I open a door in a long hallway and step into a room paneled with dark wood. The floor is covered with dark green rugs and bookshelves line most of the walls.
Two girls jump to their feet. Seventeen-year-old Renna wrings her hands while thirteen-year-old Brandi grins. I smile back and walk to the large, leather chair set behind an oak desk. “Make yourselves comfortable. Lord Alistair has graciously loaned us his study for this interview.”
Renna perches on the edge of her seat as if she wants to run. Brandi plops into her seat. I settle into the leather arm chair. Ah, yes. I could see why Lord Alistair likes this chair so much. I steeple my fingers and lean back in the chair feeling quite pleased with myself…until I realize that my feet are swinging freely several inches above the floor.
I have to stand up to drag the chair closer to the desk. I probably look ridiculous: a girl perched in the lord of Walden’s chair with her feet stretched to tiptoes to touch the floor.
“So, are you going to ask us questions or what?” Brandi bounces in her seat, her grin still playing across her face.
“In a minute. We’re still missing one person.” I stare at the curtains that separate a small windowseat from the rest of the room. “Leith Torren, stop hiding on that windowseat and come out here.”
An eighteen-year-old young man dressed all in black eases around the curtains. The lamplight winks on the hilts of the knives strapped to his waist and across his chest. Renna cranes her neck around. Her eyes widen, and she presses her hands to the armrests of the chair as if intending to push herself to her feet.
“It’s all right. Stay right there, Renna. You’re safe.” I wave at her to return to her seat. I point at the third seat I’d dragged into the room in preparation for this interview. “Leith, if you would please take your seat, we’ll finally get this interview started.”
He tiptoes across the room and slips into the chair next to Brandi. Her grin is so wide I’m almost her face will split in two. Leith stares at me with shadowed, green eyes. Wary. His hands twitch toward his knives.
I lean my elbows on the desk. “You haven’t forgiven me yet for using you as my escort to Jaye L. Knight’s Facebook Ball a few weeks ago, have you?”
He shakes his head, but the wary expression doesn’t relax.
I sigh and tug on my hair. “You talked with her character, Jace, didn’t you? He warned you about these interviews.”
Leith nods. I grimace. “I knew I shouldn’t have let you wander off at that Facebook Ball. Don’t worry. This won’t be nearly as intense as what Jaye put Jace through. Your story hasn’t been out long enough to gather too many fangirls yet.”
Brandi’s grin widens, and I’m suddenly glad I didn’t take her along. I could only imagine the kind of trouble she would’ve gotten into at a virtual ball. “Anyways, let’s go over a few ground rules. I’ve tried to word the questions so they won’t give anything away, but try to make sure you don’t say too many spoilers in your answers.”
Brandi rolls her eyes. “You’ve already given away loads of stuff.”
“What, really? What have I given away?” I glance from my notes to the three people sitting across the desk from me. “No, don’t tell me.” I straighten my notes. “First question: Renna, when did you first become interested in healing? Isn’t that a little unusual for a lady?”
Renna jumps at my question and stares at me for several minutes. I wait her out. She’ll answer if I give her enough time. She picks at her skirt. “I was eight when Uncle Abel and Aunt Mara moved to Stetterly. It was only a few weeks later that Brandi cut her finger, and Aunt Mara stitched it up. Watching her, I knew then that I wanted to learn to help people like Aunt Mara. My father and mother let me learn. My mother figured it would be a useful skill.”
“She was right.” I tap at my papers again. “Brandi, I think I already know the answer to this, but what is your favorite animal?”
“Horse, duh.” She crosses her arms. “And you totally did know the answer to that one. Actually, you know all our answers already.”
“Not always. Some of you are very good at hiding things from you.” I point at Leith. “For example, he didn’t think to share his father issues with me until most of the way through the first draft.”
Leith shrugs. “It’s not something I just tell people. I was forced into it.”
Renna huddles lowers in her chair. I scowl at her. “And you, young lady, didn’t think to tell me some of your issues until the fourth major revision.”
“I was scared.” She ducks even lower.
I resist the urge to bang my head on the desk. I’d done enough of that while writing. Why did I have to write a book with characters even more introverted than I am?
“Banging your head on the desk isn’t going to help anything.” Brandi’s smile is a bit too smug. “At least I never gave you any trouble.”
“Not that kind of trouble.” I tap my sheet. “Well, it looks like you all have managed to distract me from actually asking questions. Looks like all I have is time for one more question. Leith, what are you afraid of besides death and failure?”
He glances at Renna and Brandi before answering. “Snakes. I hate snakes. I once had a small grass snake crawl into my boot while I was sleeping. In the morning, it slithered out as I was pulling the boot on.” He shudders. “I always check my boots now before I put them on.”
I shudder as well. “I agree. I hate snakes.” I stand up. “That will be all for now. Let’s take a break before I ask you the next round of questions.”
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Does anyone have any questions that they would like to ask the characters when I bring them back for the next character chat?