This is part of the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off character interview series! Every year, Mark Lawrence (he of Prince of Thorns fame!) heads up a contest where 300 self-published fantasy novels duke it out to be the favourite of 10 respected fantasy bloggers and reviewers. You can read more about the contest and follow along on Mark's website here.
I wanted to meet a few of their characters and introduce you to them as well.
Next up is Paul Bonhomme from C.N. Rowan's Imperfect Magic.
Just as she's thinking about the question, Princess Livia disappears in a flash of green light and smoke. Evyn waves the smoke away, coughing and peering into the cloud. Were any books damaged? Oh, wait, shouldn't she be more worried about a rogue mage or mancer?
The dust settles, and standing there in Earthian-style jeans and a jacket, is a guy. Well, a guy with green electricity curling around his fists.
Uh oh. Special Forces aren't going to like this, and neither is the head librarian.
"Um, hi. There's something strange going on, people are popping in from other worlds, but sit tight and I'm sure you'll be okay."
The guy doesn't seem particularly fazed, glancing around the shelves surrounding us and then taking a seat. "At least I'm not being chased this time."
This time, huh? "Where are you supposed to be? Maybe I can work with that."
"I live in the south of France, in a city called Toulouse. UnTalented called it La Ville En Rose which means Pink City. I call it ‘mine, so get your hands off and bugger off before I chop them off and feed them to you’."
I hold up my hands. "Sure, absolutely, I don't want to, like, invade it or anything, I'm trying to figure out how to get you home. So, uh, what do you do?" Perhaps they did something that triggered their appearance here. I grab a spare piece of paper and begin scribbling down Livia's answers to compare with this one's.
He says, "I haven’t held a job for *looks at watch for no apparent reason* about 800 years. The last one I held was as a Cathar Perfect, our equivalent of a priest. That came crashing down in flames when the Crusaders fed us into the pyre. I tried taking on the role of ‘dead body’ but it didn’t stick. So now I hold the territory of Toulouse. I mean, not literally hold. My hands would have to be flipping massive. But it belongs to me. What do I want to do with my day? Chill out with a pint or two. Of whisky. What do I actually do? End up getting involved in some stupid trouble or other that ends up with me dying. Repeatedly."
The paper under my fingers crumples slightly, the quill wavering. "Er.... dying? Repeatedly?"
"Yeah, I’m not mad about the whole ‘writhing in extreme agony while your organs shut down and shock refuses to set in, the sod’. I like that I get the chance to get a do-over. Life, excruciating pain or not, is still better than the alternative."
"Um, that's delightfully positive, I suppose." Think, Evyn! "What about any strange markings or birthmarks, maybe you activated one of those or... something." I wither under his glare. "I know I'm clutching at straws, but tattoos are important here."
"I don't have any. It’s hard getting the ink to take when I’m lucky if the body lasts much over 24 hours. My best friend Aicha Kandicha has a siyala tattoo. It’s a traditional Moroccan Berber tattoo, a line that splits lip to chin, with branches off and dots between to mark the passage into womanhood. I like to say it’s a tribute to Post Malone. Quietly. Very, very quietly. Mainly because I don’t want her to write ‘dickhead’ on my eyeball with a tattoo needle gun."
"What about other worlds or dimensions? Can you travel between them?" I suspect we can, and this seems like, well, living proof. Unless his claims of dying again and again are... exaggerated.
"There’s definitely other realms and dimensions. I know there are ‘angels’--" he says this while making air quotes, "--or higher vibrational beings, because my mentor and father figure Isaac the Blind, who is not actually blind, but is absolutely the creator of Kabbalah, shares his body with a Bene Elohim. Plus there’s Faerie, still accessible through some portals. I know that because I’ve had to deal with the Fae sometimes. Preferably with an iron spike considering the ‘Fair Folk’ is the biggest misnomer known to man or beast."
I fight the urge to clap my hands and lose. "Tell me more! I've been trying to find out how to open more portals, but..." I watch his face fall into a grimace. "I guess that's a stupid idea, right?"
He waves a hand in the air. "Some people are glass-half-full, like Isaac. Some glass-half-empty like Aicha. I’m more of a ‘how about we go and just nick a couple of bottles and drink enough whisky we can’t see the glass anymore’ kind of guy. So go for it. Might be fun."
I scribble down 'Caution on the portals.' I mean, I was going to be cautious anyway, but some extra evidence might help sway my gung-ho my soul companion.
"So how do you open them..." The guy is gone, with a ruffle of pages from the books on the shelves.
Congrats to C.N. Rowan!
Can Evyn get to the source of what's going on? Tune in next time to meet whoever gets pulled through next.