Things That Go Bang in the Woods (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 15)

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: ‘Things That Go Bang in the Woods’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a woodland scene. Crouched before the trees center stage, as if in hiding, are Will Scarlet as the Mad Hatter and Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow, both in Steampunk Merry Men garb.]

Allyn/Jack: Any sign of them?

Will/Hatter: No, but have patience. Loki said he’d bring the Antichristmas Beast and the others right to us.

Allyn/Jack: I’ve yet to understand why we’ve decided to trust a trickster god.

Will/Hatter: Maybe we’re just religious like that.

[Rather than reply, Allyn cocks his ear toward some soft sound, steadily growing into quite the scream-filled racket.]

Allyn/Jack: What in the world is that?

Will/Hatter [eyebrows raised ]: Sounds like a nun falling down a flight of stairs.

Allyn/Jack: And you would know that sound because…?

Will/Hatter: I’m telling you, religion and I have a history. Would you believe I’ve been ordained by the Church of Wonderland?

Allyn/Jack: Alas, I fear I would.

[A mighty crash sounds from offstage, complete with bright, smoky fireworks blasting in from stage left. Both players look over, rightly startled.]

Allyn/Jack: A fallen airship! O holy night, don’t tell me our friends were on it?!

Will/Hatter [looking “skyward”]: All right, I won’t. You can figure it out on your own while we get out of sight. Come on!

[Will and Allyn scurry around to the other side of the prop trees while another set of players are lowered from above on cables made out to look like parachutes – Little John as the Antichristmas Beast, and Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb from INSPIRED.]

Annabelle [coming to a landing ]: Whew! Good thing the airship came stowed with emergency landing gear, or that would’ve been ugly.

Little John/Beast: It will be ugly when I get my hands on that Loki character. Thought you were pretty sly, did you, author? Writing that mischief-maker into my story of Nottingham Sheriff-hood.

Annabelle: I didn’t have anything to do with that! But it would serve you right if I had, after your sudden but, in retrospect, inevitable betrayal! I should have heeded Jack’s advice about you from the first.

Sir Wilbur: Well, we didn’t. And I lost my sword in the crash. So we can only hope—

Little John/Beast [whipping out a pistol ]: That I didn’t have another one of these?

Sir Wilbur [glumly ]: Yes. That.

Allyn/Jack[’s voice from behind his tree ]: I’d put that away, were I you, Sheriff.

Little John/Beast [as Allyn emerges with a pistol of his own ]: So, the chosen Santa Claus has turned outlaw. How naughty.

Will/Hatter [coming around his own tree, overcomplicated-looking mechanical bow drawn ]:

Because thankfully, I didn’t find an image of a nun falling down a flight of stairs.
Because thankfully, I didn’t find an image of a nun falling down a flight of stairs.

And yet, we make it look so nice. Game over, punk: We’ve got you out-steamed. By the power vested in me by the Church of Wonderland, I order you to—

Little John/Beast: [levels pistol at Will and shoots him ]

Allyn/Jack, Annabelle, and Wilbur: NOOOO!

[Will looks down at what gives every appearance of being a bloody hole in his chest … and starts laughing like crazy.]

Will/Hatter [his smile straight-up scary mad ]: My, my, my. Now you’ve done it. [slumps to the ground, smiling wider still as an alarming amount of black smoke billows up out of his mouth]

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience member Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘a nun falling down a flight of stairs’ and ‘fireworks’.”

“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!”

Losing the Thread of It (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 9)

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 Saturday,” 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: ‘Losing the Thread of It’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on what appears much like a forest of tall, narrow walls of faux stone, all shifting back and forth, side to side, seemingly at random. Weaving through the walls are Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow, and Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb of INSPIRED.]

Annabelle: A petting zoo in the center of the Labyrinth, huh? Inspired. Thank goodness Hatter’s got the Ariadne’s Thread app on his phone, or we’d be hopelessly lost.

Labyrinth

Sir Wilbur: Speaking of lost… [slows to glance around ] …where, exactly, is Hatter?

[Everyone stops, looking in all directions and ‘round the stilled walls’ corners.]

Allyn/Jack: Oh, for Christmas’ sake… [raises voice ] Hatter? Artifice Cheshirecott, what are you playing at? I swear, if you don’t show up in short order, I will kick up a kerfuffle of which you’ve never seen the like!

Sir Wilbur: He can’t be far. I mean, he’s got the phone. Surely he wouldn’t abscond with our only chance of getting in and out of here in one lifetime.

Annabelle: You’re awfully trusting of a madman, Lamb. Still, it doesn’t seem in his character to fall back and shove us into trouble. He’s more the type to dive in headfirst and drag us along behind him. Reckless inanity, yes. Malicious mischief, no. Wait… [eyes narrow ] Mischief. Trickery. You guys don’t suppose this is the work of…?

[She’s cut off by a low growl echoing off the walls.]

Sir Wilbur [on knightly high alert ]: What was that?

Annabelle [nervously optimistic ]: Maybe even miniature Minotaurs make mega-sized sound?

Allyn/Jack [dubious ]: Maybe.

[A massive horned shadow looms black on one of the walls.]

Annabelle [inching back to stand behind Wilbur ]: Maybe that shadow’s size is just a trick of the light?

Sir Wilbur [grimly ]: Maybe.

[The massive shadow’s maker appears around the corner – a terrifying vision of fur and claws, hulking muscle, a glare of pure malevolence, and those aforementioned horns.]

Annabelle [squeaking ]: That’s no Minitaur.

Allyn/Jack [paling ]: And that’s no Minotaur.

Terrifying Horned Creature [in deep, menacing, all-too-familiar tones ]: Well, well, well. If it isn’t the chosen Santa Claus.

Allyn/Jack: The Antichristmas Beast.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Chelsea de la Cruz and Laure Estep,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘abscond’ and ‘kerfuffle’.”

“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!”

Chopped Liver Inspiration (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 6)

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 Saturday,” 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: ‘Chopped Liver Inspiration’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a bedroom set. Not the castle bedchamber set we usually see with the canopied bed and elegant wardrobe, but a modern affair draped with hoodies, hung with dreamcatchers, piled with books. On the colorfully quilted bed sits a girl in her upper teens, typing away at a laptop. Enter Allyn-a-Dale and Will Scarlet, stage left.]

Will/Hatter: Annabelle Iole Gray, I presume?

Annabelle [looking up, startled ]: Um, yes. That’d be me. And you are?

Will/Hatter [with a hat-sweeping bow ]: Artifice Cheshirecott, Mad Hatter, at your service. [gestures to Allyn ] And this is Jack Snow, chosen Santa Claus of Fairytale Forest.

Annabelle: Huh. I had no idea I had you in my head.

Allyn/Jack: We’re not in your head. We’re in your bedroom.

Annabelle [leaping back into her bed’s pile of pillows ]: Whaaat?!

[From behind the bed’s headboard, Sir Wilbur Lamb appears.]

Sir Wilbur: Sorry, author. I did tell them you might find it less disturbing were they to manifest in your mind rather than on your plane of reality, but—

Will/Hatter [cheerfully ]: But it’s all the same to me! All planes are my planes. So, where’s Lucianíel? It’s mainly him we’ve come to see.

Annabelle [grumpy ]: Doesn’t that just figure? Couple of cute strangers busting into my room uninvited only to say, “Yeah, hi, we don’t want you.” I’m changing my name to Chopped Liver.

Sir Wilbur: Real name, or pen name?

Annabelle: Both!

Will/Hatter: Aw, don’t take it personally, darling. It’s just we’re in need of some inspiration, and that’s pretty much Luc’s shtick.

Sir Wilbur: Well, Luc doesn’t appear to be around, at the moment.

Allyn/Jack [muttering ]: Probably refusing to lower himself to a bit part in a stage show of buffoons. I should have so much pride.

Annabelle: I could inspire you. What kind of ideas are you looking for?

Will/Hatter: I’m taking Jack, here, on a sightseeing tour on the way to his home in the North Pole. So far we’ve poked around a few corners of fantasy. What genre should we explore next?

Annabelle: List of genres, eh? That’s easy enough. To the Internet!

Allyn/Jack [addressing the audience as Annabelle returns to her laptop ]: Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre wishes to state on the record that neither we nor our affiliates hold to the belief that the Internet is a suitable substitute for a professional muse.

Accept no substitutes.
Accept no substitutes.

Annabelle: Here we go, there’s a bunch of them. Fables and folklore, horror and historical, mystery and— ooh, mythology! You guys should totally do mythology next! I’m halfway to a Greek myths expert; I could give you a ton of high points to hit.

Will/Hatter: Perfect! You’re coming with us.

Annabelle: I—what? How does that even—?

Sir Wilbur: They’ve already roped me in.

Annabelle [tossing closed laptop to the foot of the bed ]: Then never mind how. Count me in!

Will/Hatter: Up to four of us, now. We should really have an awesome group name. Peter Pan had his Lost Boys. Robin Hood had his Merry Men.

Annabelle: Jason had his Argonauts.

Will/Hatter [grinning ]: And now Jack Snow’s got his Genre-nauts. Lead on, Chopped Liver!

Annabelle: Yeah, no, that can’t continue.

Will/Hatter: I thought maybe not.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

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

“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!”

A Herd and a Third (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 5)

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 Saturday,” 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: ‘A Herd and a Third’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow and Will Scarlet as the Mad Hatter racing to keep pace with the treadmill portion of the stage beneath their feet. Thunderous drumming and trumpeting sounds from the orchestra pit while a moving backdrop of jungle greenery whizzes along.]

Will/Hatter [to the audience ]: Last time on our serial genre-hopping adventure, you saw Jack and me encounter the shape-shifting bird god of this, the jungle of the Abishan.

Allyn/Jack [also to the audience ]: What you did not see was the part not long afterward where Hatter managed to offend the local elephant goddess.

Will/Hatter: How was I to know leaving trinkets of ivory on her shrine was an insult?

Allyn/Jack: Well, if we live past this stampede, we’ll know better in future! How much farther before every elephant in this place gives up the rampage?

Will/Hatter [pointing ahead to a wall of faux stone about five-by-five feet rolling in from off stage left to stop just ahead of the treadmill, which likewise comes to a halt ]: Oh, they’ll probably have to call it a day about here.

Allyn/Jack: It’s not a terribly tall obstruction.

Will/Hatter: So much the better! You and I can hop it. And elephants, meanwhile, cannot jump. True fact. Up you go!

[Will gives Allyn a boost, Allyn gives Will a hand, and wha-bam, both are over the wall, which they subtly nudge onto the restarted treadmill, then jog in place ‘til the wall makes its exit, stage right. The drums and trumpets fade into silence.]

Will/Hatter [wiping brow ]: Phew, glad that’s over! If another colossal creature with the wherewithal to gore me to death never steps into the picture, it’ll be too soon!

[…At which point a sizeable chain-mailed knight bearing a broadsword enters, stage left.]

Allyn/Jack: Go figure.

Too Soon

Knight [stopping a respectful distance away ]: Greetings, lords among beasts. Whom do I have the honor of addressing?

Allyn/Jack [startled ] : Um, Jack Snow, chosen Santa Claus of Fairytale Forest, and Artifice Cheshirecott, Mad Hatter of Wonderland. Why, whom did you think you were addressing?

Knight: Oh, I beg your pardon. I’d assumed, as you’d come from Shan’s jungle, you must be a pair of animal gods in your most human forms.

Will/Hatter: “Shan”, is it? A pretty familiar name to call the Abishan by. You two must be close as Tweedles Dee and Dum.

Knight [smiling ]: Something of that nature. We’ve been through the end of the world together, for a start.

Will/Hatter: The end for a start… That’s INSPIRED philosophy if ever I heard it. [thrusts a finger in the air ] And if you and Abishan share a novel, and you’re a knight, that can only mean one thing!

Knight: That I am Sir Wilbur Lamb of the Order of the Dove?

Will/Hatter: Or that. A pleasure to meet you, Sir Wilbur!

Allyn/Jack [exchanging bows with the knight ]: Indeed. Your reputation precedes you – to say nothing of the guest article you posted earlier this week. But if the protagonists of your world and the cat god’s are friends and allies, why is there erected a wall between you?

Sir Wilbur: Oh, it’s no sign of ill will; merely a bit of a safeguard. We wouldn’t want any small children wandering into a land of predators. And though the majority of jungle creatures could easily get over the wall if they wished, most do not care for manmade constructions, and so will avoid it, which is to the good of the farmers in the area. The Southland could have lost half our bean crop if that raging elephant herd had crossed over.

Will/Hatter: Mm, yeah. Thank all for the wall. So, Wilbur, what do you do all day, besides act as the border guard?

Sir Wilbur: Well, I also—

Will/Hatter [wiggling his brows ]: Wanna join us on adventure instead?

Allyn/Jack [narrows eyes at Will ]: And by “adventure”, you mean “the most efficient route possible to the North Pole”?

Will/Hatter: Sure, right, that. So, y’wanna?

Sir Wilbur: I am between edits on my life story, just now. So certainly – if you’ll have me, I’d be glad to come along.

Allyn/Jack: Ah, lovely. A travel companion who will raise the sanity levels of our company from 50 to 66 percent. Which way do we go from here, Hatter?

Will/Hatter: I have no idea. [speaks in a singsong though a Cheshirecott grin ] But I know where we can get one!

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

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

“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 Few, the Humble, the Favorites (INSPIRED Days)

Inspired Days Button

It’s Week Two of “INSPIRED Days”! – an approximate month of awesomeness celebrating my J. Taylor Publishing novel as it nears its 6-month semi-anniversary.

INSPIRED being a book absolutely all about the characters, I thought it only fitting that its main cast get in on the fun. So here’s our second guest post of the party, brought to you by the novel’s sweetheart of a knight, Sir Wilbur Lamb!

<<<>>>

Being your author’s favorite character can be complicated.

I would like to firstly state that I in no way think I deserve to be Annabelle’s favorite. I— Pardon? Pray excuse me, readers; Uri’s saying something at me… Who do I think should be the favorite, if not me? Good gracious, Uri, I don’t know. Luc, perhaps, if a muse qualifies. He certainly puts in the most work, with her.

A piece of fan art created by my author’s author, Danielle.
A piece of fan art created by my author’s author, Danielle.

Which brings me back around to what I was going to say, which is how a favorite character has a double load of responsibilities. On the one side, you’ve got your story world to think about – your family and friends from home, and whatever portion of the plot you’ve got to hold up. And on the other side, you’ve got your secondary life, the one outside your book, in the free-for-all of your author’s mind, where – if the author’s anything like Annabelle – she calls you out to converse and— I’m sorry, now Abishan’s speaking. Is this urgent, Shan? I’m supposed to be providing a blog post… You should be Annabelle’s favorite? Um, certainly. I’ll be sure to tell her you said so. Pet you now? All right, if you’ll kindly stay quiet while I finish my assigned task.

Where was I? Conversing with the author. That can be awkward, for the favorite. Or perhaps it wouldn’t be so in every favorite’s case, but Annabelle is… well, less than circumspect about her feelings for me. Not that I wouldn’t have been able to see how she felt anyway, since we do share a brainspace. Even could we not read each other’s thoughts, though, it would be frightfully obvious that our affections are, erm, unevenly matched. But of course one doesn’t wish to offend or hurt anyone – (yes, thank you, Uri, I do speak for myself) – especially not one’s author, who does so very much for her characters. I mean, mercy, Annabelle gives us… virtually everything! Everything we ever had before we knew her (or even knew that everything we had was fiction), and far more, for she labors to finish the stories our late author began, that they may endure forever in the minds and hearts of the readers she’ll touch. And what can we provide to even begin to repay her?

Wait, Yves, say that again. …Yes, that is what is ours to offer. We give her purpose. Entertainment. Encouragement. Companionship. Love. Perhaps not always the exact same sort of love she has for us, but I, for one, do love her. And yes, Shan, you for two. And Luc and Uri and Yves for three through five, whether or not any of them will ever tell her in so many words.

And whether or not I remain Annabelle’s favorite in the years to come, she has been my favorite author I’ve ever known. For love and for duty, I will strive in both lives she’s given me to be worthy of her adoration for me.

Pardon, Luc?

“I said, you’re doing fine, child.”

<<<>>>

Thanks, Wilbur! A question for the writer types: Have any of your characters stolen your heart as the favorite? As for the reader types who’d love to nab the novel featuring this model of gallantry, remember there’s a giveaway on Goodreads with three paperbacks for the winning. Meanwhile, for the e-reading crowd, the novel’s e-version is on sale all month for a crazy-low 99 cents via Amazon and Barnes and Noble. So for anyone who hasn’t gotten hold of a copy yet, the time is now!

Inspired Sale, Kindle and BN

 

**Coming up Monday**: An all-new piece of flash fiction, featuring that most illustrious team of creativity, Luc and Annabelle!