Walking the Imaginary Walk

Hey, guys! Annabelle Iole Gray, here – protagonist from the “Inspired” novels slash author of first, second, and what-feels-like-fifty-seventh drafts of my own books, thank you very much. And today I’m taking the mic on the Overauthor’s* blog to analyze a phenomenon I have not seen discussed nearly enough in writerly circles. …or, like, basically at all.

*(Overauthor. Noun. Definition 1, a cool title I just now coined to refer to an author of an author, e.g. a nonfictional person who has written/created a fictional character that is likewise a writer/creator of fictional characters. Definition 2, Danielle E. Shipley specifically. Definition 3, probably now what Danielle will want to call herself if she ever takes over as her reality’s Dark Lord.)

On the other hand, you’ve got theater circles. In that context, the following is only common: An actor takes on a role – I mean, really embodies it – and it’s not just about speaking the character’s scripted lines, it’s about becoming them head to toe and moving the way they do. …Or the actor just moves the way they always do and gives that signature physicality to the character because, I dunno, that’s what the director was looking for when they cast them, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about!

You see, as a certain stripe of author (do most authors not do this? Am I the weirdo, here? …as usual?), I too find myself moving differently when hosting various persons from the immaterial plane in my material body. Regular Annabelle walks one way while, say, Annabelle-as-Abishan walks another, and Annabelle-as-Lucianíel walks like something else entirely.

To help show you what I mean – since, y’know, I’m not on the same plane of reality as most of this blog’s readers, so you can’t just watch me demonstrate – I have created a little assessment sheet to communicate the character of walks. Consider it a subsection of The Totally In-Depth Author-to-Character Q&A! ® (“Oh, Yes – We Go There” TM). We’ll call this PART 3-AND-A-HALF: Walking the Walk.

(And for those of you who aren’t familiar with my close circle of fictional friends, I’ll include brief introductions for each as we go along.)

<<<>>>

Shan Shoot 01
Danielle as Annabelle as Abishan

Character: Abishan, jungle god of all cats.

Punchiest Verb for His Walk (Stride? Saunter? Sashay?…): After a moment’s search through my head’s thesaurus, he decides upon, “Slink.”

An apt choice, Shan. Yours is a decidedly slinky manner of movement. It’s like every placement of your paw contains a purr. Except for when the verb is ‘stalk’; then the silent sound is a predator’s growl.

Which Body Part Leads the Way? (Chin, Chest, Stomach, Pelvis, Knees, Other…?): In any of his countless feline forms, Shan’s nose and whiskers blaze the trail. In his man form (and when moving via mine)… Huh. Interestingly, he likes to make my hands go first. Reaching out, touching things, claiming territory as he passes through it. Apart from that, he’s got a lot of languid hip action – the closest he can come, through me, to simulating the movement of his tail.

Favored Tempo: “Relaxed,” says Shan. “Bursts of speed are best reserved for a hunt’s final pounce or fleeing threats. Otherwise, why needlessly expend energy?”

So, a fairly standard cat-titude.

Shan wrinkles his face and calls out, “Luc! The puns have started!”

From a distance, Luc sighs. “It was only a matter of time.”

Other Signature Details: When walking as Abishan, my footfalls come softer than when I’m merely me. People (*cough* my sisters *cough*) have complained I’m sneaking up on them, when that was never my intent. I also spend the pauses peppered into his progress leaning and lounging on walls and furniture. …or practically rubbing against a bookcase.

“Because you love bookcases,” Shan points out. “They are your pleasure to own.”

Things that are not my pleasure = when you try to make me lick my hand.

His blink stands in for a shrug. “Agree to disagree on best hygienic practices.”

*

Wilbur Shoot 01
Danielle as Annabelle as Wilbur

Character: Sir Wilbur Lamb, Knight of the Order of the Dove.

Punchiest Verb for His Walk (Stride? Saunter? Sashay?…): Wilbur eyes the options uncertainly. “Do I do other than simply walk?”

Hmm… We could maybe use ‘amble’? That’s defined as ‘an easy gait’ – specifically in reference to a horse, and one could argue you’re the nearest thing to a friendly warhorse we’ve got, around here.

That’s got him laughing. “Wilbur the Friendly Warhorse. I aspire to nothing more.”

Which Body Part Leads the Way? (Chin, Chest, Stomach, Pelvis, Knees, Other…?): A bit shoulder-steered, I’d say. His posture is cousin to a hunch – like he’s prepared to duck under a low doorway or bow in deference at any moment, or quietly bearing the invisible burdens of the populace. And if that doesn’t just describe the kind of person he is and life he leads, what even does?

Favored Tempo: “Composedly swift,” he says. “I like to keep just busy enough that it doesn’t serve to dawdle. Slower than that, and I begin to feel like an aimlessly wandering sheep.”

Other Signature Details: When walking as Wilbur, I will tend to place myself more carefully than I do as myself. I-as-Annabelle bump into basically everything as a matter of course, whereas Wilbur is a bull acutely conscious of the fact that he’s in a china shop, and if caution is enough to prevent it, not a single knickknack shall break on his watch. Also, walking as Wilbur always leaves me further back in line or waiting at crossing points, because his chivalrous instincts dictate that all others ought to move ahead of him. Low-key, I don’t often have the patience to walk as Wilbur in a crowd.

<<<>>>

…Whazat? Oh. The Overauthor has informed me that this post is maxing out on word-count. But let no one despair! We’ll get a look at my other character friends’ walks another time; like, probably next week, if nothing more pressing to blog about comes up in the meantime.

Before we go, I’m curious to know: How do you suppose one would best describe your walk? (Feel free to use my assessment questions as a template!) Do you ever get so into a character that you adopt their mannerisms? Chatter away in the comments!

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!

Jack and the Genre-nauts, Finale: I Saw Three Wishes Sailing In

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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 second Friday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “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 long awaited/despaired-of-ever-happening ‘Jack and the Genre-nauts’ finale: ‘I Saw Three Wishes Sailing In’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a forest of Christmas trees before an icy background, faux snow glittering on the floor. Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb from INSPIRED stand over the dejectedly-kneeling Gant-o’-the-Lute as Loki. Will Scarlet as Jack Snow in the Mad Hatter’s body also stands by, while Hatter’s grinning Shadow dances over the backdrop.]

Sir Wilbur: Well, Annabelle? What do you propose we do with our vanquished Trickster?

Annabelle: That depends. Do we have a way to make sure the Shadow does as we wish instead of running mad?

Will [voiceover]/Shadow [turning somersaults, laughing like a loon ]: Madness-made is what I am! Control the likes of me? Why, you’d just as easy turn back time itself!

Will/Jack: Spoken like a Wonderland riddle. And this body I’m in has a Wonderland mind. A reflective surface, someone – quickly!

Annabelle: Something like this?

[From behind her back, she hefts the mirror taken from the Sheriff’s castle in Steampunk Nottingham.]

Lute/Loki [his crestfallen scowl gone baffled  ]: Where have you been carrying that thing, all this time?

Annabelle: In my back pocket. It’s important to dress comfortably when traveling between imaginary realms; my go-to is jeans made of stretch-credulity denim. But is a mirror really the best plan, Jack? If the Shadow catches sight of his reflection, he’ll return to his host, and there may not be room inside Hatter’s body for his spirit and yours.

Sundial

Will/Jack [straightening from having sketched a sundial in the snow beneath the Shadow ]: Aim not for the Shadow, but downward. What there do you see?

Sir Wilbur: The shadow of a shadow, circling clockwise.

Will/Jack [triumphant ]: And in the mirror, counterclockwise! A widdershins shadow is time turned backward. Shadow of Hatter, you’re now in our power.

Will [voiceover]/Shadow: Well, tweedle-dee-dee, you’re too clever for me. How would you command me, masters?

Annabelle: Gone genie on us, have you? Excellent. Wish one: Bind Loki to my mind, making me his author, and him my character.

Will [voiceover]/Shadow [giggling ]: Granted!

Lute/Loki [shooting to his feet ]: WHAT! How dare you?! I am a god!

Sir Wilbur: And as fictional gods go, you wouldn’t be her first. We’ll introduce you to the abishan, sometime.

Lute/Loki [teeth grinding ]: Why would you do this to me? After all else of which you’ve robbed me, why my freedom, too?

Annabelle: Oh, hush, it’s not as bad as all that. My characters get plenty long leashes, believe me. But keeping you tethered to a proper story, as opposed to this nonsense we’ve been living for twenty-some acts, will guard against your mischief taking down too many worlds. You want Ragnarok? Fine. But contained in a book. [smiling kindly ] I’ll even be sure to work in Fenrir. You’ll get your son, and he’ll get his story, just like I promised him.

Lute/Loki [anger cooling ]: Well. If I am to be your prisoner, I suppose it could be under worse conditions. Very well, author. I am yours. [smirking ] Good luck to your plots, having to keep pace with me.

Will/Jack [stage-muttering ]: If Danielle could handle Austeryn in “Surrogate Sea”, I’m sure Annabelle will get by. [“aloud” ] Now, Shadow, for a second wish: Return to us my rightful body, and set my spirit within it.

Will [voiceover]/Shadow: Granted!

[The Shadow spins in a cyclone of smoke, and when the obscuring darkness clears, Will Scarlet has fallen to the floor, but there stands Allyn-a-Dale.]

Sir Wilbur: Jack! You’re really back!

Allyn/Jack: That I am, and of it glad! A body’s a body, more or less, but how I’ve missed my mind. I don’t know how Hatter lives with himself.

Annabelle: That’s the wonder of a man of Wonderland. Speaking of, time for wish number three. [holds mirror higher ] Hey, Shadow! Look here!

[With a squeal of delight at the sight of its own self, the Shadow flies right into the glass. No sooner has it disappeared and Annabelle set it down, propped up against a tree, than Will Scarlet jumps up from the floor.]

Will/Hatter: End of the line!

Everyone else: Huh??

Will/Hatter [arms spread wide ]: We’re here, Jack: The Fairytale Forest’s North Pole. I told you I’d get you back home!

Allyn/Jack: Why… so you did. And so you have. Not the route I’d have taken, but nevertheless. Thank you, Artifice Cheshirecott.

Will/Hatter [bowing with a sweep of the hat ]: More than welcome, Jack Snow. Now, I’m bound for Wonderland, a big bowl of homemade ice cream, and a nice long nap. All very fun to play the travel guide, but real talk: Keeping you kids entertained on the road is exhausting. So long, everyone! Watch out for rabbit holes!

[With that and a wink, he steps through the looking glass and is gone.]

[The curtain falls.]

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Tirzah Duncan,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘homemade ice cream’ and ‘widdershins’.”

“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!”

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like World’s End (Jack and the Genre-nauts Act 23)

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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 second Friday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “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: ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like World’s End’!”

<<<>>>

Best_Nature_www.laba.ws

[The curtain rises on a backdrop of fields of ice. A sign atop a candy-cane-striped post reads “North Pole, 0.5 miles”, pointing toward the copse of Christmas trees on the stage’s opposite side. Entering from the wings are Gant-o’-the-Lute as Loki and Allyn-a-Dale as Fenrir, the Antichristmas Wolf in Jack Snow’s body.]

Lute/Loki [voice forbidding, smile stretched wide ]: Now’s the day, an’ now’s the hour;

See the Antichristmas lour,

And the Trickster’s rise to power:

Ragnarok unleashed!

Allyn/Fenrir: A stirring preamble, Father.

Lute/Loki: Like it? Modeled it after some poem or another by that Scot fellow, Burns.

Allyn/Fenrir [lips curled back in a wolfish grin ]: Fitting, that. For presently, this frozen world will blaze.

[Meanwhile, among the Christmas trees, out peek Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb from INSPIRED, along with Will Scarlet as Jack Snow in the Mad Hatter’s body.]

Annabelle [stage whispering ]: This is it. The final boss battle. Sonic vs. Robotnik. Link vs. Demon Lord Ganon. Jack Snow vs. Antichristmas Beast/Wolf/son of Loki.

Will/Jack [turning to Annabelle in aggravation ]: What are you on about?

Annabelle [mumbling ]: Video game stuff. Sorry, I saw parallels.

Sir Wilbur: Never mind it, Jack. What’s the plan?

Will/Jack: Plan? I fear that’s a bit beyond me, at the moment. I’m Jack Snow in spirit, but Hatter in the head. What does his mad mind know of battle strategy?

Annabelle: Does this mean we’re screwed?

Sir Wilbur: It’s beginning to look like it. See there!

[The other side of the stage, Allyn has raised his arms high. Head thrown back, he speaks in a howling chant.]

Allyn/Fenrir: In the name of all evil things anti-Christmas,

I summon the fire of sky!

Flaming color, rain down ruin!

Raze and blaze, yon Northern Lights!

[A flickering green glow appears above, glowing redder the lower it descends. Lute’s cruel laugh has scarcely begun gaining momentum when Will plunges out of the trees, hand thrust up toward the lights.]

Will/Jack [rapidly, but with authority ]: Light of North’s nocturnal noon,

Ruin you shall not rain.

Heatless fire, arctic blaze,

In the sky remain.

[The reddening lights halt, then rise again, their harmless green hue returning.]

Allyn/Fenrir [with a snarling sneer ]: Counter rhymes, is it? That’s a game we could be at all day, Santa Claus. Unless you mean to sing my doom with carols as you did before?

Will/Jack: That depends. Would it work?

Lute/Loki [wagging a finger ]: Not so easy as that. Children of the Trickster were never fated to die the same way twice. It will take more than the power contained in a song to kill him. More than the power of Christmas itself!

Will/Jack [thoughtful, sober ]: Possibly so. But what of the power behind Christmas?

Allyn/Fenrir [eyes narrow ]: What do you mean?

Will/Jack [advancing ]: The first and greatest Christmas gift. A baby born to die. A saving sacrifice. This do I wield against you, Antichristmas: The sacrifice, made in the truest Christmas spirit, of Artifice Cheshirecott – a mad hatter who so loved his lost friend that he gave up his body to put an end to your wickedness one more time.

Allyn/Fenrir [ashen and wide-eyed ]: No… [clutches throat, choking and gagging ] Nooo…!

Lute/Loki: Fenrir! Son!

[But it’s too late. Allyn crumples to the ground, a thick haze of steam rising up around him. When the vapor clears, his body is gone. Dropping to his knees, Lute lets loose a shriek of anguish.]

Lute/Loki: A thousand curses upon you, Jack Snow! All I wanted for Christmas was vengeance! To destroy the legacy of the one who killed my son!

Will/Jack: Unfortunately, Loki, you’ve been a very naughty god this year. For that, you get the Shadow, black as coal. [arm raised skyward again, he calls out ]

Shadow of the hatter mad,

Fly to finish to Fenrir’s dad!

[A formless darkness with manic, cat-like eyes and a wide, crescent moon grin flits over the white backdrop.]

Will [voiceover]/Shadow: Ah, looky – it’s Loki! My own match in mischief! Now, what’s to be done about you?

Annabelle [stepping out of the trees with a noisy “ahem” ]: If it’s all the same to everyone else, I may have a solution.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Kelton de la Cruz and Tirzah Duncan,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘Demon Lord Ganon’ and lyrics from “Scots Wha Hae’ by Robert Burns.”

“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 Second Star to the Right (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 22)

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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 second Friday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “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 Second Star to the Right’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a backdrop of twilight over a jewel-bright lagoon, the vaguely macabre shadow of a rock formation depicted in the distance. Prop trees and ferns suggestive of a jungle frame the stage on both ends, with our players entering stage right – Will Scarlet as the Mad Hatter, and Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb from INSPIRED following, body-switched, right behind.]

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur: This place is lovely! But where exactly is it?

Will/Hatter: No idea, and no clue. But if the Shortcut to Everywhere brought us here, then Jack’s spirit must be, too.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle [peering around, then pointing ]: The only thing obviously suggestive of death is that rocky place, out there. Or am I the only one who thinks it looks basically like a skull?

Nope, not just you. It does.
Nope, not just you. It does.

Voice from Stage Right: Of course it does.

[From the jungle greenery steps a “Stone Kingdom”-era Princess Rosalba of Denebdeor. She wears a fringed dress of sand-colored suede and colorful beadwork, her long hair hanging in a pair of braids before either shoulder and decorated with swan feathers. She bears a scepter-like spear.]

Rosalba [cont. ]: Why else would it bear the name “Skull Rock”?

Will/Hatter: Jack! Is it you?

[Will bounds across the stage, arms flung open for a hug, but an imperious thrust of Rosalba’s empty hand halts him.]

Rosalba: Another move toward me, strange hatted man, and my spear will know your innermost parts. I am Tiger Lily, Princess of Neverland. No one must ever touch me, on pain of death.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur [with a gallant bow ]: Your Highness.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: Neverland! Sure, I’ll buy that. It’s got fairies and Lost Boys, so why not a lost fairytale soul?

Will/Hatter: Not to mention the whole Peter Pan connection.

Rosalba/Tiger Lily [hand placed reverently to heart ]: Ah, brave Peter. Valiant Pan. He is the sun and the moon and the stars. But he has not been seen here for many a moon.

Will/Hatter: That’s all right. It’s not him we’ve come to see. We’re looking for his son, Jack Snow. Or rather, what’s left of him after the Antichristmas Wolf made off in his body. Could you tell us where to find him? We – and the North Pole – would be much in your debt.

Rosalba/Tiger Lily: The sun never says to the moon, “You owe me.” It is nothing for me to show you what you seek. He is there. [points with the spear to a diamond-bright light high on the sky backdrop ] The second evening star to the right.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur: A noble place for so noble a spirit, to be sure. But we cannot afford to let him so remain. Have we your permission to bear him away to his destiny, Your Highness?

Rosalba/Tiger Lily: I rule the land, not the sky. Do what you must, if you can.

Will/Hatter [with a smile-like grimace ]: I can. But it’ll hurt. Apologies, Princess.

[With that, he taps Rosalba on the shoulder. Without hesitation, she rams her spear in and out of his middle. Annabelle and Sir Wilbur cringe, expressions nauseated, while Rosalba stalks away into the jungle with a highly offended air.]

Will/Hatter [voice a raspy grunt and pained giggle ]: Here we go again. [slumps to the ground, smoke billowing from his mouth ]

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: And here’s hoping this works. [turns to the sky, calling out ]

Star light, star bright, second star upon the right:

I wish you may, I wish you might take on the form left open wide.

[The star glows brighter by the moment, sending the smoke of the Shadow hastening away, lest it be by light destroyed. Annabelle and Sir Wilbur turn away from the glare, and just for a blink, the stage is too flooded with light to be seen. When it dims back to normal, the second star is gone, Will stirs on the ground, and Annabelle and Sir Wilbur startle back from one another.]

Annabelle: Hey! You’re you!

Sir Wilbur: As are you!

Will/Hatter [in as Jack Snow-like a voice as you can get without the speaker being actually Allyn-a-Dale ]: Consider that one a freebie for wishing me back to the land of the living. Tannenbaum, but my guts are sore.

Sir Wilbur [helping Will to his feet ]: Hatter’s body had to take a bit of punishment to make room for you.

Annabelle: And of course now his Shadow’s flown off who-knows-where.

Will/Jack: Worrying as that is, the matter will have to keep ‘til later. First things first: There’s Christmas to save.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience member Miranda McNeff,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘lovely’ and ‘the sun never says to the moon, “You owe me”’.”

“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!”

To Hel in a Handbasket (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 21)

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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 second Friday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “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: ‘To Hel in a Handbasket’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on the TARDIS interior set. Will Scarlet as a grim, Doctor-guised Mad Hatter fiddles with the controls at the console, with Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb from INSPIRED standing, body-switched, at his side.]

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: So Loki announces that he and Fenrir the Antichristmas Wolf are gonna kick off Ragnarok, and you tell us to retreat?

Will/Hatter Doctor [jaw tight ]: Nothing for it. Our past selves were due to reach the top of Mount Atlas at any moment. If we’d been caught loitering there when we did, it would have thrown all of time into a paradox that would make Ragnarok look like the end of the world as the ancient Norse know it.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur: Um, yes. That’s what it is.

Will/Hatter Doctor: Nope. It’s the end of Christmas. And that is far worse.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: Okay, so what are doing to stop it? Still fishing around in the past for someone to stop you from getting shot in Steampunk Sherwood, or what?

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur [shaking Annabelle’s head ]: I fear that would do little good. Loki seemed to have all too clear a view of the big picture across time. He manipulated us all into doing as he wished before. He could do it again, rerouting any course we took to bring us right back around to where we started.

Will/Hatter Doctor: Too right, knight. There’s no going back, now – only forward. We’ve got to get to the North Pole ahead of father and wolf. And we’ve got to get its chosen Santa Claus back.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: That won’t be easy if Hel’s got him.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur [surprised ]: I’d gotten the impression his immortal soul was in a holier state than that.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: Mythology, Wilbur. Hel is the Norse goddess of the dead.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur [brightening ]: Oh.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: She’s also Loki’s daughter.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur [moaning ]: Oh.

Hel as depicted by Agnes Olsen via Elfwood.com - http://www.elfwood.com/u/aolson/image/23ae1c50-23ea-11e4-a923-7d0aeb3f012b/hel-also-known-as-hela-norse-goddess-of-the-dead
Hel as depicted by Agnes Olsen via Elfwood.com – http://www.elfwood.com/u/aolson/image/23ae1c50-23ea-11e4-a923-7d0aeb3f012b/hel-also-known-as-hela-norse-goddess-of-the-dead

Will/Hatter Doctor: Nobody freak out. I’ve got a plan.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle [wincing ]: If you don’t want us freaking out, “I’ve got a plan” is really not the thing for you to say, Hatter.

Will/Hatter Doctor: No, really. Step one: I go to the land of the dead. Step two: I have a panic attack, because HELLO, land of the dead! Yikes! Step three: The crisis releases my Shadow, leaving my body wide open for possession. Step four: Jack Snow rides me out of the underworld and to the North Pole, where the wedding of his Christmas spirit and my good looks will beat back Ragnarok, and – callooh, callay! – Christmas will be merry as a Brandybuck.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: What about Hel?

Will/Hatter Doctor: What about her? She only rules the Norse mythological underworld. Jack Snow’s life isn’t mythological – it’s a fairytale. That means his death will be, too.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur: All right, then. Story expert – [turns to Annabelle in his body ] –where do dead fairytale characters go?

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: Oh, heck, they could end up anywhere, or hang around in any form. Plants. Animals. Just plain ghosts. If his body weren’t currently alive and in the Antichristmas’s possession, it would be par for the course for his decapitated head or bones to start talking to us in riddles. I wouldn’t know where to begin looking for him.

Will/Hatter Doctor: So we don’t look. We just find him.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle [glaring ]: Does your madness provide a method for that?

Will/Hatter Doctor: OH, yes! [cranks a lever on the console ] Next stop: The Shortcut to Everywhere!

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘a wedding’ and ‘Brandybuck’.”

“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!”

From Bad to Norse (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 20)

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent

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

“Every second Friday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “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: ‘From Bad to Norse’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on the top of the mountain set, where stands Gant-o’-the-Lute as Loki, masses of clouds heaped like haystacks around him, his shoulders casually bearing the weighted curtain of the sky.]

Lute/Loki: La-di-dum. Ten minutes more of waiting, and my replacement shall arrive.

[At that moment, with a noise like a straining mechanical elephant – or however the Doctor Who fans in the house would describe it – one of the cloud stacks spins around, revealing the blue police box shape of the time/space-traveling TARDIS. Out the door step Will Scarlet as the Mad Hatter in his Doctor getup, author Annabelle Gray from INSPIRED in the body of her character, Sir Wilbur Lamb, and Sir Wilbur in the body of Annabelle.]

Lute/Loki [brows raised ]: You’re early.

Will/Hatter Doctor: A Time Lord is never early, Loki, nor is he late. He arrives precisely when he means to. More or less. Depends how well he input the coordinates, and the TARDIS’s level of cooperation, phases of the universe’s various moons…

Lute/Loki: “Loki”, is it? Not “Atlas”? So, you’re from the future. [unperturbed grin ] Just how far ahead have you seen?

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: We stepped back in time about when we realized Jack Snow’s spirit is in some realm of the dead, with his body bearing the Antichristmas Beast toward the probable ruination of Christmas.

Lute/Loki [grin widening ]: My, oh, my. And what brings you back here?

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur: We need someone to go the point just before the Antichristmas Beast shoots Hatter and forestall its happening, thereby preventing the release of Hatter’s Shadow and the body-switching disaster it caused.

Lute/Loki: And you come in the hope that this needed someone is me? That I shall abandon all to play fairy godmother by setting right your wrongs? Why in the world would I do that?

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: Well, you helped us before. …or, erm, will help us later.

Lute/Loki [amused ]: Help you? By shooting down the Antichristmas’s airship before he can kill you? Or do you refer to when I release Hatter from his entrapment under the sky? Odd that you should call that help, when it all leads to the very event you wish me to counteract.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur [frowning ]: Are we then to understand that you wished for this to happen?

Lute/Loki: Mortals understand the ways of a god? I’ve no expectation of that. But yes, this is all of my deliberate doing.

Will/Hatter Doctor [expression pained ]: But why? Why would you kill Jack?

Lute/Loki: You killed Jack, Wonderlander, because you are mad. And I wielded that madness because we had need of it.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur: “We”?

Lute/Loki [casting the sky from his shoulders ]: The revolutionaries! The ushers of the end times! The great Antichristmas Wolf and I!

Will/Hatter Doctor: Wait – Antichristmas Wolf? Look who’s talking madness now. What kind of wolf has horns?

Lute/Loki [smiling terribly ]: The kind that’s the child of a god.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle [with a gasp ]: The wolf son of Loki. That would make the Antichristmas Beast—

Lute/Loki [exultant ]: The mighty Fenrir. And together, we shall bring Ragnarok to the North Pole.

Awwwww, snap… (Depiction of Fenrir shared via Hallowing on deviantART - http://hallowing.deviantart.com/art/Fenrir-Concept-3-205812474
Awwwww, snap… (Depiction of Fenrir shared via Hallowing on deviantART)

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Kelton de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘fairy godmother’ and ‘revolutionaries’.”

“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!”