Now all this living skeleton wants is for necromancy to leave her the hell alone. But with a disembodied child-spirit hanging around like a too-catchy tune, and a dread dark-artist preparing to sing the world into its final unrest, our heroine’s left with only one real option: Face the music.

“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says. “Thanks to you, too, Babelin! 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!”