Once upon a time, a young lady known as Sarnic Dirchi read a book.
“…And I was like, wow,” she says. “This is amazing! I really want to go all crazy questions to the author about so many different things that happened, but I also would love for the author to ask me questions, too! I mean, when I have people read stuff I’ve written, I have a million and a half questions for them. So wouldn’t it be fun if an author interviewed a reader and asked them the questions that they want to know the answers to?”
To that end, S.D. posted a Tweet suggesting that very thing, secretly hoping that the book’s author would take her up on the offer. “Cus I didn’t want to go all crazy fan girl on [the author] and out of the blue message [her] saying HEY INTERVIEW ME AND ASK ME HOW I LIKED YOUR BOOK!, as that would be rather freaky methinks,” S.D. confesses. “But [the author] read my mind and took me up on the idea!”
And that author… *solemn nods*… was me.
And that book that inspired it all is, appropriately enough, INSPIRED.
And between reader, writer, and book written, a lovely dialogue was born.
“Reading. Love it to pieces,” says S.D. “It’s always been important in my life…though I didn’t get into serious reading ‘til 4th or 5th grade when I discovered mysteries. Plus it helped that my school started up an A.R. program and I just had to get those points! Whoosh I was off! Tearing through the pages so fast people assume I skim read…which I don’t. I just read fast.”
From there, S.D. went on to become a fantasy fan. “Dragons, magic, different worlds, shape-shifters, epic adventures. That sort of thing. I love stories about the ‘underdogs’ like thieves, slaves, poor peasants and their triumphs at the end. I do occasionally venture out into other genres, but it’s not often.”
Though not strictly a part of the fantasy genre, S.D. found plenty of fantastic characters in INSPIRED. Musing on muse Lucianíel, she says, “At first he seemed like the ‘father figure.’ The ‘high and mighty’, the ‘all knowing.’ He felt removed from the story; part of it, but not really part of it. The shepherd to the flock, etc. And then he went down the dark path…” Some of Luc’s actions got a real reaction out of her, driving her to cry at the pages, “No! Bad choice! Bad Choice! Don’t do it! … Yikes. Totally scary muse. But oh, the feels!”
While the character of Jean had a smaller role with far less page time, “From the brief glimpses I got of her, I liked her,” S.D. relates. “She seems a lot like me. Taking inspiration from dreams for possible story ideas. Hasn’t gotten quite around to writing them yet in hard form. … Reading her sudden death was what piqued my interest in this book. … If the author is gone…what then? It also sent me to that ‘AH!! I NEED TO GO WRITE!!!… BUT I WANT TO READ!!!’ tug of war when I actually started reading the book for a bit before I decided to keep reading.”
With the special place in S.D.’s heart for shape-shifters, it’s no surprise she enjoyed the character of Abishan. “I love how he was able to change to different cats,” she enthuses. “He wasn’t just a jaguar, he could be a lynx, a lion, a house cat…and then he can turn human like? Oooo! … Most [shapes-hifters], stick to one shape; him, not so. He’s much cooler than that. … [And] he was excellently portrayed like a cat.”
Of Wilbur’s character, S.D. says, “I loved his introductory chapter. It’s just the sort of story that I gravitate to. Farmboy becoming the great warrior! I loved the writing, the scenery, the details. … It’s like Ranger’s Apprentice, but of course, different. And how Annabelle continues to write him, was great. Adventures all around! … I admit I don’t quite get Annabelle’s obsessiveness over [him]…okay I do get it, but the way it came across, I was like O.o But, but there are more characters! Focus on them too! I want to find out their story! However,” she goes on to theorize, “considering she has ‘angelic Luc’ as her other muse…Wilbur seems so much more forgiving. So I often placed them as Ying and Yang in my head. Wilbur is the sort of muse that Annabelle wants. Luc isn’t.”
Uri, she labeled, “…A surprise. Lol, she seemed like such an out of place character in the beginning of the book. I mean, what teenager goes around thinking in biblical verses and signs and such? Especially when she doesn’t come across as the religious sort at first? I really just marked it down as an author’s idea for a character quirk.” Until S.D. reached the revelation of Uri’s surprise backstory, which she declares to be, “AWESOME.”
As for S.D.’s favorite character, that honor goes to Yves. “He’s the sort of character I gravitate to. Quiet. Has a secret. Could be a dark secret. May have a power that could be harmful. To know that he’s aware of it, and doesn’t share. … The mystery of his background, of what his story was? Interest caught, and not leaving until it has an answer. And then to get the answer. ()_() … Yes. [He] is my favorite. No hesitation.”
Which isn’t to say there wasn’t some love left to throw Annabelle’s way. “I totally admire her…for being able to interact with the characters like they’re real people standing right there in front of her. I’ve only been able to do that with a couple of my own, and so to have her so freely having them surrounding her, interacting with her on a day to day basis, doing activities with her, encouraging her when she doesn’t want to do things, or helping her through problems. Wow. Props to her.”
Standout scenes/images for S.D., who loves getting ahold of mental visuals when she reads, include, “Wilbur’s practice yard. Abishan’s jungle. Yves dancing on the bridge and then high above the ground… Oh! And definitely I enjoyed how you described each character. It wasn’t a list of characteristics, but you worded things in such a way that the image just stuck in the mind. It made it easy to keep picturing them and not have to think ‘Wait…what color was Uri’s hair?’ But definitely the one that stuck in my head and had me replaying it for a couple of days afterwards was [*spoilers, spoilers, move along, nothing to see here*] … I keep repeating that scene, hope it’s not sounding like a broken record, but I really liked it. Seriously, I can’t get that out of my head.”
When asked if she was struck off the top of her head with songs that matched INSPIRED’s cast, S.D. admitted, “I’m not one of those people who matches characters to music, often. …I’m lucky if I know the name to a song…even luckier if I know the artist. Most of the time I just know the lyrics.”
Even so, she was able to come up with a bit of music for a handful of the characters. “When Wilbur is first introduced in the practice yard I think of the song: “United We Stand” from the movie Quest for Camelot. Uri gives me the impression of: “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons. With Luc a song that comes to mind is called “Home for Me”, by BYU Vocal Point. … But the rest, it’s overall impressions of scenes, most of them, unsurprisingly centering around Yves.”
I owe S.D.’s discovery of the novel to a mutual friend: Kimberly Kay. Says S.D., “When she was working on the One More Day anthology, she talked about you a lot, and if she likes someone, they’re definitely someone to like! Especially if they’re funny, and the interviews between the two of you are great! So I meandered my way over to your blog, Facebook, Twitter…etc. And tada! That’s how I found out about you.” Whether or not that alone would have been enough to make S.D. pick up the book for a read, there was one factor that pushed her over the edge. “The beginning sequence of the book, that you shared on your blog, ending with Jean dying sparked my interest. It sounded like my type of story. What happens when your creator suddenly dies? No idea, but I was about to find out!”
While S.D. enjoyed INSPIRED a great deal, she’s still on the fence about delving into my fairytale novella series. “Knowing what Inspired is like makes me want to try out your Wilderhark Tales, especially Edgwyn’s part of the stories as he is my type of character! But at the moment, the series as a whole hasn’t really struck my fancy. However,” she goes on to say of my someday-beyond-the-Wilderhark-Tales Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, “I would love to read about Will Scarlet and the Robin Hood Gang; again, that sort of tale is up my alley in ‘things I like to read.’”
Regarding the possibility of an INSPIRED sequel, S.D. is of two minds. “I’m totally intrigued to see what crazy antics can happen next! But then I’m like O.o why do you need a sequel? As really, Inspired felt like a standalone book. I was happy with the ending (as happy as a reader can be when they want to know more about characters and don’t get the info they crave…), and that it actually felt like an ending and not a ‘wait another year and you can see book 2!’ sort of thing that’s become all too common. That being said, I’m hopeful that a book 2 will expand out the current set of characters…and introduce new characters. I’d also love to see how everyone has evolved since the first book. So yah! I’ve decided that I would look forward to it. What will happen to them next???”
Also on S.D.’s INSPIRED wish-list, “I wish to read everyone’s stories as a whole! The tantalizing pieces I read in Inspired have me wishing to actually have everyone’s books in my hands. Wilbur, Yves, Uri, Shan. I want more!”
Time will tell what my own muses prompt me to deliver to S.D. and her fellow readers next. I can only hope that getting the chance to chat with the author about the story has helped to sweeten the wait. Her closing words would suggest that is the case.
“Thanks so much for the interview D.S! This was a ton of fun. ^^”
The pleasure was mine, S.D.! You’ve been a wonderful audience, and I am nothing but delighted that reading my work filled your imagination to bursting. Now get out there, write your own masterwork, and do it all over again for some other reader. ;D
P.S. – If any other readers o’ mine out there are ever interested in doing something like this, you know how to reach me!