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.

sunshine-blogger-graphic

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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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?”

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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

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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!

An Ask from the Past

So I’m scrolling my current blog post document, looking for inspiration re: what to write here next, when I come across this list of questions, pasted in from who-knows-where, who-knows-when. Best guess, a fellow blogger of the book-loving variety shared them in a post of their own, once upon a time, and Long Ago Me thought it might someday be fun to post my answers.

Well, someday may as well have come, so let’s see what Much Later Me has to say for myself!

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How old are you? – About an age of Middle Earth older than I was when I first saved these questions. So, almost 30.

What book are you reading? – As of this post’s drafting, I’m a few chapters into “Boy, Snow, Bird” by Helen Oyeyemi, because I was feeling spontaneous at the library and wanted a random something to supplement my mostly YA reading diet.

What are you wearing? – My work shirt (faded denim blue), work pants (khaki), work shoes (black, non-slip), padded teal vest gifted by a fellow Majestic Hotel employee (for purposes of insulation against the arctic expedition that is the storeroom freezer). Also my red headphones, cuz music.

OTP? (One True Pairing; or the people you most want to see in a [usually romantic] relationship whether they are paired together in the book or not) – I’m more of a BROTP kinda gal; best friendship’s where it’s at for me. Sherlock Homes and John Watson. Robin Hood and Little John. More specific to my own spin on that legend, Will Scarlet and Allyn-a-Dale. But if it must be romance… it would probably be that one as-yet-unpublished character of mine and that other as-yet-unpublished character of my writer bestie’s, because non-canonical relationships between our respective creative properties is just how we roll.

Going outside being active or staying in and reading a book? – You are actually trying to get me to choose between walking the wonder-paths of Yosemite and engaging in a good story? Rude and wrong.

What is the last book you read?“Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves”, edited by Anna Angel. ‘Twas an anthology, so naturally I found some short stories better/more engaging than others. *shrug* I’d overall call it okay.

What is the book you’re going to read next? – Either “Violet and Claire” by Francesca Lia Block or “The Near Witch” by Victoria Schwab, since those are the other two library books I brought up with me from Fresno this week. Here’s hoping they’re both good!

Ebooks – yes or no? – 15 times out of 10, I’d rather have a paper book.

Where do you prefer to read? – Just about anywhere NOT COLD will do; the less background humanity noise, the better.

Who is the last person you tweeted? – Direct message? Tirzah Duncan. Otherwise, I think it was a reply to one of the folks behind Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids.

Whose blog did you look at last? – I have no memory of this. I’m so behind on all the blog posts stacked up in my inbox, I can’t even laugh. Odds are, though, that it’s between Paper Fury, The Pixie Chronicles, The Story Sponge, and Nothing By The Book.

Dark Pirate Lord
My look for dark throne occupation = decided, thanks to an afternoon at the Fresno Pirate Festival.

What do you do when someone tells you reading is boring? – Add them to the execution list for once I am become your Dark Lord.

Who is the last author you spoke to? – I actually talk to myself a lot… though not as much as it looks like! (The voices are frequently characters’.)

Who is your all-time favorite book character? – Um… *spins roulette wheel* … Cabeswater.

What is your preferred drink whilst reading? – Tea is my preferred drink, full stop.

If you hated reading, what would you be doing instead? – Living a completely different life. Perhaps under a different name, since actors are often known to change theirs. Catch me on the big screen, how ‘bout dat.

How many bookshelves / bookcases do you have? – Back at my parents’ house? My room had four. Fortunately (and not), that’s also where most of my books still remain. But once I’ve got my own place (as opposed to a Yosemite tent-cabin), book space will be a definite priority!

Insta-love: yes or no? – In the words Denebdeor’s young royals in “The Sun’s Rival”:

Sun's Rival Cover, front

“But what about you, Lar?” asked Ionquin. “You’re just the age for swooning in corridors and losing your eyesight to a fellow’s face over dinner. Have either of them caught your fancy yet?”

“Well…” Laraspur hedged. “It’s rather too early to say, isn’t it? I mean, I’ve only first heard of them a few hours ago.”

“What does that matter?” asked Liliavaine. “Do the words ‘love at first sight’ mean nothing to you?”

“It’s a very pretty phrase, but I don’t know how much it has to do with reality. I’m not saying one need take the Gladiolyn approach and dawdle over falling in love for a year or more. Still, I should think it would take more than just a day.”

“Well, what about a fortnight?” said Ionquin, for thus was the length of time agreed upon between the resident and visiting monarchs that the Welkens might stay on at Denebdeor’s castle before all parties involved reassessed the courtship’s progress.

“A fortnight seems a more reasonable amount of time,” said Laraspur, nodding.

Favorite author? – Maggie Stiefvater, yo.

What is the number-one book on your wishlist?“Vengeful” by V.E. Schwab. Its predecessor was so good. I want the sequel two years ago.

Do you prefer books with female or male protagonists? – I’m good reading either or both. It’s not who the story’s about, it’s how it’s told.

Which is your favorite book-to-film adaption? – The “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. …Although, “Aladdin” first rose to prominence in “1001 Nights”, so now I don’t even know what to say.

What is the last song you listened to? – The finale from the musical “Waitress”. Just finished listening to the whole cast recording for the first time, actually, since it occurred to me that I’d only ever heard the abbreviated Sara Bareilles version. It all makes a gal wish she could just watch the full show onstage.

Which do you enjoy reading more – negative reviews or positive reviews? – Reviews with good use of punctuation.

Who are you going to tag? – Ohhh, this was a tagging game? I might have known. Well, I could play by those rules. Or I could cast my vote for anarchy (spoiler: We’re going with that) and decree that YOU can consider yourself tagged, and YOU can consider yourself tagged… EVERYONE can consider themselves tagged!

Answer all the questions on your own blog, or pick and choose a few to answer in this post’s comments.

Or intend to get around to answering someday, only to look up and realize it’s 2023. It’s all valid. X)

“Q and A”

Fun news, Ever On Wordians: I was extended the honor of writing a guest post for a fellow blogger! (A brief pause whilst I indulge in some excitement-induced hand-clapping.)

In recognition of my knack of harnessing authorial schizophrenia to further my creative ends, Andrea S. Michaels requested a piece on how to engage in meaningful dialogue with one’s fictional characters. It was my pleasure (along with my minstrel’s, my fox’s, my Dream World Deliverer’s, and my tailor’s) to oblige. Hop on over to Andrea’s blog via this lovely little link, and be sure to give my host some love while you’re in the neighborhood. (:

Edit: Should the day ever come that the lovely little link fails (Aragorn insists that it is not this day, but it could be that he’s referring to something else), I’ve included the full “Q and A” piece below. Enjoy!

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“Oh, Author…” (This generally said with a pitying sigh, or perhaps merely a condescending headshake, on the part of my minstrel marvel, Gant-o’-the-Lute.) “Wherever would you be without me?”

I usually try to get around answering that question, on the grounds that the asker’s ego doesn’t need the boost. But the fact is, my writing truly would be worth little without the characters who live the books and, thereby, give them life. The characters make the story, and the author makes the characters (…with “the usual exception” of Gant-o’-the-Lute who, I swear, half-created himself). It is imperative, then, that We the Authors of the World, in Order to form a more-perfect-than-not work of Fiction, do our darnedest to make our characters seem real.

“What’s real in your world about a talking, five-foot-five, practically primatial wild fox in a top hat?” questions Glyph, with a lazy swish of his bright, bushy tail.

Well, of course I didn’t mean “real” in the “being or occurring in fact or actuality” sense. We’re talking fiction; reality need have little place here, but realness is requisite. Therefore, the characters must come across as the “genuine and authentic” sort of real to the readers, which is easiest done when they feel that sort of real to their authors.

So what do you do when you just can’t seem to get a sense of who your characters are? When their innermost hearts are closed to you? When you have no idea how they would react to that wild plot point you plan to throw at them in Chapter Seven because you don’t know what makes them tic? That’s when it’s time for a little Q and A; an author/character chitchat.

“An interrogation under a hot bulb, with everyone and their secondary antagonist sniggering from the other side of the two-way mirror,” grumbles Bruno, because he’s a Mr. Sunshine type o’ teen, like that.

As Bruno’s grousing demonstrates, not every character will be eager to bare their souls to you. Something broad and open-ended like “So, tell me about yourself” may not yield the sort information you were hoping to get. For your more reluctant charries, I would recommend you take a more organized approach. Get together a list of specific questions, and tackle them one by one in a thorough interview. My preferred resource? What I call The Anything and Everything Character Questionnaire.

“…Of doom,” my tailor Edgwyn adds, in the laughing, extra-deep version of his otherwise baritone voice that signifies he’s looking to amuse.

It’s not actually meant to be doomful (despite what Bruno would have you believe) – although, I admit, some questions can be inherently awkward, or else lead unexpectedly to some pretty painful stuff. I’ve had characters break down crying mid-quiz, or storm off in a rage that only a few hours’ timeout could lessen. When you’re talking about anything and everything from their first memories, to their sense of morals, to their love life, you really never know what’s going to come up. And that’s the beauty of it: Just letting your characters talk, and learning what their words reveal.

You could unearth bits of backstory you’d never thought to imagine (for example, extracted from Glyph’s turn at the questionnaire):

Most Prized Possession and Why: It’s bound to be that hat again.

“Because it’s important,” Glyph says. “It was to be my first ever hat, and the payment the spider wanted for it was a damselfly, because her webs had never once caught a damselfly, and she’d grown terribly curious about how one would taste. So I set out to catch the required damselfly, and found one being pursued by a dragonfly. And I decided that I would rather save the damselfly, and kill the dragonfly, and give it to the spider instead. So I did, and she was most excited (because, of course, dragonflies are bigger than damselflies), so I got my hat, and I got Jewel.” (His damselfly sidekick.) “A very good day.”

You could discover secret desires that are a fundamental part of the character’s makeup (e.g., from Bruno’s session):

If Granted One Wish, What Would it Be and Why: “Oh, boy, I get a wish,” he says with lackluster glee. “…I wish that American cheese was actually cheese.”

Or you could watch in amazement as various answers work together in such a way that you’re almost looking at a short story within the dialogue (which would take too much space to illustrate here, so I’ll just hope I’ve managed to build up enough credibility in your eyes that you can take my word for it). And these mini dramas can serve as inspiration for other short stories, or even for new novels. (For goodness’ sake, I hadn’t been planning to write a sequel for my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” until the rich storylines within various Merry Men questionnaires drove me to it!)

Getting to know your characters is one of the best things you can do for your stories. More than that, turning your author/character relationship into one of friendship just makes for a more rewarding experience all around. Isn’t that so, Lute old buddy?

“Oh, absolutely,” he says, tone suggestive of humoring a mental patient.

Ah, well. What’s the life of an author of fiction without a little harmless delusion?