Interviewing, or should that be interrogating characters?

A continuation of Writers Imagination, a land that exists in the minds of my critique partners and my own mind. Hope you enjoy this excerpt. 🙂

Shh!” I’ve been wanting to stalk her for aaages.”

“Who? What?” Elizabeth picked a leaf from her hair and stared up, up, up at the perfect blue and white house. “And what do these people do all day? This house is ridiculously tidy.”

“SHH! Keep your voice down.” Lucy skulked to an open window on the left side of the house. “And keep your head down. Someone might see you.”

She waved Elizabeth across. “The Montgomery’s. Posh people in my story. Jane’s parents.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth nodded, squinting up at the edge of a lace curtain that dared creep out on a breeze.

“Why don’t you just knock on the door?” Susan strode up the path, gravel scrabbling after her black boots. “Here, I’ll do it seeing as you two are cowering under a window.”

“I’m not…we’re not…. Don’t—!” Lucy covered her face as Susan grabbed the brass knocker and gave it a couple of not-so-subtle raps. “Tell me what’s happening, Lizzie. I can’t bear to look.”

Elizabeth’s ruffled shirt tickled her nose as she leaned past. “Hmm, let’s see….. Oh. There’s this older woman. Um, well rounded, dressed in pink. Lots of pink.”

Lucy peeped open one eye. “Is she smiling?”

“Uh huh. Hmm, let’s see…aha.”

“Oh, let me look. I can’t bear the suspense.” Lucy squeezed her head past Elizabeth’s and stickybeaked around the corner.

Susan glanced over and waved. “Come on over!” she called.

Lucy pulled her head back and groaned. “She’s done it again. Talk about push me to greater heights—or is it depths? —in my story.” She levered to her feet and helped Lizzie up. “C’mon then. Oh, but first we need this….” From her pocket she withdrew a vial and shook it over them.

With a sneeze Elizabeth transformed into the perfect Elizabethan lady, complete with bustle, kid gloves and button-up shoes. Lucy smoothed a lilac ruffle on her own outfit and held the vial aloft. “Just wait till I get this near Susan.”

They strolled to the porch and joined Susan.

“I’ve just been telling this delightful—” Susan arched a brow. “—lady here that we’ve travelled quite some distance to get here.” She waved a hand at herself, Lucy and Lizzie. “We are, of course from the W of CIA”

“Yes.” Lizzie held out a gloved hand. “Just here on a short item of business.”

“Mrs. Montgomery. So nice to meet you at last.” Lucy beamed at her and gave a short curtsy. “I’ve read all about you and the great work you’ve accomplished here in town.”

Mrs. M dimpled and flapped a hand. “Pish posh. Nothing that anyone in my place wouldn’t have done.”

“Of course, of course.” Lucy tried to wave the bottle near Susan while keeping her attention on Mrs. M. She gave up and tucked the vial away in a hidden pocket. “If I may, I’d love to have a short audience with your daughter, Jane. Oh, and Tyrone if he is available.”

“Hmmph. You’ve just missed them. I believe they’ve taken an item of furniture and were returning home. You might catch them on the road to their, er, ranch.”

“Thank you. We’ll do that.”

“Goodbye!”

Stepping off the porch, Susan tossed them each a small rolled up rug. “Here, use these. They’ll be quicker.”

“Ooh, goody. Magic carpets.” Elizabeth unrolled hers with a snap and sat on it just like one would at a church picnic. “I’ve always wanted to try one.”

“They’re brilliant. Whoever invented them should be knighted.” Susan stood on hers and leaned forward, captain of her carpet.

“I can’t—get the hang—of it.” Lucy hopped on one foot and tried to clamber onto her green swirled carpet. “Darned thing. Arrgh.” She hopped around the corner of the street, still trying to climb aboard her hovering carpet. “Just go on without me, I’ll catch up in a minute. Jane and Tyrone are headed up the main street and then out to the ranch. We’ve cut in at the end of Chapter 9 so that’s where they’ll be.”

“Good. We’ll do that.” Susan settled her Akubra more firmly on her head and clicked to her carpet.

“Wait up!” Lucy yelled. “Before you go…. What does ‘W of CIA’ stand for?”

Elizabeth spun her carpet on a dime and grinned. “Writers of Character Investigation Association, of course.” She leaned down, picked up the dime and then shot off after Susan.

“Character Investigation. I knew that,” Lucy muttered as she worked her lariat between her fingers. “Must have missed that online course. Oh well. Maybe Lizzie will lend me her notes.” She spun a perfect loop above her head and snagged the corner of her carpet. With a tug, it held. “Good. Now hi-ho, off we go. I’ve got a character to interrogate.”

The Rockies spun past in a grey-green blur as her carpet ticked off the few miles separating them from the Montgomery’s and her target.

A sparkle lit her eyes and a giant grin slipped over her face. “Oh, yes, my pretty. Now you’ll talk. Oh, yes, you will.”

***

“Oh, no I won’t.” Tyrone thrashed against his bonds. The lariat as effective as keeping him in the ladder backed chair as it had been in towing her behind her magic carpet. “I don’t know who you are, but you’ll get nothing from me.”

“I’m hurt.” Lucy glanced up at Susan, sitting on a rock and playing fetch with her flying Aussie. “Did you hear that? He doesn’t recognize my voice. I thought I had a distinct voice.”

“You do. Now hurry up. We’ve got to meet Braden yet. It’ll be darkfall soon.”

“What are you on about? That’s crazy talk. And where’s my wife?”

“Don’t you worry…Tyrone. She’s safe—as long as you answer my questions.”

“I already told you, lady. I aint telling you nuthin’.” Tyrone kicked the leg of his chair.

Lucy circled him, hands on her hips. “I’ve been watching you for some time now. Observing you. Taking notes even.”

He scowled, thick eyebrows drawing together over the bandana Elizabeth had tied over his eyes.

“Oh, yes. I’ve got all the superficial stuff.” Lucy stood in front of him and crossed her arms. “But I want the juicy stuff. The secrets.”

“I aint got any secrets. I’m a plain, hardworking rancher who’s more than a lil riled right now.”

“Really?” Lucy raised a brow. “So what about the book?”

“What book?”

She pulled a small notebook from her pocket and flipped open it’s brown cover. “I’ll read an except shall I? See if that jogs your memory. “Day Ten. Just so yer know, Ethan. I hate this stupid dare book. Romantic thing I done: I’m not going hunting. And before you mouth off about this not being romantic—it was important to Jane, so it counts.

With a growl, Tyrone threw himself forward. Elizabeth caught the back of his chair with a catching spell and lowered him back to safety.

“Ah. So you do remember it. I know you keep secrets.” Lucy shut the book with a snap. “Tell me about your father.”

He blanched white. “No.”

“Why not?”

“He’s dead. That’s all that matters.”

“Is he? I was under the impression he’d left to go gold hunting in California.”

“He’s dead to me,” Tyrone yelled. “Just leave it alone. Leave me alone.”

Susan glanced up and shook her head. “Squishy feelings.”

“I noticed,” Lucy mouthed back.

“So, Tyrone. What about Miss Jane? What are you going to do about her?”

“None of your business. And if you’ve hurt her,” he growled. “Lady or no, you’ll have me to deal with.”

“Oh? So you’d defend her?”

“Yes.”

“Die for her?”

He gave a slow nod. “Aye. If it came to that, yes.”

Lucy leaned back against a pine tree. “But will you live for her, that is the question?”

“What are you on about? I am living.”

“No, no.” Lucy uncrossed her arms. “I mean will you lay your own life down, you expectations of her, will you let her live her life-her way. Will you live your life in a way that gives her complete, loving freedom?”

“Who said anything about love?”

“Come on.” Susan brushed off her jeans and stood. “You’ll be there all day on that subject. We’ll reconvene another time and try again. We need to go.”

“Not me.” Elizabeth glanced at the sundial on her wrist. “I’ve got a prior appointment.”

“Oh?” Susan and Lucy raised their eyebrows at each other. “Big enough to miss Braeden’s deep, dark, dreadfully—”

“Don’t you dare say dull!” Susan cut in.

“Wouldn’t dream of it. I was going to say dastardly.”

“Sure you were.” Susan rolled her eyes.

“Excuse me? Can I go now, or are you going to leave me tied up forever?”

“Oops. Sorry.” With a flick of her Bowie knife, Lucy released him. Elizabeth held him in place with a tethering spell until they were all safely aboard their respective carpets. “There you go. Until next time.”

“There aint gonna be a—” His words grew fainter as they zoomed away.

“Now. Lizzie, dear. What can be so dreadfully important that you’d want to ditch us? Can we come? Please, please?”

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Writers Imagination and the characters that frequent that place.

Hi! Welcome to Writers Imagination. Yes, in case you were wondering, it’s an actual place. 🙂 Two of my critique partners and I share this story back and forth, adding a scene here and there and revealing all sorts of tidbits and characters that frequent that interesting place.

And for the record: I write Historical Romance, not Fantasy. Promise. I hope you enjoy this weeks edition. 🙂

A dragonfire tongue of warmth wound its way through Lucy’s middle. Drag Susan into a Historical Novel… It’s almost irresistible. She’s so deliciously low. So horribly dirty. I’ll take it! I’ll make a Duchess out of this draggle-tailed guttersnipe. She waved the line of script out of her face. “Go back to My Fair Lady. I’m thinking.”

Lucy focused on her friend opposite her. “Open your eyes, Susan.”

Susan shook her head. “No. It might be some horrid Edwardian drawing room.”

Lucy giggled. “Can’t you just smell the stuffy scent of gentleman’s cigars, and the chalky smell of ladies make-up…”

Susan groaned and clutched the carved arms of Lucy’s living room chair. “No way. You can’t make me look.”

Lucy smiled and slid a plate stacked high with lamingtons onto the table. “But all those smells are overlaid by the scent of cream cakes, and chocolate éclairs and—”

Susan’s eyes pried open. “Food sounds good.” Her mouth dropped open and she pointed. “What on earth is that?”

Lucy swiped a sweet off the plate, leaving a trail of coconut to her lap. “A lamington. Standard Aussie tucker. G’on, have one.”

Susan picked a square lamington off the fine bone china plate and turned it over in her hands. She broke off a corner and stared at it. “What’s it made of?”

Lucy swallowed her mouthful. “It’s a sponge cake, dunked in chocolate and then rolled in coconut.”

“Sponge?” Susan poked the cream colored middle that showed through the broken corner. “But that’s for wiping dishes.”

“Not in Australia. A sponge cake is a bit like an angel food cake.” Lucy started on a second lamington. “Just eat it, or I will.”

“I will, I will. In my own time.” Susan nibbled on her it for several minutes. “It’s not too bad. Better than being stuck in some drawing room with a bunch of overdressed ladies.”

Lucy dusted off her fingers, littering the sandwich plate in front of her with coconut crumbs. “Now, as I said, open your eyes.”

“They are open.”

“No, no. Look around. You are in a Historical Romance.”

Susan glanced around the room. “Um, I know you filled your story house here with prissy antiques, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been dragged into that era.”

“They’re not prissy…” Lucy arched a brow.

Susan reached over and bumped a side table. It wobbled and then settled back onto the brick that propped it up. “Hmmm, my point…”

“Not that one. It doesn’t count. He’s in training.”

“What on earth for?”

“The three legged race.”

Susan shook her head. “Now that’s just sad.”

Lucy smiled. “Sorry, couldn’t resist. But you are in a romance.”

“Ah—”

Lucy pointed out the bay window. “Look at all the houses. Look at the books. The threads that run through them are threads of love. Of romance. Of sacrifice, sometimes the ultimate sacrifice.”

“Umm, examples?”

Lucy wriggled back in her chair, rustling the satin of her gown. “Let’s take your story as an example…”

“Let’s not.”

“I’ll be kind. Here, have another lamo, and I’ll explain.”

Susan shook her head. “No, I’m watching my girlish figure.”

“Suit yourself. Now, where was I… oh yes. Romance in your fantasy story…” Lucy leaned back and drummed her fingertips on the table. “There is great examples of love in Lightrise. Of the extent that the great Lightkeeper himself went to provide a path for others to walk back to himself. The cast of thousands that work together, helping each other, caring, and showing hospitality.”

“Mm hmm. I suppose.”

Lucy fluttered her lashes. “And lets not forget Layna and Artek.”

Susan rolled her eyes. “No, can’t forget them.”

“So, you get my point. You’ve written a romance, like it or not.” Lucy folded her hands atop each other and tried not to look smug. “And seeing as you are in my story at the moment, you are in a historical romance. Ta da! Talk about sneaky. And you didn’t even know you in one.”

“Now, where the devil are my slippers?”

Susan turned and pointed. “What on earth is Rex Harrison doing here?”

“You mean apart from giving Ginger pointers in pronunciation?”

“What?” Susan swung back, mouth agape.

“Gotcha!” Lucy giggled. “No, he um, may have heard my mumbling something earlier and decided to pop in to help.”

Rex propped his thumbs behind his suspenders. “By George, it’s enormous. It’s the biggest offer I ever had.”

Susan leaned closer. “Does he have to be here? He’s weird.”

“I’ve been trying for a while now. He must have heard me talking about romance. For a gruff fronted fellow he knows a little about it.” Lucy stopped to dab the corners of her mouth with the cuff of her gown.

“Ahem.”

She looked up and accepted the handkerchief Rex held out.

He frowned at her. “Remember, that’s your handkerchief and that’s your sleeve. Don’t confuse the one with the other…”

Lucy ducked her head. “Thank you.” She kicked Susan under the table, just hard enough to get her attention.

“I think we need some help,” she hissed.

Susan held up a gadget the size of a rock but twice as shiny. “I’m dialling Elizabeth now.”

 

The Land of Writers Imagination.

Writers Imagination.

A friend and I are creating an epic fantasy story as we email back and forth based on a land I made up called “Writers Imagination”.

It is so much fun. Each email raises the bar in imagination and alliteration.

So far, we have all sorts of creatures and countryside that can only be identifiable if you are an author.

I’ll share a paragraph I wrote the other day, and then it’s your turn…

A myriad other stories bubbled in that dark, dank, corner of Writers Imagination called ‘Ideas Cauldron’. Quite a queer place, actually. Smells funny and the weirdest ideas pop out of the soupy, boggy ground to dance before you. Don’t visit that part of the land unless you have already exhausted the last lot of ideas you took home and got all the work you can out of them. They can be quite lazy you know, ideas that is. In Ideas Cauldron they speak quite convincingly of what they can do, and the things they know. So, arm in arm you skip home with them. Then they whine ‘oh, I don’t know anything else, that’s all I can think of,’ and ‘what do you mean you only got one sentence worth of work out of me?’ They seem quite content to sit and pout in a comfy chair in the corner and consume all the tea and biscuits in the house while you wait for them to start work again. Sigh.

What about you? What sort of characters/writers could you see living in this land? An older gentleman dressed in a tan waistcoat and a cheery face who, whenever I (briefly) visit Writers Imagination, he pops his head out of his door, with a tea cup and saucer and says, “More tea please, love.”

And just for the record—I am a Historical Romance writer—not a fantasy writer. I swear, and on a pile of tea cups and biscuits. 

I’d love to hear what sort things live in your Writers Imagination 🙂