Ethan Allen Doyle from SPARE CHANGE by Bette Lee Crosby

Who are you?

My name’s Ethan Allen Doyle, I’m an eleven-year old kid and I ain’t the hero of this story, but I got more troubles than any ten heroes ought to have. I suppose you could say Grandma Olivia is the hero, but it sure didn’t start out that way. Matter of fact, Grandma Olivia never even wanted kids, never mind an eleven-year-old boy with trouble dogging his heels.

Where do you live?

Me, my Mama and Daddy lived on a farm smack in the middle of nowhere—folks claim it’s the Eastern Shore of Virginia, but Mama used to say it was the ass end of the earth. ‘Course I don’t where I’m gonna live now, guess that depends on whether or not Grandma Olivia changes her way of thinking about kids.

Do you run from conflict?

I got no choice but to run; if I stay here Scooter Cobb is gonna blast my butt to kingdom come. And, telling the truth ain’t an option—whose gonna take the word of a kid over that of a policeman?

How do you see yourself?

I see myself as the most unluckiest kid in the world; I got a dead Mama, a dead Daddy, and a policeman’s daddy looking to kill me. Is that unlucky enough for you?

How do your enemies see you?

Right now, I ain’t all that sure who’s my enemy and who’s not. I know for sure Scooter Cobb is, he’s got a sneaky suspicion I know the truth of what happened to Daddy so he’d rather see me dead than alive. And, I got a notion his son Sam, feels the same; with Sam being a policeman things are just gonna get worse. That other detective, Jack Mahoney, I’m not too sure about him.

What do you think of yourself?

I’m nobody’s fool; I know trouble when I see it and I can generally figure my way around it. Mama says I’m a lot like her, but there’s one difference—when Daddy gets ugly, she eggs him on, me, I just up and disappear.

Do you have a hero?

Yeah, I reckon my hero is Grandma Olivia; she had guts enough to stand up the Cobbs. She told me not to worry ‘cause we got God on our side, ‘course the Cobbs got guns and meanness on their side, but Grandma Olivia didn’t seem to let that bother her none.

Do you have a goal?

‘Course I got a goal—stayin’ alive! When Mama was alive we was thinking we’d go to New York City so she could be a singing star, but that plan’s shot to hell, so stayin’ alive is the next best thing.

What are your achievements?

Getting outta Scooter Cobb’s house for one thing. I come up with that plan by myself, nobody was slipping me some good escaping suggestions that’s for sure. Okay, I was scared when my foot missed and I started sliding off the roof, but I didn’t give in to screaming or anything; a lot of kids would’ve been yelling for their mama, but not me—yelling for Mama wouldn’t of done me no good anyway.

What makes you happy?

I like when the Orioles win; ‘course they don’t win much so I ain’t got a lot to be happy about. I used to be happy when Mama talked about me n’ her going to New York City. I figured if we ever got there, I was gonna see a New York Yankees game. The Yankees, now that’s a team you can be happy about.

What makes you sad?

Thinking about Mama lying in the driveway like she was taking a nap and thinking about Daddy with his head squashed open; and of course knowing I ain’t never gonna see that Yankee game I was counting on.

Are you lucky?

You gotta be kidding me! I done told you, I’m the most unlucky kid in the world! If I was lucky, me and Mama would be in New York eating a bunch of hot dogs and watching a Yankee game.

Did you get along with your parents?

Yeah, we got along okay. With Daddy I mostly stayed outta his way, but Mama and me, we had ourselves some good times talking about all the stuff we was gonna do. Mama wasn’t like most mamas, she didn’t like cooking and cleaning, she said life was too short for such nonsense, she said we was put on earth to be happy and that’s what she was trying to do. I felt real good when Mama said I took after her and was not like Daddy; I never wanted to be like Daddy.

Was there ever a defining moment in your life?

Yeah, when I found Mister Porter’s shotgun in the basement, if it wasn’t for that rusted old shotgun Grandma Olivia and me would both be dead. I would’ve preferred finding some shells for the Browning ‘cause a rifle’s a lot more accurate than a shotgun, but luckily things worked out okay anyway.

What is your most prized possession?

Is a dog a possession? ‘Cause if he is, then I’d say Dog. If a dog ain’t a possession, then I guess it’s a toss-up between my catcher’s mitt and those birthday cards I got from the grandpa I ain’t ever met. If I didn’t have those cards, I’d of never found Grandma Olivia.

How do you envision your future?

That’s a funny question. Anyway, I done seen the story of how I growed up, so I know what I become; but I ain’t saying. If you really wanna know, then you gotta read Grandma Olivia’s story—‘cause that’s the God’s honest truth of how it was.

SPARE CHANGE by Bette Lee Crosby

Available on Amazon – http://tinyurl.com/3nvn4nc Also on Kindle & Nook

Lord Charles Danvers, Hero of “A Most Inconvenient Death” by Donna Fletcher Crow

I see we have a newcomer in our interview chair. Please tell us who you are and where you live.

Yes, please allow me to introduce myself. I am Charles, the sixth Viscount Danvers. In the year of our Lord 1848, 11th in the reign of our glorious and good Queen Victoria, long may she live. If I may be permitted to acquaint you with my family I’ll explain that my father, the Earl of Norville, is at Norwood, his Northamptonshire estate, but will no doubt remove to his London residence when Parliament convenes. My eldest sister, Lady Estella Burroway, has one son and two daughters and lives most of the time in London where Margaret and Eleanor, our younger sisters, make their home with her. Our brother Frederick William, at Oxford, completes the family. As to my own residence, although I keep a house in London no place has been home to me since the tragic death of my beloved Charlotte.

Oh, I’m so sorry. Do you mind talking about her?

The lovely Lady Charlotte Auchincloss was my first love, my only love. We would now be celebrating our first wedding anniversary had not I. . .

Yes? Please go on.

Had I not insisted on taking Charlotte for a picnic on the day of a sudden, drenching rain that produced the pneumonia that caused her death. Let me explain. It began as a day of golden sunshine, and Charlotte, thinking we were merely going to the lake at the end of the park, had instructed her maid to bring only her lightest shawl. But I, idiot that I was, took a notion into my head to visit a picturesque ruined abbey in a far corner of Northamptonshire and then ignored the gathering clouds to walk the extensive grounds. I even took time to sing to her.

So you like music?

My late mother, the countess, had a fine soprano voice. She and my father were always at the opera. As the eldest son it was my fortune to inherit her love of operatic music, if not her talent. Singing favorite arias to Charlotte’s accompaniment— no matter how little my notes may have matched those played on the pianoforte— was been a link to my childhood. But now all music is gone from my life.

Do you have other hobbies?

I have a very philosophical mind, although of late I have assiduously avoided opportunities for introspection as they lead me only deeper into the doldrums. Since outgrowing the youthful religious fancy that had led me at the age of sixteen to consider taking holy orders, in recent years I have taken refuge in the popular philosophers of the day. But since the autumn past, the autumn that was to have brought life’s greatest joy to my life, in wedded bliss, I have found nothing that could bring pleasure or even solace. So I have chosen the only available recourse— escaping in a balloon.

You’re an Aeronaut! Where do you plan to go?

My man Hardy and I shall be flying to Ketteringham Hall in Norfolk, the seat of an old family friend, Sir John Boileau. Jack, the eldest Boileau son is celebrating his coming of age and the do is to be a countywide event with dinners and bonfires, brass band, I don’t know what all else of a brouhaha. As you can imagine, not my sort of event, but family duty and all that.

Is there a story behind that?

Ah, yes, indeed. Sir John and my father served together in the Rifle Brigade in the Netherlands. At Waterloo. At least my father was. Sir John— or John Peter as Father still calls him— was on leave in England. He posted night and day to get back in time for the great battle but arrived twenty-four hours too late. Father still tells the story— I imagine Sir John does too.

As it turns out, it was enormously lucky for my father— Boileau arrived in time to search the battlefield for him and found him wounded— would have died if Boileau hadn’t brought him in. So here I am, the official representative of the Danvers family for the coming-of-age.

Will there be events other than the coming of age celebrations?

Unlikely. It’s a rather quiet corner of Norfolk. But should anything untoward happen— a grisly murder in the neighbourhood or anything of that sort— unlikely as that is— Sir John, as the local magistrate would be the first to be called. And I must say that I have an inquiring mind and a driving sense of justice, so I rather fancy that I could be of some assistance if any investigations should present themselves. I might add that I am insistent for all the details and scrupulously honest— even if the answers are unpleasant. But that’s all conjecture. Nothing will happen.

Do you know who any of the other guests will be?

There’s certain to be a houseful. The Dowager Duchess of Aethelbert who used to dance with my father at Almack’s a generation ago, for one. I’ll admit to a certain fondness for her outspoken ascorbic tongue, although she frightens most people.

And then, I suppose Lady Antonia Hoover will be there. We were childhood friends, but I haven’t seen much of her this past year. Well, to tell the truth, I haven’t seen much of anyone the past year. As the daughter of the third Baron of Breene, Antonia is accustomed to being the belle of every ball— even when there was no ball in progress.

As I said, I’ve known Antonia all of my life. Indeed, we’re acquaintances of such long standing that we call each other by our first names in an informal moment. And yet I barely know her. To the world she’s always fashionably coy and flirtatious, but I’ve at times at times glimpsed flashes of what appear to be a caring, intelligent person underneath. With her copper curls and fragile features she appears as delicate as the roses and lace she’s so fond of, and yet I suspected a strength underneath.

Thank you for stopping by. I do wish you a pleasant journey in your aerostat.

Yes, thank you. There’s Hardy now, come to tell me he’s ready to cast off, no doubt. At least we have a fine fall day. This crisp November air is perfect for flying.

***

Lord Charles Danvers, still in mourning for his lost love Charlotte, hopes to find escape from his ghosts at the country estate of his oldest friend Sir John Boileau. The events surrounding the coming of age of Sir John’s son and heir have much of Norfolk astir— until the peace of an autumn evening is shattered by a brutal murder.

The police are quick to point to a quarrelsome farmer but Lord Danvers has his doubts. As the local magistrate, Sir John has an interest in the investigation. But is the real connection much closer to home? And does Danvers owe the greater loyalty to an old friend or to the truth?

Then Danvers is even more unsettled by the entrance of the alluring Lady Antonia Hoover.

First in the Lord Danvers Mysteries, this a Victorian true crime novel. The Stanfield Hall Murders were the sensation they are portrayed to be, the elaborate coming of age celebrations and the ensuing dramatic trial are all recorded history. Lord Charles Danvers, his irrepressible man Hardy and their pioneering aeronautical adventures are the novelists’ contribution.

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 36 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning GLASTONBURY, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE, book 1 in the Monastery Murders series is her reentry into publishing after a 10 year hiatus. Book 2 A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH is newly released in the UK, and she is at work on book 3 AN UNHOLY COMMUNION scheduled for 2012.

The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries, is a romantic intrigue series using literary figures as background: Dorothy L Sayers in THE SHADOW OF REALITY and Shakespeare in A MIDSUMMER EVE’S NIGHTMARE.

The Daughters of Courage, KATHRYN, ELIZABETH and STEPHANIE is a pioneer family saga based on the stories of Donna’s own family and other Idaho pioneers in the Kuna, Nampa and Boise area.

Donna and her husband live in Boise. They have 4 adult children and 10 grandchildren. Donna is remembered by Idahoans with long memories as a former Queen of the Snake River Stampede, Miss Rodeo Idaho and runner-up for Miss Rodeo America. She is an enthusiastic gardener.

To see the book video for A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE and pictures from Donna’s garden and research trips go to: http://www.DonnaFletcherCrow.com.
Her blog is at: http://www.donnafletchercrow.com/articles.php
and you can follow her on Facebook at: http://ning.it/eLjgYp

Laura Hamilton, hero of “Over Her Dead Body” by Karen Vaughn.

Are you the hero of your own story?

Maybe I am — maybe I am more of a death magnet

What is your problem in the story?

My upstairs elderly neighbor is found murdered

Can you tell us something else about yourself?

I am a personnel manager at my cousins restaurant The Moose Burger Emporium

Do you embrace or run from conflict?

I am never sure if I find trouble or it finds me and lands in my lap. I’d prefer not to deal with it; but I do if I have to and end up kicking ass big time

How do you see yourself?

Basically, I am a reasonably strong personally. I have a panic disorder but fight usually comes before flight

How do your friends see you?

strong, funny and cute

How do your enemies see you?

I hope I make them tremble with fear–like “oh crap she’s awake”

How does the author see you?

strong funny and sarcastic as hell –I think I am what she wants to be.

Do you agree with her analysis of you?

pretty accurate

What do you think of yourself?

I can handle most

Do you have a goal?

just to stay one step ahead of the bad guys–and no dead bodies for a little while.

Do you keep your achievements to yourself?

mostly I try not over play talking down a midget or battling killer bimbos

Do you have any special strengths?

I can truss up a little person in 5 minutes

Do you have any special weaknesses?

I crumble sometimes and i am a sucker for make-up sex

What do you regret?

How I handled breaking up with Lou

What, if anything, haunts you?

losing a baby years ago

Has anyone ever betrayed you?

Lou with his announcement that he was gay

Did anything newsworthy happen on the day you were born?

Saigon fell to the Viet Cong

Was there ever a defining moment of your life?

When I met Gerry again

What is your most closely guarded secret?

Not sure if I can have more kids due to my miscarriage but its fun to try.

Do you have any hobbies?

Besides fighting villains when necessary I play a mean game of poker

What is your favorite item of clothing?

pair of sweats and a hoody comfort clothes

Name five items in your pockets.

Kleenex, loose change, pack of gum, spare car key, cell phone

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

a man, preferably Gerry

Maggie, Hero of Love Rules by Rita Hestand

Who are you?

My name is Maggie, the Rebels call me the “Black widow.” I’m a northern spy and a runaway slave. I’m a little over eighteen now, been livin’ here in this shack in Arkansas for thee long years by myself. All I got to do is report what I see to the Federals and I can stay here.

What is your problem in the story?

I’m a runaway slave who is trying to keep a roof over my head and the only way to do it is to spy for the Federals. I don’t like doin’ it, but what choice do I have. All of this created more enemies for me after the war was over. The prison guards wanted to kill me. I was supposed to hang for bein’ a spy, but they found out I was pregnant and couldn’t hang a innocent. This made the guards even madder, thinking it unjust.

Do you have a problem that wasn’t mentioned in the story?

Well…sort of. You see I ain’t never had a man before and I sorta went crazy when I first seen Jesse. I wanted him so bad. I never knew I could want a man like that. I let him have me any way he wanted, and enjoyed every minute of it. I was so young and foolish, but I just couldn’t help myself.

How do you see yourself.

I’m a mullato, half black and half white, daughter of a plantation owner and slave. I never meant to hurt anyone, I was just trying to get by. I want what every woman wants, home, family, a man to love her. Who’d have thought I’d fall for a white man…but I did. He was gorgeous and something inside me heated up the minute I looked at him.

How do your enemies see you?

Naturally the Rebs think I’m poison, that I meant to kill all those soldiers. Truth is I didn’t think much on it till I met Jesse, then everything changed.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Oh she got me down good. “Cept I didn’t know I was that sexy, but I won’t complain. Jessie and I made love like we invented the word. Lovin’ Jesse made me come alive as a woman.

Do you have a hero?

Sort of….Jesse is the nicest man I’ve ever known. The only white man I ever knowed that don’t see color. He sees you for what you are!

Do you have any special weaknesses?

Oh yeah, but I didn’t know about them till Jesse came along. I had a weakness for him. He was so handsome lying there, I couldn’t keep my hands off the man. I wanted him like no other man I ever knew. Deep down, I knew what I was doin’ when I brought him to my cabin. But, have you ever met someone and just knew you had to be with them. I fell in love….with Jesse from the moment I laid eyes on him.

What are you afraid of?

I thought I might lost Jesse when I went to report to the Federals after we made love all night long and he finally went to sleep. But I had to do it, you understand. They would have come after me for not reporting in.

What makes you angry?

That those guards blame me for all those men dyin’ at Pea Ridge. I wasn’t the only spy. I didn’t pull the trigger, I wasn’t even there. All I did was tell them where they were, that’s all!

What makes you sad?

That those men died…and I guess if I was truthful that it was my fault. I have to live with that guilt for the rest of my life. It ain’t easy. I was wrong to do it, I see that now.

What do you regret?

Going to the Federals after Jesse made passionate love to me. It was hard to do, but I was scared, and I knew they’d come lookin’ fer me.

What is your biggest disappointment? Jesse turnin me in like he did, He knew I’d go to prison. Bein’ black made it worse too. I couldn’t believe he could make love to me like he did and then turn me in. I figured he didn’t love me at all.

Do you have any distinguishing marks?

Oh yes, where my daddy whipped me. My daddy was the plantation owner and I tried to escape a lot. We lived in Louisana and I finally made it out of there with the help of the man who should have been my father all along. Only he died helping me escape. He was a good man.

Who is your true love?

Jesse Coleman, I knew it when he let me and Abby live there in his cabin and respected all my foolish Love Rules I set up. But mind you I had to set them up. When we first met we was foolish kids, but being grown, we had to act like adults. Sex was great, but I wanted the stability of a home and a man that loved me not just for my body. I had to know how Jesse felt about ME and our baby.

Was there a major turning point in your life? Oh yes, the day I looked down into that Reb’s face and fell in love with a complete stranger…a white man. I didn’t believe in love.

What is your most closely guarded secret?

Just how much and how deep my love is for Jesse Coleman. After the war I came looking for the cabin he told me about. I used the excuse I guess of wanting his protection, when what I really wanted was his love, and for us to be a family. But I had to know if he really loved me, or just wanted me like some whore. I needed to know if what we shared was deeper than that for him. Abby was his daughter, would he love her? I had to give him a chance to prove it to me, because I loved him so. Needed him so. So I set those Love Rules up. Jesse hated them, but he was a good man and I did trust him despite what he’d done to me. I needed to know if we could make it together or not. If he could live with the Love Rules, then I knew we could. Trouble was, I wasn’t at all sure I could endure my own rules.

http://www.decadentpublishing.com
http://www.ritaphestand.com

Click here for an interview with: Victor Frank, villain of Better Off Without Her by Rita Hestand

Megan, Hero of “Flower Child” by Sheila Deeth

Flower Child by Sheila Deeth: When Megan miscarries her first pregnancy it feels like the end of everything; instead it’s the start of a curious relationship between the grieving mother and an unborn child who hovers somewhere between ghost and angel. Angela, Megan’s “little angel” has character and dreams all her own, friends who may or may not be real angels, and a little brother who brings hope to her mother’s world. But Angela’s dream-world has a secret and one day Angela might learn how to be real.

Today, I am interviewing the hero of Flower Child. Who are you?

My name’s Megan.

Are you the hero of your own story?

I’m a stay-at-home Mom with one child. Do stay-at-home Mom’s have stories?

What is your problem in the story?

My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage — left me feeling like I’d failed my child somehow.

How do you see yourself?

I think I’m a good-enough Mom. I hope I am. But I wish I was better. I wish I wasn’t a failure.

How do your friends see you?

I think they think I’m falling apart. They might be right.

Do you have a goal?

I guess my goal’s to be a better Mom, but I wish you could change the past so I could be a better Mom to the child I lost.

What are your achievements?

I have a healthy son.

What do you want?

Closure?

What do you believe?

My husband says I believe in fairy tales.

What, if anything, haunts you?

My daughter? I just wonder sometimes…

Have you ever failed anyone?

Yes, her.

Do you keep your promises?

I try.

Are you honorable?

I think so.

Are you healthy?

Mostly.

What is your most closely guarded secret?

She is.

Thank you, Sheila. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Thanks for this chance to interview Megan from Flower Child — coming soon from Gypsy Shadow (http://gypsyshadow.com/SheilaDeeth.html). More info on my website (http://sheiladeeth.weebly.com)

Click here to read an excerpt from: Flower Child

Click here to read an interview with: Sheila Deeth

Ariel Sharpe, Hero of “Dinétah Dragon” by Don A. Martinez

What is your story?

There’s two books which are sources for my story, from different perspectives. One of them is “The Advance Guard,” which only tells a small portion of it from an outside view. The other is “Dinétah Dragon,” which is where I get my turn to tell the tale.

Who are you?

My name is Ariel Sharpe. People who get to know me … and they are few and far between … are usually either trying to use me, or trying to help me. I think I like those who try to help much better than those who try to use, considering that people of the latter type turned me into what I am now.

I should mention a few things I’ve done in my life. I left the Navajo reservation at 18 to attend the Virginia Military Institute. After graduating from VMI I joined the Navy. While in the Navy, I went into an experimental unit, which wound up turning me into a dragon.

Where do you live?

Me and my family … my mother, close friends, husband, and daughter … we live on the Navajo land in Arizona. I’m afraid I can’t be any more specific about it, because we’re living in a state of exile from the rest of the world, just to prevent our respective powers from being used in a bad way.

Are you the hero of your own story?

I am. It’s my life’s story, after all. I’d feel pretty foolish if I wasn’t the hero of my own life.

How do you see yourself?

I’ve tried as much as possible to stay out of people’s way. I have dreams I want to pursue, but I don’t want them to come at others’ expense. I am a spiritual person. I usually find comfort in religion, although in some of my adventures with my friends I’ve had to directly confront negative aspects of it.

How do your friends see you?

My friends really tend to feel sympathy for me. Ken Sharpe, the man who found me on the street after I ran away from the experiment, was very concerned with my well-being, like a father. His son Cole had some trouble at first, because he felt that I had taken his father away from him, but soon he came around and now we couldn’t possibly be closer. The other two members of our team have differing ways of looking at me. Cyrus Salem, he’s a magic user, and he sees me as kind of a pupil, someone he can teach about the world, or how to deal with the unusual fights we wind up in. Kitty Lazarus, the other woman on the team, is a really good friend, the first I’ve been able to have real girl-talk with despite our differing personalities: she’s very much a tomboy, though she tends to lose that aspect of herself whenever Cyrus is involved.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

I really think Don A. Martinez did a very good job. When I read his transcription of our interview, I felt all of the emotions he had elicited from me rising back to the surface. I laughed, I cried … just like I had during the interview itself. He truly did just put down what the recorder played back. I even forgave his little notes, because he’s more of a journalist, after all. I even liked the “Advance Guard” portrayal, because it was also accurate.

Do you have a hero?

I have two heroes in my life. One of them is my single Navajo mother, who raised me and taught me to be who I am. I credit much of my personality to her, and to my Aunt Irene, her best friend from down in the canyon. My other hero would be Ken Sharpe, who rescued me from the street and brought me into his new family, our family bound by duty and honor. He’s even more of a hero due to his role as the Guardsman, God’s knight-errant.

Do you have any special strengths?

The secret experiment initially linked me to a massive dragon, which the experiment named 37A. As the link became more and more prevalent, I started physically changing, growing green scaly skin and fins on my forearms. Shortly after my escape, when the experiment came looking for me, out of defensive measures I completely bonded with 37A, and she became permanently a part of me. At first I only figured out how to sprout wings from my back, but eventually I discovered that I could not only breathe fire, but if I needed to I could completely grow into a full dragon which looks like 37A, only with my hair.

Do you have any special weaknesses?

Depression and loneliness. I am very prone to both of these. Sometimes it can be triggered by little things, like comments or hurt feelings, but other times it comes on after major trauma, like Ken’s death, or the time Kitty was captured. I also have a tendency to fall so deeply into depression that I’ll try to take my own life.

What makes you happy?

Friendship, peace, and family. I’ve not been happier in my life than I have been with Cole. We have a bond, of course, through his father, but more than that we understand each other on a spiritual, soul level. I even know that I was meant to be his, because I’ve seen him in near-death visions, pleading for me to remain alive.

What makes you sad?

When my friends are hurt, or dying, this makes me very sad. My saddest memories are of the death of my college roommate, and the death of Ken. I think if I ever lost Cole, my life would truly be over, that’s how sad even the thought of his death is to me.

What, if anything, haunts you?

My visions haunt me. I’ve seen nearly the same vision, every time I’ve tried to kill myself. In the space between life and death, I’ve had various figures appear to me and tell me to live, because my living allows the existence of the love that will save a life. I’ve puzzled over this thought for years, trying to figure out what “the love that will save a life” means. Whose life? What is being loved that will save that life? I don’t know.

Have you ever failed at anything?

When I went into the Navy, it was to become a pilot. I tried and tried to get into flight school, but because I had attempted suicide while in college, I was told that my psych profile overruled any applications I put in. If only they knew that I’d wind up flying anyway … just not in a plane.

Has anyone ever betrayed you?

Two men have betrayed me in my life, one more painfully than the other. One was someone I worked with, who was my commander, and he turned on the team and on me. The other was just too painful, it was a man I’d known since I was a teenager, who I trusted and placed my undying faith in, only to have him use that faith against me and all of humanity.

Do you have any handicaps?

I suppose the biggest handicap I have is my appearance. I initially thought it was monstrous, having this scaly flesh, a red eye, and fins coming out of my forearms, but with the support and love of my friends, especially Kitty and Cole, I’ve realized that I’m not quite as monstrous as I think I am. I do, however, have a backup plan for going out in public, and that’s my Holographic Self-Image Projector, which makes me look like a normal human.

What in your past would you like to forget?

Above all, it would be a high school slumber party. There were some very hurtful things that were done to me, just because I was a loner and didn’t tend to have a lot of boyfriends. I prefer not to talk too much about it.

Who is your true love?

I think above all, it would have to be Cole. He is my soul mate. I feel like we were destined to be together, just by our both being influenced by Ken. He is the Guardsman now, in his father’s stead. In fact, Sharpe blood now runs deeply through my life, and it’s all thanks to Cole.

How do you envision your future?

I see us finding the peace we have earned, with my family by my side. I see Alanna, my daughter, living up to her birthright and becoming a Guardswoman, like her father and ancestors before her. Most of all, I see us being happy and living out our lives peacefully after all the adventure we have shared.

Where are the books available?

“The Advance Guard” and “Dinétah Dragon” are available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers; digitally via Kindle, Nook, and GoodReads; and through Desert Coyote Productions, http://desertcoyote.weebly.com.

Gloria Lopes, Hero of “Go Down Hard” by Craig Faustus Buck

Who are you?

My name is Gloria Lopes. That rhymes with hopes. My grandfather was Argentine but for some reason the Spanish pronunciation didn’t stick. Don’t ask me why. Even my Dad doesn’t know, and he still speaks with a Spanish accent. I was with the LAPD for 18 years, rose to Lieutenant, homicide, before the shit hit the fan. Don’t ask. I guess you could call me a private security consultant now. I’m single though my boyfriend, the baptist dentist, keeps asking me to marry him. Drives me nuts. Not that I don’t love the guy, but I’m philosophically allergic to monogamy. Moral constraints give me the heebie-jeebies. I can’t imagine depriving myself of variety in sexual partners, just as I would never give up variety in foods, books, or music. I can be faithful emotionally, but that’s as far as I go.

Where do you live?

I live in a Spanish Colonial fourplex, built sometime in the 1930s in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. My apartment has hand-crafted archways, thick stucco walls, a Mexican-tiled fireplace, built-in cupboards and shelf-nooks whose edges have been softened over the years by layers upon layers of paint. Not fancy but blooming with character. After all these years I still love coming home. I’ve furnished the place with treasures from the Goodwill. A few downtrodden antiques, a little modern, some rustic, some shabby chic. No two chairs match or even hail from the same decade, but I think it feels homey.

Do you embrace conflict?

I wouldn’t say I embrace it, I just seem to attract it. Maybe it’s because I tend to speak my mind and pack a mean left hook. I also pack a Glock.

How do your friends see you?

I don’t have too many friends since I left the force. Most of my cop friends see me as a professional liability. I guess my best friend is Nob Brown, the guy who wrote that book about Lana Strain, the rock star who got murdered in the early ’90s. He’s an ex-cop, too. And we sleep together when he’s not in a relationship, which is usually. When he has a girlfriend, I leave him alone. I’m into free love, but I’m no homewrecker. I’ve never slept with a married man unless his wife was participating.

How do your enemies see you?

I don’t know. I try not to speak to my enemies if I can help it, and when I don’t have a choice, we’re usually talking about something more pressing than their feelings about me.

How does your author see you?

What author?

Do you have a hero?

No. Every hero I’ve ever had disappointed me sooner or later to I’ve stopped trying. I’m not big on organized religion, though I sometimes go to a Black Baptist church for the music, but I think they’re onto something with that false idol thing.

Do you have a goal?

World peace. Zero crime. An end to poverty. And multiple orgasms.

Do you talk about your achievements?

No. And I have little patience for people who do.

Do you have any skills?

I read people well. I’ve been called an astute judge of character. I guess it’s from my years as a homicide dick. It’s a professional requirement. As I may have mentioned, I throw a mean left hook. I think my sexual skills are pretty polished, judging from the state I generally leave ‘em in. I’m pretty deft with a cocktail though I can’t cook to save my life–I could probably drop an elephant with my coffee. I’m a great shot with a side arm. And I’m a cheap drunk, which many men consider an attractive skill.

Do you have money troubles?

I didn’t until I lost my job. My needs are minimal and my lifestyle is cheap. But if don’t find some work pretty soon, I’m headed for skid row. I don’t exactly have a safety net seeing as how I’m about as close to my parents as Earth is to Pluto. And like that distant rock, I was demoted from their solar system one Thanksgiving when my sister decided to regale the family with highlights from my broad spectrum of sexual activities. I’d never even heard my father say “hell” before, much less “you dirty slut.” Said sister lives on the East Coast, which is still too close for comfort. That leaves my brother who, last time I checked, had a job in a rehab Ashram in the Punjab strapping cold-turkey patients to their beds. Welcome to my family. In a pinch, I could borrow some money from Nob, but only for a month or so.

What do you regret?

I regret getting sucker-punched out of a career. I gave a bad performance review to a dirty cop so he trumped up a sexual harassment claim against me. It was total bullshit, but certain rumors, which were more or less true, about my private life seemed to substantiate the charges. The thing is, I would never ever shit where I eat. LAPD personnel were absolutely off limits for any kind of sexual activity, including inuendo. My squad was my responsibility and I made sure the work environment was nonhostile. But I should have anticipated some sort of cheap shot from that cop. Instead, I painted a bullseye on my back to give him an easy target.

What, if anything, haunts you?

I gave a child up for adoption the year I graduated from the academy. He must be seventeen now. It’s not so much that I gave him up that haunts me, but that I never told his father about the pregnancy. It was a weird accident. A fellow cadet and I were having pretty amazing sex at a motel one afternoon when we heard a scream from the room next door. Not a scream of passion but the kind you might hear from a woman being waved around by a giant ape on the Empire State Building. The kind that grabs your attention like a bullet in the gut. Talk about coitus interruptus. By the second scream I was sliding off him and into my pants. The upshot was that I nailed a serial killer, but in the process neither the other cadet nor I realized his condom had come off inside me. That’s how I got pregnant. It seemed prudent not to tell the father at the time, but now he’s my best friend and that secret eats at my insides like a starving rat. I don’t even want to think about what might happen if Nob were to find out.

Do you keep your promises?

Without fail.

Are you healthy?

For a woman with a bullet wound between her breasts, I’m doing pretty well.

Was there ever a defining moment of your life?

I guess having a bullet go through me and into Nob was pretty defining. Especially since if I hadn’t been there to slow it down, he probably would have died. The bullet was headed straight for his heart. It missed mine by a half an inch. That sort of thing doesn’t exactly define as much as illuminate. It creates the sort of bond very few people have.

Do you have any hobbies?

Reading crime novels. Scuba diving. Collecting antique sexual devices. And using them.

What is your favorite beverage? Why?

I’m a gin drinker. Straight, on the rocks. Specifically Bombay, but I’m happy with Gordon’s or Hendricks or even Gilbeys. I love the juniper berry flavor. That’s why I can’t stomach Tanqueray. You just can’t taste the juniper.

What are the last three books you read?

Heart Sick — Chelsea Cain
Die a Little — Megan Abbot
Go Down Hard — Craig Faustus Buck (in manuscript, he’s still shopping it)

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

I’d go for a hermaphrodite. The best of both worlds.

How do you envision your future?

I don’t. I live for today. Tomorrow’s too iffy.

Click here for more information about: Craig Faustus Buck

August William Lepke, Hero of Treadwell, A Novel of Alaska Territory by Leonard Wayne Compton

What is your story?

I am one of the characters in the Gastineau Channel Quartet, of which Treadwell, A Novel of Alaska Territory, is the first book.

Who are you?

My name is August William Lepke. I am a detective with the Pinkerton Agency out of the Portland, Oregon office.

Where do you live?

Now I live in Juneau, Alaska Territory.

Are you the hero of your own story?

In heroes I do not believe. People do what they must, and are expected of them, to the best of their ability.

What is your problem in the story?

At first I just had a work to do, which was my job. Then I met this woman and suddenly I had a problem.

Do you have a problem that wasn’t mentioned in the story?

I was never comfortable with my father. He was a carpenter and worked with his hands all his life. He thought I should do the same thing but I wanted to see the world. He was killed when I had but twelve years. There was a part of me that felt relieved and I have always felt great personal shame for that exaltation of relief.

Do you embrace conflict?

No, but also I do not flee from it.

How do you see yourself?

As an honest, professional law enforcement officer.

How do your friends see you?

As someone who does what they say they will, steadfast and supportive.

How do your enemies see you?

(Laughs) As a walking nightmare, I hope.

How does the author see you?

He believes I am a better man than I think I am. But he portrays me honestly and objectively. I cannot ask for more than that.

What, if anything, haunts you?

I was once in the US Army and served in the Philippines during our war there. Once when I was on guard duty I shot a man who I thought was a saboteur. It turned out he was stealing food for his family. I can still see his dead, surprised face.

Have you ever failed at anything?

Like many men, I have failed at love.

Has anyone ever betrayed you?

Yes. A girl. I thought she was a woman, so perhaps my fault it was.

Do you keep your promises?

Always. I do not make them easily or thoughtlessly. But if I promise I will do something only death will prevent me from accomplishing it.

Have you ever had an adventure?

My whole life has been an adventure and I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way.

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

I would end the war in Europe before the United States can get into it.

Where can people learn more about you?

On Leonard Wayne Compton’s website: http://www.stoneycompton.com

See also: Interview with Leonard Wayne Compton, Author of Treadwell, A Novel of Alaska Territory

Sam Baahuhd, Hero of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy by Sandy Nathan

Character Interview for Pat Bertram, written by Sandy Nathan:
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy by Sandy Nathan
Sandy Nathan | Writing Inspirational and Visionary Fiction and Nonfiction : http://sandynathan.com
Buy Sandy’s Books: http://sandynathan.com/buy.htm
Synopsis of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy: Tomorrow morning, a nuclear holocaust will destroy the planet. Two people carry the keys to survival: a teenage boy and an intergalactic traveler.

This is a spoof TV interview of Sam Baahuhd, headman of the village on the Piermont estate in The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy. The year is 2199.

From the station’s advertising:
WNYC’S STAR REPORTER MEREDITH CARLISLE INTERVIEWS VILLAGE HEADMAN SAM BAAHUHD.
Join Meredith at Piermont Manor in the Hamptons! Our favorite investigator visits one of the poorest areas in America and one the USA’s greatest and oldest stately homes. Tune in at 3 PM for a view of life in the 22nd century.
WNYC––NEW YORK CITY’S ONLY NETWORK

At the shoot on the estate:
“Meredith, I don’t like it here,” my stylist says, backcombing my hair furiously. I sit at my dressing table on the estate’s lawn. I’m Meredith Carlisle. But everyone knows that.

“Did you see all the trees driving out here? Weird,” he whispers.

“It was very weird.” I turn to the rest of the crew. “Everyone: This is the country. They have trees in the country. We’ll do the show and get back to New York.”

“They don’t have that in the country,” Alfred, the director, points at the stone mansion stretching as far as we can see. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to get it all on camera.”

I stare at the enormous structure. The mansion is like a wedding cake made of granite. Breathtaking. “We’re at Piermont Manor. It was constructed in the 1800s, four hundred years ago. Nobody gets in here. We had to agree to interview this idiot to be allowed in. Who is he? Sam who?”

My crew edges toward the van. They’re freaked out by the acres of lawn and all the trees. The lack of skyscrapers. I take control.

“Alfred, where is the man we’re supposed to interview?”

“I asked those guys over there,” Alfred points to a group of very large men standing on the other side of the lawn. He cowers a bit.

“What did they say?” My crew’s undue nervousness is irritating.

The whites of Alfred’s eyes glint in the sunlight. “I don’t know what they said. They speak a foreign language.”

“Great. Why didn’t anyone find that out? Alyssa, you’re the production manager. Do we have a translator?”

“No, Meredith. I’ll try to find one.” Alyssa looks around helplessly.

“Oh, wait. Someone’s coming.” My jaw drops. I can’t stop looking at him. He’s the same as the mansion. Breathtaking. A huge man. Shoulders like forever. That chest. He strides out forcefully. Something wafts from him. Manliness.

My jaw drops farther as he gets closer. Also, my nostrils twitch. He’s dirty. It’s real dirt, not something applied by the makeup department. He appears to be sweating copiously. He takes off his hat. His graying hair is matted where the hat’s brow band pressed it tight.

“Hello there?” I extend my hand, despite my disgust at his grimy paw. “You must be Mr. . . “ I search for Alyssa and she mouths the pronunciation. “Baaaaah-huuhd.”

“Mr. Baaaaah-huuuhd.” I smile broadly.

“Ma name i’ Sam Baahuhd. A’m th’ headm’n o’ th’ vil’ an’ o’ersee’er o’ th’ big house.” He nods at the mansion.

“Oh,” I say. “Who?”

He repeats what he said.

“Do you have anyone who speaks English? I don’t speak your language.” He’s very appealing close up, if filthy. My heart flutters.

“Ah fergot tha’ yer not o’ th’ Hamptons. Been out here s’ long, we got our own way o’ talkin’. Ah’ll pretend yer th’ hooch man out at Jamayuh. Ah always speak proper English when ah’m w’ him. Canna make a deal otherwise. Can ye understand me?”

“Yes, Mr. . . .”

“Baahuhd. Ye say i’ like this, with th’ air comin’ from here.” He presses my belly, forcing the breath out of me. I feel faint. Something comes off of him, like a force. It’s wonderful.

“Baahuhd. I see. Well, we’re set up for the interview,” I indicate a couple of club chairs set on the mansion’s front terrace. “Any chance of us getting a peek inside?”

“Nah. Jeremy’s got ‘er wired up. Get any closer ‘n’ ye are an’ ye’ll nah go nowhere again.” He smiles, showing surprisingly white teeth.

“It’s electrified?”

“Yeah. An’ more. D’ ye know Jeremy Egerton?” I shake my head. “He’s the lady’s son, Mrs. Veronica Egerton. Ye know of her?”

“Oh, yes. Veronica Edgarton is famous. And rich. And beautiful. She’s the general’s . . .”

“Aye. She owns th’ big house an’ the village an’ all th’ rest around here. An’ me, too.”

“She owns you?”

“Might as well. Ye know why yer here t’day?”

“Yes. To interview you.” My cheeks tremble from smiling so much.

“Nah. Yer here because Jeremy Egerton sent word to let ye in.” He looks me in the eye. It’s terrifying, though thrilling. “If Jeremy hadn’t tol’ me to let ye in, ye woulda been chased back to th’ city th’ minute you set foot on this place. That was three hours ago, out on th’ road. Jus’ so we get straight on it.”

“Certainly, Mr. Baah . . .”

“Baahuhd.” He walks to one of the chairs and sits down. “OK. Le’s get this goin.’ Ah got work to do. What ‘er yer questions?”
“I thought that the natives of the Hamptons didn’t like to be asked questions.”

“We don’. Usually, we shoot before we get t’ askin’ questions. But ah figured this was a chance t’ say some things we don’ get t’ say.”

“And what’s that?”

“That we’re not animals. We’re in th’ Hamptons because we was born here, jus’ like ye were born in th’ city. Weren’t our fault. Weren’t our fault that we don’ have schools an’ have to work like we do. Weren’t our fault that we got nothin’.
“We risk our lives seein’ that the lady keeps that,” he tosses his head toward the mansion. “An’ we get very little thanks fer our trouble.”

“You risk your lives?”

“Yeah, lass. Th’ Hamptons is a dangerous place. We get th’ people who run away from th’ cities. Th’ people escape from th’ torture camps––there’s one o’er at Jamayuh, th’ next town down. We got the hooch runners an’ them that deal in the weed and mushrooms. An’ th feds. All of them is dangerous, an all of them want this place.” He smiles. “Coupla times a year, they come t’ get it.” The smile broadens. “Ain’t got it yet.”

“You fight to keep the estate for Mrs. Edgarton?” I’m shocked, but I shouldn’t be. The Hamptons are like the Wild West once was.

“I got plugged three times so far. Not countin’ the nicks.” He rubs his chest where he’s been shot. “Ah’m scarred up lak an ol’ bear. It’s war out here. Jus’ like in the cities.”

“We don’t have war. What are you talking about?”

“Whad’ya think th’ smoke runnin’ along the horizon is? There’s a war.”

“There’s no war. If there were, the government would have told us about it. President Charles says everything is fine.”

He nods his head and smirks. “When ye drove in, did ye happen t’ see big round bowls cut out o’ th’ ground,” he uses his hands to indicate large depressions, “all lined with cement? An’ wi’ long pointy things stickin’ out of ‘em, aimed at the sky?”

“Yes. They’re all over the place. President Charles said they’re satellite dishes to help our screen reception.”

“No, lass. They’re atomics. An’ they’re set to go off t’morrow morning. Early. All over th’ world.” He’s looking at me steadily. He’s so magnetic I almost believe . . .

No! I can’t believe what he’s suggesting. The president would lie? There’s going to be an atomic war? That’s treasonous. We’re in the Great Peace. Everyone knows that. A niggling thought about my daughter’s third grade teacher disappearing comes up. No, she took a leave of absence.

“I’m not going to listen to this.” I turn to Alfred. “Pack up, we’re going back.”

“No,” Sam says just a little bit louder than normal. Everyone freezes and looks at him. “Yer gonna get ev’ry thing ah say, an’ yer gonna play it on the tellie today. Tha’s why Jeremy let ye’ come out here. You gotta tell the people wha’t happenin’.”

“A nuclear war starting tomorrow? The government would have told us.” I’m shaken. For some crazy reason, I believe him and know that I’ll do what he says. “What will we do? Where can we go?”

“Yer gonna go back an’ show ‘er on th’ tellie,” he says to the others. Then he turns that million volt gaze on me. “Fer ye, there may be a way out. Yer a pretty thing. Ye could be one ‘a’ ma wives.” His smile is mesmerizing.

“Wives?” The idea seems worth considering.

“Ah got four. Ye’d be ma fifth, but we gotta big house. The stable, yon.” He points to a barn.

Fifth wife to . . . His dirty hands make up my mind. “No. I’ve already got one ex-husband. I don’t need to be married.” I regret the words as I say them. There’s something about him.

“OK. Ye’ll take th’ camera back t’ the city an’ play ‘er today. Ye need t’ tell the people to . . . to run. Or t’ stand. They’ll die, either way. But they d’serve a warnin’. Tis only fair.

“Tha’s what ah got t’ say. Now git. Ah’m done wi’ ye.”

I watch his back as he heads toward the stable. Broad shoulders. Easy gait. Powerful.

I feel drawn to him. No. I made the right choice. We have to get out of here.

“We’ve got the van packed, Meredith.” I hop in as it pulls away from the mansion.

“We can’t play what we got,” Alfred says as we jolt down the rutted road. “It’s treasonous. Everyone knows that the Great Peace is baloney. We’re in a war. But it’s covered up. This will blow the cover. The feds will kill us.”

“Yes, we can. Sam said to,” I’ll do what Sam told me to do no matter what. “We have to give people a warning.”

“Why, Meredith? There aren’t enough bomb shelters in the world to save everyone. We’re going to die.”

And then it sinks in. If what Sam said is true, we’ll die tomorrow.

I should have taken his offer. He wasn’t scared about what’s coming. He must have a shelter or something. “Turn around! We need to get back to the Piermont estate.”

The van shudders to a stop.

“What’s that?” There’s something in front of us. A vehicle across the road. Another vehicle pulls up behind us. Black figures are moving toward our van.

“What is it, Alfred?”

“They’re feds.”

“Open the door,” a black-clad commando yells. “Give me the cameras.” We give them to him.

“I’m Meredith Carlisle of WNYC. Those cameras are the property . . .”

“I don’t care who you are.” He uses some very rude language, and tosses something in the van, slamming the door. It clatters on the floor. I see a digital timer counting down.

“No!”

After the explosion, the commandos gather near the flaming remains of the van. “We got the treasonous materials. Should we look at them?”

“Nah. The president said everything is all right. That’s good enough for me.”

 

Grace Harmon Singer, Hero of “On the Choptank Shores” by Smoky Trudeau Zeidel

Welcome, Grace. What is your story?

I was born on April 12, 1909, in Pennsylvania. I had a sister, Emily, who was only ten months older than me. We were very close. But then, Emily died, and my grief-stricken father moved us to a small farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

I was content to be an only child, although I missed Emily terribly. I spent my days helping Mama in the garden, doing the mending, singing in the church choir.

But then, God gave us quite a surprise gift: Mama gave birth to twins, Matthew and Miriam. But that gift was not for us to share for very long. Matthew died of typhoid fever, and Mama, too broken by the loss of yet another child, died a year later. That left me to care for little Miriam and our father.

But Papa was changed. The loving man who had been our father became angry, bitter. He became abusive, especially toward Miriam, and he spouted Biblical verse to justify his behavior.

Lucky for me, I fell in love with a wonderful man, Otto Singer. When we married, I moved to his home on Windy Hill, and took Miriam with me. I thought things would at last be stable for my sister, and that I could raise her to have a normal life. But Papa would not let that happen. The rest of the story is beautifully told by my author, Smoky Trudeau Zeidel, in the book On the Choptank Shores.

What is your problem in the story?

My father, and his descent into madness. Understand, my father was a kind and loving man when I was a child. But the deaths of Emily, Matthew, and my mother were too much for him to handle. He went increasingly insane, and as he did so, he tried harder and harder to control me and to take Miriam away from me. I could not let that happen: he abused Miriam terribly, and spouted verses from the Bible to justify his abuse. Of course, he was taking them terribly out of context, but he would not listen to me, or to my husband Otto, or anyone else who tried to help him.

Unfortunately, Otto was struggling with demons of his own, demons I was not aware of when we wed. He believed he was responsible for the death of a young woman named Lily more than two decades earlier, in a tragic accident that left his brother, Henry, brain damaged. I don’t know why he felt he couldn’t tell me about what happened. Maybe his guilt was too strong; maybe it was his pride. But his story came to a head just as my father became totally deranged, and there I was, stuck in the middle, wanting to help my husband, help my father, and protect my sister, all at once.

So, did you embrace this conflict, or did you run from it?

Neither, really. No one likes conflict; we all want our lives to run smoothly, and we want to be happy, content. But neither could I run from the conflict in my life. It involved the people I hold most dear to my heart. I had to do what I could to save them, or I could not live with myself. As it is, there is a deep ache in my heart about how the conflict resolved itself in the end. I’m not ready to talk about that now, though. I think Smoky, my author, was able to sum up my feelings pretty well in the book, though.

How does your author, Smoky Trudeau Zeidel, see you? Do you think she portrayed you accurately?

I’m very pleased Smoky recognized me as a woman of quiet strength. Yes, I am young. I had my twentieth birthday only recently. But I mothered my sister for several years before marrying Otto, and of course, I continue to mother her now. I cared for my father as well as he would allow for as long as I could; I would have continued to care for him after my marriage if he had allowed it. Otto would gladly have built a room on our house for Papa, just as he did for Miriam. But it was not to be …

Yes, I believe Smoky portrayed me accurately. I put my family first in all things, but I also have the good sense to know I must keep my own strength up and take time to care for myself, Grace, in order to be able to be the wife and mother I need to be. She captured that in the book. I’m very proud of her for doing that.

You said your father spouts Biblical verse to justify his abuses. What do you believe, Grace?

I don’t believe in the violent, vengeful God my father espouses, the one found in so much of the Old Testament. I also don’t believe God meant for man to dominate woman, or for parent to abuse child. I believe in a kinder, gently God, a God with a feminine face. I believe in the God of Naamah, Noah’s wife, a story that is not in the Bible but which has been handed down from generation to generation through the women in my family, and other families as well. My mother told me the story of Naamah often as a child. Smoky relates it in On the Choptank Shores. It is a beautiful tale of a woman’s strength and the important role she plays here on earth.

What makes you happy?

My husband makes me happy. Seeing Miriam growing and thriving, despite all she has been through, makes me happy. Working in my garden, getting dirt and sand beneath my fingernails, watching my plants grow, knowing they will nourish my family, makes me happy. Reading a good book while sitting on the riverbank makes me happy. And the two gifts I receive at the end of Smoky’s book make me happy, although I’m not at liberty to say exactly what those gifts were.

Life makes me happy. I am a content person by nature, despite all that has transpired.

What is your greatest disappointment?

I believe there are two that are equally disappointing to me. One is that my siblings, Emily and Matthew, did not survive, and are not here with me today. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t miss Emily; she was my best friend as well as my sister. And Matthew was such a sweet little boy. When he died, he took a part of Miriam with him. They were twins, after all.

My second disappointment was that things could not have ended differently in On the Choptank Shores. Yes, in the end, Otto, Miriam, and I were all safe and happy. But things ended differently for other people we loved. And while I know it could not have ended any other way, I still have regrets.

Do you consider yourself lucky?

I consider myself blessed; I don’t know if luck has anything to do with it. I am blessed to have found this wonderful man, Otto, to love, and to be loved by him. I am blessed that Miriam is thriving. I am blessed to live here, in this special place on the shores of the Choptank River, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. There is much that is good in my life, and for which I am thankful.

What are you afraid of?

Goodness, I never really thought of it! Afraid of, afraid of … I’m not really afraid of anything that I can think of, although I detest earwigs! Earwigs in the garden give me the shivers, but when they get in the house, well, yes, I am afraid of them! Isn’t that the silliest fear on earth? To be afraid of a little bug like an earwig? Oh, and I’m not to crazy about centipedes, either. That’s very odd, being afraid of those two things. Usually, I really like insects. They play such a valuable role in nature, pollinating plants, doing what they do. But earwigs and centipedes? What was God thinking?

What is your most prized possession?

I don’t really have a lot of possessions. We live a pretty simple life. But I guess if I had to name one thing, it would be this pearl, here, in my wedding ring. We found it in an oyster we bought at the Oyster Shack when we stopped there to eat, the day we were married. It’s a beautiful pearl, isn’t it? We married so quickly, Otto hadn’t had time to buy me a ring, so he had it set in one for me. I never take it off, I treasure it so.

What are the last three books you read?

I love to read! Often, I can read a book a day; I guess if I was born with one God-given talent, it was my ability to read very quickly. The last three books I read were A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens; which was a very sad book with a wonderful, heroic ending; Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, which is a perennial favorite of mine; and Parnassus on Wheels, by Christopher Morley, a delightful tale if there ever was one!

Can you name five items that are in your purse?

Good heavens, what a question! Let me think! Hmmm, I have my handkerchief, my wallet, my change purse, my house key … the thing weighs ten pounds; there must be more in there than that! Oh! I know why it’s so heavy—I put a book in there, in case I had to wait a while to meet with you. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. No wonder it’s so heavy! That’s five!

Thank you for your patience, Grace. I just have one final question: If you had the power to change one thing in the world that didn’t affect you personally, what would it be?

We are all connected. What affects one, affects all, although we may not see it at the time. But if I did have the power to change one thing in the world, I would eliminate hate. Hatred is the root cause of evil; hatred causes war. If hatred were eliminated, if love was the predominant emotion on earth, the world would be a better place for all of us to live.

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Smoky Trudeau Zeidel is the author of two novels, On the Choptank Shores and The Cabin. She is also author of Observations of an Earth Mage, a photo/essay collection; and two books about writing. Smoky lives her life honoring Mother Earth through her writing, visual art, and spiritual practice. She lives in California with her husband Scott (a college music professor and classical guitarist), her daughter (a college student and actress), and a menagerie of animals, both domestic and wild, in a ramshackle cottage in the woods overlooking the San Gabriel Valley and Mountains beyond. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time hiking in the mountains and deserts, splashing in tidepools, and resisting the urge to speak in haiku.

You can find Smoky and her three blogs at www.SmokyZeidel.wordpress.com.

Click here to read an excerpt from: On the Choptank Shores

Click here for an interview with: Smoky Trudeau Zeidel