Oscar Stone, family friend of Gus LeGarde, of the Gus LeGarde Mystery series.

Bertram: Mr. Stone, I hope you don’t mind being interviewed because of your connection with Gus LeGarde. It appears he’s a bit busy with his large family and gardens right now. It’s not that we aren’t interested in you, Mr. Stone, but Professor LeGarde has been featured in quite a few mystery books lately that have been piquing the interest of local readers. 

Oscar: I most certainly object to being interviewed for who I know, not for who I am. However, while my life as a historian and nature photographer is decidedly fascinating, it isn’t newsworthy. And Gus has been through some hair-raising adventures over the past few years, which do warrant discussion. We are all rather proud of him, and think of him as quite the hero, don’t-you-know? 

Bertram: I’ll bet. Well, let’s start at the beginning. How did you meet Gus? 

Oscar: Gus LeGarde and I have been friends for the past few decades. When Gus’s parents died within a few years of each other, he went through a serious depression. It was all my wife Millie and I could do to help him get through it. Just after Gus’s mother died, our son, William, was killed in action in Viet Nam. Millie and I were distraught, and Gus and his wife, Elsbeth, kindly drew us into their lives. That’s when we basically “adopted” each other. 

Bertram: I’m sorry about your son, Mr. Stone. I’m sure my readers would join me in thanking him for his service to our country. Now, let’s talk about Elsbeth. What’s the story there? The author, Aaron Lazar, paints quite a picture of her murder. 

Oscar: Ah, Elsbeth. I never knew a more fiery woman. She was beautiful, dark, wild. And, oh, what a pianist. She was about to begin a worldwide tour as a concert pianist when their daughter Freddie was born, and she gave it all up to stay home with the baby. Of course, that was almost thirty years before she was murdered. 

Bertram: What about the murder? 

Oscar: It’s an exceedingly unpleasant topic. Normally, I wouldn’t discuss such private issues with you. However, since Gus has authorized the series to be published, I suppose it’s acceptable, in this case. 

The short version is that Elsbeth contracted cancer – it settled in her temporal lobe. We went years thinking she had a mood disorder, like bipolar. There was even a diagnosis of schizophrenia. She went through a number of neurologists. When the cancer was finally detected, it was too late. And the suicidal depression, caused by a tumor that affected the part of her brain that controls these things, overwhelmed her many a time.

We all thought she’d jumped off the cliffs of the Letchworth Gorge because of it. Later, of course, we discovered that Harold, Gus’s son-in-law, pushed her. He was trying to cover the embezzlement of her inheritance. He found her depression a convenience – especially since she’d tried suicide several times – and it was well documented. I believe Mr. Lazar refers to this in his accounts of Gus’s life throughout the series. It was awful. Just awful. We all thought she’d really jumped, until Harold was later revealed to be a monster. He’s still in jail, of course. Thank God. 

Bertram: What about Gus’s house? Is it really as large and homey as Lazar paints it? 

Oscar: It is. We gather on Sundays for Gus’s family feast. He’s an amazing chef, with a talent for comfort food with a gourmet twist. He has a flare for it, that’s for certain. One thing Lazar may misrepresent is the cleanliness of their home. Gus hates to do dishes. And the great room is often covered with toys and evidence of his grandchildren’s forays into mischief. 

Bertram: Who is “we?” Are all the people in Lazar’s books really in Gus’s life? 

Oscar: Oh, yes. All of them, and more. Well, let’s see. Of course Millie and I are always there. There’s Gus’s new wife, Camille, and her daughter, Shelby. She’s going to be quite the vocalist, let me tell you. But I digress. Camille’s mother, Madelaine, is Gus’s secretary. She’s romantically involved with Officer Joe Russell, who’s a wonderful lawman with a very healthy appetite. They live in Camille’s old Cape Cod, just down the road. Gus’s daughter Freddie, now divorced from Harold, lives with Gus and Camille with her three children: Johnny, Marion, and Celeste. They are all cared for by the most capable housekeeper and nanny, Mrs. Pierce, who stayed on after caring for Elsbeth in her final days. Of course, that was five years ago now, although it seems like just yesterday. 

Bertram: What about the giant? 

Oscar: Oh my goodness! I forgot about Siegfried. Of course. Our gentle giant. Siegfried was Elsbeth’s twin brother, Gus’s brother-in-law. Dear Siegfried has suffered from great challenges in his life, not the least of which was a childhood boating accident that left him slightly impaired. But he’s a veritable gem. He lives in the carriage house beside Gus’s barn, works at Freddie’s veterinary clinic, and helps out around the property by watching the children and chopping wood. Oh, and he also tends the barn animals, two horses, dogs, chickens. Siegfried has shown amazing courage on more than one occasion, and has saved Gus’s life several times. To be fair, Gus has done the same for him. It’s been rather crazy around here lately. Too many villains invading our peaceful little town. 

Bertram: How accurate are Lazar’s books? I mean, regarding the actual plots. Does he embellish? Or are they relatively factual? 

Oscar: They’re pretty factual. I have read all of Lazar’s books, including his rough drafts for the unpublished works. He honors me by including me in his “inner circle” of readers and critique partners. Actually, my wife Millie and I do this together, and we do find plenty of typos. He tends to get carried away in the stories, and often forgets important things. Like my camera. He almost called it a Nikon in the first book, and it’s a Leica! I’ve had to correct him on a number of items. But for the most part, he and Gus spend a lot of time together going over the actual events and timelines. Occasionally he waxes a bit poetic, delving into the descriptions of our valley in flowery detail. I would be more to the point, don’t-you-know? But I suppose it works. His readers seem to enjoy the books. 

Bertram: You’ve read all . . . ten? Eleven? What’s your favorite, so far? 

Oscar: Oh, my. That’s a tough one. I have soft spots in my heart for all of Lazar’s books. I love Firesong, because that has such lovely historical connections with the Underground Railroad. And Counterpoint gives a great account of the ice storm. Then again, Mazurka is a waltz through Europe, rather delightful. Of course, the ones that feature me are probably my favorites, but don’t forget, two of these eleven books introduce another set of characters. Sam and Rachel Moore, who live not far from us, agreed to let Lazar document their recent adventures. Rachel is very brave, a strong woman. She has MS, don’t-you-know? 

Bertram: You didn’t tell me your favorite book, Mr. Stone. 

Oscar: You must forgive the aging brain of an octogenarian. I tend to ramble. All right then, if you are going to push, I suppose I would choose Tremolo. I love the way Lazar pits the innocence of Gus’s childhood against the evil of the thief and murderer he faced in Maine as a child. And the descriptions of the Maine lake are just invigorating. Quite pristine and makes me imagine the aroma of pines, don’t-you-know. 

This young man has had a devil of a time finding a publisher with deep pockets. If you have any connections with powerful NYC publishers, you must certainly put in a good word for him. He’s a good fellow with a large family of his own, you know. He needs a nice advance. 

Bertram: I certainly will, Mr. Stone. And I understand how difficult it is to break into the business. I have a few novels of my own, and understand the predicament all too well. 

Well, thank you for your time, Mr. Stone. Perhaps we’ll talk again, and next time I’ll ask all about your work as East Groveland historian. 

Oscar: You’re quite welcome, young lady. And I’d be happy to regale you with the tales of long lost precious documents and local grave robbers. But we’ll save that for another time. I need to let Tinkerbell out to go potty. She’s dancing at the door. Drive safely, now. And watch out for villains.

Chip, the Hero of Her Work-in-Pause, a Whimsically Ironic Apocalyptic Novel (Part I)

Bertram: I’ve been trying to write freeform in an effort to get your story moving. You’re on your way home now, and your neighborhood is still intact, or as intact as it was the last time you saw it. The change from open prairie to city disconcerts you, or does it? I’m still not sure who you are or what you want. You want freedom, of course. No one to bother you. No one to tell you what to do. No one to change the world on a whim.

Chip: At least you got me away from that danged volcano. You should have done it a long time ago instead of making me run and run for months on end.

Bertram: Life got in the way, you know how it is.

Chip: No I don’t. You barely wrote me into the world and then you left me to fend for myself.

Bertram: It wasn’t fair, but I’m here now.

Chip: You’re not. Your mind is still somewhere in cyberspace. You’re wondering what you’re missing. Who’s emailing you? Who’s commenting on your articles? How many people are reading your other blog? What’s going on in your discussion group?

Bertram: Okay, you got a point. My attention is divided, but . . .

Chip: Buts and more buts. That’s all you ever offer me. What you need to do is get your mind here with me in this crazy world that changes by the minute. No wonder you don’t know who I am. I don’t know who I am because you’re not writing me.

Bertram: If we’re casting blame here, why aren’t you helping me to move the story along? Usually after 15,000 words, I have a feel for my characters, a sense of who they are, and what secrets they hoard, but you–you don’t tell me anything about yourself.

Chip: How can I? Growing up, my life was never about me. I didn’t have much chance to develop a solid identity. My father died when I was young, and my mother was a narcissist who always put herself first. I know she had to work two jobs to support me, and I’m grateful. I really am. She went through a lot for me. People didn’t treat her well at work. The women were jealous of her looks, and the men never saw anything but her big breasts. Yet she fought her way to the top of the company and ended up retiring with a great pension. Poor mother didn’t know what to do with herself after she retired, so she came to visit me. For six months.

Bertram: That doesn’t explain why you aren’t helping me write your story. We know what happens to you—

Chip: Maybe that’s why I don’t want to help. Maybe I want the world to go back the way it was. I was happy, except that I couldn’t get my mother to leave.

Bertram: Were you happy?

Chip: Sure. I had my store. I loved the animals in my charge, and I miss them. I know you said you sent the frilled lizard home to Australia and the Scarlet Macaw home to the rainforest, but I have only your word for it. I’ve never seen them there. And then all the other animals, like the poor blind seeing-eye dog. What did you do with it? A generic remark that it’s in a better place does not answer the question. Is it with the wolves? Is it young again? Is it sighted?

Bertram: You sound like a whiner here, and yet I never saw you as a whiner. A bit weak, perhaps—you never got up the courage to ask your mother to leave. I had to et rid of her for you.

Chip: I did ask her to leave. Many times. But she didn’t go. What was I supposed to do? Throw her out the door? Drag her to her car? Change the locks when she went shopping?

Bertram: Do you think maybe you wanted her to stay? Maybe you’re a mama’s boy. Maybe you liked having her take care of you AND you wanted your freedom. Since you couldn’t have both, maybe you got in the habit of blaming her for your inadequacies.

Chip: Inadequacies? You think I’m inadequate?

Bertram: I think you’re perfect for your job—a rather ordinary character who becomes extraordinary because of what happens to you.

Chip: Inadequate and ordinary. Thanks a lot.

Bertram: You do have a few qualities that make you stand out—your way with animals, the way you identify with them rather than with humans.

Chip: That is a good quality, one I would have chosen for myself if you hadn’t bestowed it on me. What other qualities do I have that make me stand out?

Bertram: You’re reasonably bright—

Chip: Reasonably bright is a good quality? Sheesh.

Bertram: And you have a strange sense of honor. I like that you saved Nicholas Nickleby to read after you fudged on reading it during college.

Chip: I was embarrassed at having to rely on cheat sheets from the internet to write that paper, but my job had to come first or I wouldn’t have been able to afford college. I will read the book, just not now. It makes me think of all that’s lost.

Bertram: What do you miss from the old world? I mean besides working at your store. You never seemed to do much else.

Chip: I spent a lot of time planning my animal refuge, but when you destroyed the world, you destroyed my dream along with it.

Bertram: Maybe I made your dream come true. I returned your animals to their natural habitats.

Chip: But I didn’t have anything to do with it.

Bertram: So what you’re objecting to is that I saved you animals and you didn’t?

Chip: No. Yes. I don’t know.

Bertram: Precise response.

Chip: I don’t need your sarcasm. I could be doing . . .

Bertram: Could be doing?

Chip: Anything but talking to you.

Bertram: I really want to know. What would be doing if you weren’t talking to me?

Chip: Going home. I have a cat waiting for me. You’ve left us alone so long, it’s probably gone by now.

Bertram: Not yet, he’s still waiting for you. And he’s doing well. He’s quite a self-sufficient creature, you know.

Chip: It. It’s an it, not a he. “He” presumes humanness, and it’s a higher life form than any human I’ve ever met.

Bertram: Okay. It’s waiting for you.

Chip: I hear that patronizing tone in your voice. I don’t have to put up with it.

Bertram: Oh, but you do. I’ve pledged to write 2000 words tonight, and since you’re not giving me anything to work with, we’re going to keep at this until you do.

Chip: What do you need from me?

Bertram: Something to make you real in my head so that I can hardly wait to work on your story everyday. Something that excites me so that I can’t stop thinking about it.

Chip: No one can do that. You’ve read so much you’re jaded, and now you expect me to supply the excitement you once found while reading. At least you’re working again.

Bertram: But the writing is awful. I can’t use any of it for the book.

Chip: So? I thought the point was to write whatever flows out of your mind.

Bertram: I didn’t expect such drivel. I’d hoped for magic.

Chip: We all hope for magic. Few of us get it.

Bertram: Now we’re getting somewhere. Did you hope for magic?

Chip: Maybe.

Bertram: Then you got it, didn’t you? One day your world was the same as it always was, and the next . . .

Chip: It changed. Nothing is the same. Nothing is real.

Bertram: How does that make you feel?

Chip: What are you, my therapist?

Bertram: Just answer the question.

Chip: It makes me feel frightened. Awed. Unsettled. Lonely. Desperate. Excited. Except for the bugs. I can do without those.

Bertram: You have to admit, it’s interesting for a character who professes to love animals to have an aversion to bugs.

Chip: Big bugs. Two-inch beetles. Seven-foot millipedes. Next thing I know, you’re going to have dragonflies with six-foot wingspans.

Bertram: Great idea, but I don’t want to overdo the bug thing.

Chip: Believe me, I don’t want you to overdo it either. Can I go home now?

Bertram: As soon as you give me something to work with.

Chip: It’s going to be a very long night.

See also: Pat Bertram Introduces Chip, the Hero of her Work-in-Pause, a Whimsically Ironic Apocalyptic Novel (Part II)

Aphrodite and Eros from Mortals, Gods, and a Muse by Suzette Vaughn

Bertram: What’s your name?

Aphrodite: Depends on whom you ask.

Bertram: I’m asking you.

Aphrodite: I am Aphrodite, Goddess of love.

Bertram: What would others call you?

Aphrodite: Sherry called me Star, thinking she could just make up a name for me.

Bertram: Why didn’t you tell her your name was Aphrodite?

Aphrodite: When I tried to talk, she couldn’t hear me. It was very frustrating.

Bertram: She couldn’t hear you? You were quiet?

Aphrodite: Idiot, no! She physically couldn’t hear me. The words were coming out of my mouth and she looked at me as if it was my problem?

Bertram: Okay you rude goddess, what is your role in Sherry’s story?

Aphrodite: If I still had my powers, you’d be a frog right now. I, of course, had to fix her little love life. How was I supposed to know she was his true love?

Bertram: Sherry was whose true love?

Aphrodite: Lysander’s, of course. The Eros family line. Don’t you understand anything?

Bertram: I understand that talking to you is like talking to a stubborn mule. Let’s take this one step at a time. Who is Lysander?

Aphrodite: Lysander was the last male born to the Eros family line.

Bertram: Good, now we are getting somewhere. So, you made a love match of Sherry and Lysander since you are the goddess of Love?

Aphrodite: Not me! They did that all on their own. Well, he did that from Hades. I took away the love of Eros, God of Love, and kind of cursed the family and well…I don’t want to talk about that.

Bertram: Well, please sit down and stop pacing around the room. We can talk about something else.

Aphrodite: Fine! I wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for Sherry, the insufferable twit.

Bertram: So what did you do to the Eros family?

Aphrodite: You said we wouldn’t talk about that.

Bertram: I didn’t know the Goddess of Love could shoot flames from her eyes. So, what would you like to talk about?

Aphrodite: I thought I was here to talk about me, not them!

Bertram: If you don’t want to talk about their love life, how about yours?

Aphrodite: I have no love life since Eros put me in that stupid box. He really is a hot head you know.

Bertram: You’re calling him a hothead? I mean, so… why did he put you in a box?

Aphrodite: I said I don’t want to discuss that. I’m done.

Bertram: Where did she go? She just disappeared. Well, I guess this interview is over. Note to self: remove Sherry Duncan and Suzette Vaughn off my Christmas list for this.

Eros: Thank Zeus she’s gone, Miss…Miss, please snap out of it.

Bertram: Oh my, it’s warm in here. I’m feeling a little dizzy.

Eros: I get that all of the time. You’ll be fine in a moment.

Bertram: You promise? I’d like to know how you’re going to make it fine?

Eros: Stay on task now Miss…you were asking about Sherry and Xander?

Bertram: Ohh yes, those people. Okay, Sherry and Lysander, but first, please tell me your name? You look like a god.

Eros: I am a god. You want an interview do you not?

Bertram: Interview? I can think of better things to do with our time together. Sorry. You’re a little distracting. Was that your girlfriend that just poofed out of here?

Eros: My ex by about three millennia.

Bertram: So you’re single?

Eros: Yes my dear, I am, but we are not here for me, are we?

Bertram: We can be.

Eros: I am getting nowhere here.

Bertram: You could be.

Eros: Now listen here. I came to talk to you, not for you to be looking at me like that.

Bertram: How could you love that vicious Goddess? Sorry, I mean, how did she get out of the box? And is there a way we can put her back in… forever?

Eros: I could put her back but she is serving a new purpose. Xander let her out, he figured out the riddle to the box, so he was the one to break the curse.

Bertram: So that’s where Sherry comes in? She had to put her back?

Eros: Well the way it was supposed to go, Aphrodite was to find Sherry and lead her to Xander. But there were… complications, and well…Xander ended up in Hades.

Bertram: Aphrodite sent him there didn’t she, that bit.. er.. bites. That bites.

Eros: Well in a way, yes, and then it was up to Sherry to bring him back

Bertram: How did Sherry get him out?

Eros: She had to figure out how to open the box herself.

Bertram: Did she shove Aphrodite in it when she got it open?

Eros: No, she got her second chance with Xander, which we all should know, second chances at love don’t always happen, and still the story didn’t end there. For once Aphrodite was smart and stayed far away.

Bertram: Anything else you want to tell me, perhaps over dinner?

Eros: And drinks. Have you ever seen Mount Olympus in the fall?

Mortals, Gods, and a Muse written by Suzette Vaughn

Doug from the Novel Fate and Destiny by Claire Collins

Bertram: Doug, I’ve been told you are a quiet person, so I’m going to be gentle in my questions. Let’s start with you telling me your story?

Doug: I dunno if I have a story. I did some bad things and I had to make them right. I didn’t really want to hurt anybody.

Bertram: Okay, so let’s start with who you are?

Doug: My name is Douglas Mancuso. Everybody just calls me Doug, except my cousin Lenny. He calls me Dummy all the time.

Bertram: Lenny doesn’t sound very nice.

Doug: Lenny ain’t nice at all. He’s been mean and pushed me around since we were kids.

Bertram: Why do you hang around him?

Doug: Oh, I don’t anymore. I got Nancy now. But I was lonely as a kid. Nobody wanted me around except Mama and Lenny.

Bertram: I saw a twinkle in your eye when you mentioned Nancy. Who’s she?

Doug: Nancy owns the diner in town. She makes the best meatloaf and mashed taters I’ve ever had. And her pie.. uh, well there’s just nothing like her pie.

Bertram: How’d you meet Nancy?

Doug: Well, Sheriff Parker and his sister Doreen left me at Nancy’s when they went up the mountain at the end of town to check on Andrew and Destiny.

Bertram:  Yes, Destiny and Andrew. They said you’re kind of a hero around here. What do you think of that?

Doug: Shucks. I really ain’t no hero. It was all my fault to start with. I just made it right. Destiny was the real hero. She came out strong and she trusted me when she probably shoulda shot me instead.

Bertram: What did you do so wrong?

Doug: Well, I kinda shoved her out of a moving truck. But I swear, I thought she was dead when I did it.

Bertram: Why did you think she was dead?

Doug: Cause I tried to kill her. Lenny made me do it. I didn’t want to.

Bertram: So how did you make things right?

Doug: Sheriff Parker told me I can’t answer that. It’s classy filed information.

Bertram: Classy fi- oh, you mean classified?

Bertram: The recorder can’t hear you nodding Doug. Please answer so I can write it all out later.

Doug: Yeah, classy-fied. Sheriff Parker told me I can’t tell you some things ‘cause there’s another writer who talked to all of us. I think her name was Clara. No, that’s not it. Claire. Yeah, Claire Collins came up here and she’s taking the whole story to make it into a book. You gotta get her book to find out the rest.

Bertram: Well thank you for talking to me Doug. I will see if I can get a copy of it. What’s it called?

Doug: She called it Fate and Destiny. She tried to explain why she didn’t call it Andrew and Destiny, but I didn’t really get it.

Gabriella Deza, from “Indian Summer” written by Dellani Oakes.

Bertram: To get us started, tell us a little about yourself.

Gabriella: I am Gabriella Deza, youngest daughter of Governor Ferdinand Deza. I live in the village of St. Augustine, Florida territory. The year is 1739.

Bertram: What is your story?

Gabriella: I haven’t much of one yet, I’m only just 15, but what there is of it is told by Dellani Oakes in Indian Summer.

Bertram: Are you the hero of your own story?

Gabriella: Me a hero? Heavens, no! That would be Manuel Enriques, my father’s aid du camp and the love of my life.

 Bertram:What is your problem in the story?

Gabriella: Quite by chance, I found out a terrible secret. British spy is trying to capture the fort and take over the town.

Bertram: What did you do? Did you embrace the conflict or did you run from it?

Gabriella: I’ve never wanted to embrace conflict, but one must face it bravely. Troubles are sent by God to test us. Am I going to argue with Him? I never run when I can fight.

Bertram: How does the author see you?

Gabriella: Headstrong, demure, capable, passionate, honest, loving. I am these things and ever so much more.

Bertram: Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Gabriella: Oh, yes, Dellani Oakes portrayed me very accurately. She seems to have seen into my heart with great alacrity.

Bertram: What do you think of yourself?

Gabriella: I think I am all those things and more. For one so young, my life suddenly became rather complicated.

Bertram: Do you have a hero?

Gabriella: My father, Manuel, and Sailfish are my heroes. They are all so brave and noble. Though, in their own way, all men are heroes, don’t you think?

Bertram: I suppose they can be. But I’d rather talk about you. Do you have a goal?

Gabriella: My goal is to marry Manuel as soon as possible. I love him more than I can possibly express. I want to be with him forever. He is my own, true love.

Bertram: What are your achievements?

Gabriella: I’m too young to really have many of those. Although I have made Manuel love me and I have done everything I can to help him and my father keep their secrets and save the town.

Bertram: Those sound like achievements to me. Do you talk about what you did, or do you keep it to yourself?

Gabriella: What need have I to brag? God sees what I have done. If He deems it worthy, than others will hear of it in time. Manual and Papa know what I have achieved. For now, that is all that is important.

Bertram: Do you have any special strengths?

Gabriella: My faith in God is my greatest strength. My faith has seen me through very trying times. I would not be the woman I am without it.

Bertram: Do you have any special weaknesses?

Gabriella: My passion for Manuel is nearly my undoing. All he need do is look at me and I go weak in the knees.

Bertram: Do you have any skills?

Gabriella: I speak English and French in addition to my native Spanish. I ride a horse very well and drive a buggy as well as any man.

Bertram: What do you need most in life?

Gabriella: I need the wretched spy disposed of so that  our town will be saved and I may marry the man I love.

Bertram: What do you want to be?

Gabriella: I want to be a wife and mother, what greater purpose is there for a woman save to go into holy orders?

Bertram: What do you believe?

Gabriella: I believe in God and I believe in the love of Manuel and my family. I also believe in my own abilities to cope with any situation life presents.

Bertram: What makes you happy?

Gabriella: Many things make me happy, but when Manuel kisses me, I can’t think of anything but how happy I am. There is only one thing which would make me happier, and that would be to marry him.

Bertram: What are you afraid of?

Gabriella: I’m terrified of losing Manuel. If he were to die, what would become of us? Papa says only he can save us in this troubled time. If I lost him, I would have no reason to live.

Bertram: What makes you angry?

Gabriella: The fact that wretched spy is trying to kill us all! He is someone we know, a person who pretends to be our friend. He has all but ruined my life. If I had the skills, I would find and slay him myself.

Bertram: What makes you sad?

Gabriella: The loss of my mother makes me sad, as does the death of Manuel’s beloved aunt. Though they are in a better place, I miss them both very much.

Bertram: What do you regret?

Gabriella: That I with all my education, I never learned how to shoot a pistol.

Bertram: Has anyone ever betrayed you?

Gabriella: Yes, the man who spies on us, using our friendship against us. He betrays me, my family, and my home. I hope I have a hand in bringing him to justice.

Bertram: Have you ever failed anyone?

Gabriella: I hope not. I will only have failed them if I do not find the spy and send him to God early for judgement.

Bertram: What was your childhood like?

Gabriella: Delightful in so many ways, but also sad because we lost Mama when I was five and Grandmama not long after. However, Papa and his new wife, Clara, have provided a loving home for the four of us. My older sisters, little brother, and I have lived in relative comfort our entire lives.

Bertram: Do you like remembering your childhood?

Gabriella: Oh, yes, very much! I have wonderful memories of my childhood.

Bertram: Who was your first love?

Gabriella: My first and only love is Manuel. I never realized how much he loves me nor I him, until he declared his love for me on my birthday. He is the most magnificent man alive and I love him more than my own life.

Bertram: What is your most prized possession?

Gabriella: My peso necklace, because Manuel gave it to me. Though my parents gave me pearls for my birthday, the peso shows Manuel’s love for me. He can’t ask me to marry him, it wouldn’t be proper, but that shows each of us our promise to wed.

Bertram: What is your favorite scent?

Gabriella: Sandalwood., because that is the scent of Manuel’s soap.

Bertram: What is your favorite color?

Gabriella: Apple green, because it was Mama’s favorite as well, and I am most like her of all three of us girls.

Bertram: What is your favorite music?

Gabriella: The flamenco I danced with Manuel.

Bertram: What is your favorite item of clothing

Gabriella: The apple green dress I wore to my party. It is the first dress I wore that showed everyone I am now a woman. And because Manuel and I danced the entire night together when I wore it.

Bertram: If you had the power to change one thing in the world that didn’t affect you personally, what would it be?

Gabriella: I think I’d like the Spanish and the English not to hate one another so much.

Bertram: What makes you think that change would be for the better? There would be less fighting and conflict in the world.

Bertram: If you were stranded on a desert island, would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

Gabriella: Do not think badly of me of saying this, but I would want to be stranded only with Manuel.  I can think of no one else with whom I have enough in common to spend any period of time. Only if we were married, of course. Anything else would be scandalous!

Bertram: How do you envision your future?

Gabriella: I see my future happily married to Manuel, having his children and loving him for the rest of my life.

Bertram: I hope you get your wish. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Alden Cameron Lindsay Scott, the Duke of Buccleuch and Monmouth, and the Hero of A Love Out of Time by Mairead Walpole

Bertram: Before we get started, why don’t you introduce yourself.

Alden: My name is Alden Cameron Lindsay Scott, but my friends call me Alden.

Bertram: Is it true that you are a member of the titled aristocracy?

Alden: Er, yes I was and currently am the Duke of Buccleuch and Monmouth but as my wife will tell you, that and plane fare will take me anywhere I want to go.

Bertram: What is your problem in the story?

Alden: That question assumes that I had a single problem. The story sets up several problems for me. The first problem is losing the woman I felt to be my soul mate in a freak riding accident. The second is somehow walking 129 years into the future and into the arms of the woman who my soul-mate reincarnated into. The third is getting dragged back into my own time and not knowing how or if I can ever get back to her.

Bertram: Since you are here now, can we assume that you do return to this time?

Alden: Sorry, but you’ll have to read Mairead Walpole‘s A Love Out of Time to find out the specifics.

Bertram: Can you give us just a hint?

Alden: I can neither confirm nor deny anything. Mairead will sic Taly on both of us and trust me, you do not want to deal with that guy in a temper.

Bertram: Who is Taly?

Alden: You would know better recognize him as the Merlin Taliesin but he prefers to go by Taly. He is a Formorian and the head Time Sentinel. Anything that deals in time travel has to be cleared through him before being revealed to mortals and/or humans.

Bertram: Are you saying that Merlin is neither a mortal or human?

Alden: I really can’t go into that and I fear I may have revealed too much as it is. Can we get back to the interview questions that Mairead has approved through the Time Sentinels and Guardians?

Bertram: Who are the Time Sentinels and Guardians? Not going to answer that either? Then, do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Alden: Mairead did a good job in capturing my looks and basic personality but I think she downplayed some of my confusion and discomfort with finding myself in the 21st century. I appreciate her tact but I come off as much more in control of my emotions than I really was.

Bertram: What do you mean?

Alden: Well, take the first night I found myself in this time period. I saw so much that was new and amazing like cell phones and computers, it was truly mind boggling. Then I was given clothing that in my time would have been considered laborer garb and these things that passed for shoes. I was just getting adjusted to what I was wearing when Olivia walked in the room in her low-rise jeans and that blouse…it was…um…positively shocking.

Bertram: Who’s Olivia? You’re shaking your head, so it seems that’s another question you won’t answer. Were you offended by what she was wearing?

 Alden:Oh no, offended is not exactly the word I would use. I am not sure I can use the word that comes to mind when I think of my impression of how Olivia was dressed in this forum. Let’s just say that I was seriously, um, unsettled. In my time, one did not acknowledge that women even had legs!

Bertram: What was the most difficult transition for you?

Alden: That is a hard one. I guess the hardest concept for me to accept was that a man had walked on the moon. I am still not completely convinced of that but I have experienced stranger things over the course of my acquaintence with Taly and he assures me that it did happen.

Bertram: What are you afraid of?

Alden: Losing Olivia. If something were to happen to her, I don’t know what I would do without her.

Bertram: What, if anything, haunts you?

Alden: That we haven’t seen or heard the last of Jack Horton and before you ask another question I can’t answer, you’ll have to read the book.

Bertram: Since you’re short on specifics, maybe there’s another way to let readers get a sense of who you are. For example, what are five items in your pockets?

Alden: The keys to my Porche, season tickets to the Virginia Opera that I plan to surprise Olivia with, my wallet, my grandfather’s pocket watch, and about 82 cents in spare change.

Bertram: What are the last three books you read?

Alden: EE Knight’s Fall with Honor, JJ Dare’s False Positive, and Laz Barnhill’s The Medicine People. Both Dare and Barnhill are authors from Second Wind Publishing. If I could, I’d like to use this opportunity to put in a shameless plug for all the authors from Second Wind Publishing. There is something for everyone, no matter what your favorite genre is. Mairead Walpole is – obviously – my favorite. If I didn’t say that I think she might kill me off in her next novel for this series.

Bertram: So A Love Out of Time is the first in a series?

Alden: Yes. The series is built around the non-human races that co-exist with humans. The second book in the series is about Olivia’s sister Jocelyn and an old acquaintence of mine, who isn’t what I thought he was, i.e., human. Not to worry, Lucian is a good guy and he is exactly what Jocelyn needs whether she accepts it or not. I can’t say anymore about that story, so don’t ask. Mairead is being rather quiet about it.

Bertram: I guess we’ll have to wait for more information as the story develops. Let’s go back to questions you will answer. If you were at a store now, what ten items would be in your shopping cart?

Alden: That all depends on the store, now doesn’t it? If I were in a grocery store, those items would be: cream cheese, ground lamb, patty pan squash, onions, organic skim milk, nutmeg, greek yogurt, figs, spinach, and garlic. If I were in one of those discount or one stop shopping stores like a Wal-mart or Target, who knows? I tend to go a bit crazy in those shops. 21st century shoppers have such a wide variety of items to purchase. Olivia doesn’t like it when I go to a Wal-mart or a Target. I buy gadgets we don’t really need.

Bertram: Your grocery items are a bit intriguing. It almost sounds like a receipe. Is it?

Alden: Yes, I have found that I love to cook and play around with food tastes and combinations. I was creating in the kitchen several weeks ago and created a recipe for stuffed patty pan squash that Olivia loves. When I was a boy, I loved to visit the kitchens. We had a cook as well as a chef and they let me sit by the hearth and sample their creations. Mother and Father entertained a good bit when we were in the country as well as in town, Father being a member of the House of Lords. Thankfully, Olivia also grew up with a love of fine dining. Don’t get me wrong, we both love down-home southern cooking from time to time but cooking and eating is a hobby we both enjoy.

Bertram: How do you both stay so fit?

Alden: We stay physically active. Both of us like to run and hike. One of Olivia’s sisters recently opened a gym and we both have a membership there.

Bertram: How do you envision your future?

Alden: Happy. Seriously, I’d like to say something profound but if nothing else this adventure through time has taught me to cherish the here and now because the future you think you’ll have may not come to pass and if spend time thinking of what might have been, you will miss the present.

Dante, the Hero of Nora’s Soul, Written by Margay Leah Justice

Bertram: Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Dante.

Dante: Just Dante.

Bertram: Okay. Dante. I’m pleased you consented to this interview. We are all interested in your story.

Dante: I am my story. I am the hero of every story.

Bertram: I’m not sure I understand. Let’s start with a simple question. Where you live?

Dante: I live everywhere.

Bertram: Everywhere? What are you, some kind of god?

Dante: I am immortal, but I take what I can, where I can, and live it up like a mortal. I control my own destiny. I am what I want to be.

Bertram: Aren’t you what Margay Leah Justice wants you to be?

Dante: She might think so. She’s made a good start, but there is so much about me that she doesn’t know, so much more that still I have to tell her. But I have every confidence that when I do, she will do a fine job of portraying me the way I want to be. She is such a stickler for accurate portrayals, after all. And she loves me. She just doesn’t know it yet. But I’m working on her. I’ve already convinced her to keep me around for a while.

Bertram: Do you love her?

Dante: I love only Lyric. She was all that mattered to me. My life was damned after I lost her. Now I live in the moment.

Bertram: Living in the moment must be adventurous.

Dante: My existence is an adventure.

Bertram: We don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Maybe it would be better if you just told me a little about yourself.

Dante: I like myself. I like everything about me. What’s not to love?

Bertram: Have you ever failed at anything?

Dante: Of course.

Bertram: Has anyone ever failed you?

Dante: I’d rather not get into that.

Bertram: Have you ever failed anyone?

Dante: You are obsessed with questions of failure. Why is that, I wonder?

Bertram: Perhaps if you’d just answer my questions we could get this interview over with. You don’t seem to be enjoying it any more than I am. And Margay promised you would cooperate.

Dante: It wasn’t for Margay to promise, but you’re right. Let’s get this over with. What do you want to know?

Bertram: Your achievements, fears, hopes, sadnesses, regrets, disappointments.

Dante: Those are all questions for mortals. I don’t bog myself down with petty human emotions. Disappointments? Not on my radar.

Bertram: What about favorites? Food? Drink? Music? Scent? Item of clothing. Prized possession? Favorite book?

Dante: I don’t need to eat or drink. I like classical music because it reminds me of heaven, and I love lavender because it reminds me of Lyric. I have no favorite clothes-they all look good on me. I don’t need possessions. And I have no time for reading. Anything else?

Bertram: You must do something. Do you have any special skills?

Dante: Oh, I am very skillful, but I don’t like to brag . . . Let’s just say the ladies love me.

Bertram: Do you have any distinguishing marks?

Dante: Careful. I think that could fall in the unmentionables category.

Bertram: Look. Just give me something, and I’ll tell Margay everything went fine.

Dante: Peter. I’ll give you Peter. He’s my only real problem. Why won’t he just step away and let me have a little fun, already? It’s a good thing I love to create conflict. And where better to be than right in the thick of it? Run from conflict? Ha!

Bertram: What is your most closely guarded secret?

Dante: If I told you, it would no longer be a secret. I’m no fool. But I’ll tell you one thing, life is made for living. Now I have to go see what I can do about stirring up a little conflict.

Bertram: Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to reading your story.

Dante: I’m sure that’s true. All you mortals want to live like me, you’re just too afraid to take the chance. So you’ll have to make do with the book. It will be availabe in November by Second Wind Publishing.

Siegfried Marggrander, close friend and brother-in-law of Gus LeGarde, of the LeGarde Mystery series, written by Aaron Lazar.

Bertram: Mr. Marggrander, thank you for making time to join us. We seem to have trouble getting on Gus LeGarde’s calendar. And your author friend, Lazar, is just as hard to nail down.

Siegfried: Kein problem. I mean, that is not a problem. Sorry if I speak a little in German. Sometimes it is what comes out of my mouth. And please, call me Siegfried. 

Bertram: Okay. Siegfried. Can you tell us a bit about your life on the LeGarde homestead? 

Siegfried: Home stead? 

Bertram: I mean the LeGarde property. 

Siegfried: Ah! Ja. I do. I live in the carriage house beside the barn. There is a nice room to sleep in, and a kitchen. But I mostly eat meals with the Professor and his family. His cooking is sehr gut

Bertram: You and Professor LeGarde have been through some challenging times. I’ve read the first three books that Aaron Lazar has written to chronicle your . . . adventures together and was frankly astounded that so much could happen in such a short time. Can you comment on that? 

Siegfried: How so much has happened to us? Is that what you mean? 

Bertram: It seems as if you two are magnets for danger. 

Siegfried: Ja! I know. Trouble follows Gus and me. But part of it is not just coincidence. There is evil in the world, and we must stop it where we can. 

Bertram: Can you give us an example, Siegfried? 

Siegfried: Ja. Like last summer. A little while ago we returned from Germany, where I visited my Aunt Frieda. She is not well and . . . 

Bertram: And? What happened?

Siegfried: We ran into some very bad men in Paris. They want to be Nazis, like those who killed my mother’s family in Buchenwald. Gus says they are “neo-Nazis. My mother was Jewish, and I am half. Her parents and brothers and sisters were killed there. She was the only one left. Aunt Frieda took care of her when she got out of the camp. When the Americans saved them. 

Bertram: I heard something about you and Gus getting in a brawl over in Paris, on the Champs D’Elysees. Is that right? 

Siegfried: Ja, ja. My face still hurts. They tried to make me join the parade. They were marching in Paris. The Nazis. I am German, you know. My hair is light, but I am half-Jewish. But I got mad. Very mad. 

Bertram: And their leader was killed? 

Siegfried: Ja, but I did not kill him. He had a knife. A big one. And we fought on the street. His friend tried to shoot me, but I flipped Müller over just when his friend fired the gun. Herr Müller was killed. 

Bertram: The CNN report I saw made it look like you and Gus were responsible for Müller’s death. Did that cause problems for you?

Siegfried: Too many. They took me from my aunt’s house in Denkendorf and put me in a cell. It was in the woods, in Austria. Many men came to train with guns. They shot at targets and chased people in the woods. Sometimes they died. 

Bertram: Did anything good happen to you on that European trip? 

Siegfried: Ja! We had a boat ride on the Seine, and good croissants. I ate too many. And Gus found the same church that is in the Hunchback movie, which I watch with Johnny. 

Bertram: Why is this new book of Mr. Lazar’s called MAZURKA? What does it have to do with your European trip? 

Siegfried: Aaron told me not to talk about the mazurka. Not yet. It is a surprise. But he said I can tell you that we made some unusual discoveries about Frederick Chopin. You see, Gus studies Chopin and writes a book about him. He wanted to learn more in Europe, before the bad guys got in our way. Aaron’s publisher said the book cover is ready and he is waiting for the books to be printed. 

Bertram: We’ll look forward to seeing this one, the fourth in Lazar’s series. Do you think he’ll write more?

Siegfried: I hope he does not. That would mean our lives are normal for a while, Ja? No bad guys to chase! But something tells me it might not be so easy . . .