Good Day, Readers. My name is Rebecca Ryals Russell and it’s my pleasure today to interview several of the characters from the YA Seraphym Wars Series and Middle Grade Stardust Warriors Series. Our topic is Relationships with Parents and Families.
[Sitting in a circle facing me] We have with us Myrna Watts, Griffen Gilmore, Brigid Heulog, Zarena Nuara, Long Tu Lennon, Aedan McKay, Jeremiah Holyfield and a special guest, Belial the demon.
Reb: Hello everyone. How are you?
Myrna: Why are we here?
Reb: I wanted to ask you all a few questions about relationships, especially with parents.
Belial: [short, rather portly with piercing black eyes, roughened brown skin, looks about in his 40’s, voice is very deep, intimidating] I don’t have parents. Never did.
Reb: That’s okay. Maybe you can lend advice in other areas? [looks from one end of semi-circle of guests to other end] Let’s begin by each of you introducing who you are, your age, what your role is in the books. Myrna, we’ll start with you since your book came out first.
Myrna [sighs deeply then stands-she is average height and build with long, black curly hair and emerald green eyes]: I’m 17. Odessa of the Seraphym Wars Series for Young Adults is my story. I tell about the weird way I was ripped from my family and home only to be sent on a quest across a horrific world peopled by demons [she glares at Belial] and monsters. It came out in April 2011 from MuseItUp Publishing and is available anywhere eBooks are sold, like Amazon as well as the Museituppublishing.com bookstore.
Reb: Thank you Myrna. [she sits again with a huge sigh] Griffen, could you tell our readers a bit about who you are and why you’re here today?
Griffen: I’m here because you called me in.
Reb: Okay. And?
Griffen: [standing, we see that Griffen is tall and muscular with pure white hair in a ponytail down his back, new white mustache growth and startling amber eyes] Well. I’m Griffen Oisin Gilmore. I live on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with my mom. I’m 15. I recently finished telling my story about my journey on some weird planet called Dracwald. The book is called Harpies and is part of the Seraphym Wars Series for Young Adults. I think it comes out January 2012.
Reb: Griffen, your hair and eyes are rather unusual, especially for a human from Earth. Were you born that way?
Griffen: I was struck by lightning on a beach as I stood in the surf. It happened the night I was transported to Dracwald. I used to be brown haired.
[a girl with spikey blond hair laughs] Don’t blame me. I never struck you.
Reb: And are you Brigid?
Brigid: Yeah. And I didn’t hit him with any lightning, unless he’s a demon in disguise. [she glares at Belial]
Griffen: I never said you did. I just said I was struck. And by the way Missy, you’re not the only lightning thief here. I’ll draw against you any day of the week.
Reb: Guys, that’s okay. This is not a contest. We’re just getting to know one another. So Brigid, why don’t you tell us about yourself?
[a thin, frail girl stands, her straight black hair cascades down her back to her hips, when she looks at me I’m startled to see one bright blue eye and one dark brown one] It was my turn. I was next.
Reb: I’m sorry Long Tu. Would you mind Brigid, if Long Tu went next? [Brigid shakes her head]
Long Tu: I’m 8 years old, I think. My birth records were burned up at someone’s house long ago, but according to the social workers, I should be about 8. I help Zarena in the book Long Tu. [she giggles] I think it’s funny that the author called the book my name. I can talk with animals and they understand me, too. [she abruptly sits down]
Reb: Well, thank you Long Tu. Is your book part of the Middle Grade series called Stardust Warriors? [Zarena and Long Tu nod] Sounds as though you’ve had a rough time for someone so young. We’ll come back to you later and you can tell us what happened. Okay, Brigid, your turn now.
Brigid: [remains sitting with legs crossed; her sleeveless cotton dress displays the sun tattoo on her right shoulder] I’m Brigid Saulwen Heulog and I’m 16. I discovered when I was about 12, after my little sister died, that I could pull lightning from the sky as well as control other aspects of weather. My dad left us about a year after Selma’s death, so I live with my mom, brother and sister.
Reb: I’m sorry to hear about Selma. Did you see her die?
Brigid: Yeah. I was responsible.
Myrna: You were not. And she proved that to you in the swamp. You just couldn’t stop it—any more than I could stop the boys that burned Quinn to death.
Reb: Before we get into this, let’s finish introductions then I want to hear everything. Zarena, I believe you’re next.
Zarena: [closely resembling Myrna but younger, straight black hair with bangs, same emerald eyes] I’m 14 and like Myrna was asked to lead the Vigorios. Unlike Myrna, I was born on Dracwald, in Auriger, the capital city of Impirius and right under Narciss’s nose. Having grown up there, I guess I didn’t see the insidious evil until it was pointed out to me. Now I see it everywhere. And I am determined to put an end to it. [she turns and glares at Belial, then smiles at Jeremiah before sitting]
Reb: Jeremiah, tell us a bit about yourself.
[a tall, slim young man stands; he is garbed in a long cotton tunic, long brown hair is pulled back into a ponytail tied with a bit of leather, looks at each of us with icy blue eyes]
Jeremiah: Good Day all. My name is Jeremiah Holyfield. I am a member of the Holy Order called Conscientia. We are a group of 12 Seraphym created solely for the purpose of advising Laud. It was our Order who trained Myrna and Zarena for their quests.
Belial: You mean your Order interfered with the order of Dracwald. We had things running quite smoothly until Laud decided to call up these children against us. [harsh laugh that echoes around the room] as if they could do anything to stop us.
Reb: Belial, you’ll get a turn in a moment. Jeremiah, is there anything else you wanted to say?
Jeremiah: Only that we’re happy the Vigorios have come together and are preparing with the Majikals for battle.
Belial: [scowling] No amount of training can prepare them for the war we have planned. It’s all just a waste of time.
Reb: Belial, would you like to introduce yourself?
Belial: I’m one of Narciss’s Nefars. He newly appointed me when an opening became, uh, available, shall we say. I suspect there will be more openings shortly, but I wouldn’t expect more Fiends like myself to be stepping forward to fill them. Not if they value what little life they have.
Reb: Is it true you can shape-shift? And into what shapes?
Belial: Of course it’s true. We spend part of our days living among the residents of Dracwald, so of course we have to appear as they do. You have no idea how many of the so-called humans or residents of any other inhabitable planet are actually demons. Who do you think encourages all of the violence and torment, the bullying and criminal activities to grow? Who spreads the gluttony of drug abuse, sex, money and food? Who invents new diseases and reasons for countries to go to war?
Myrna: See? That’s what we’ve been fighting against! And not only can they look like us, but their true appearance is dragon. They live in caverns high in the mountains overlooking Auriger.
Reb: Okay. Let’s get to our purpose for being here. Tell us about your parents. What they do for a living. What kind of relationship you have with them.
[a young boy with flaming red hair and freckles that stand out like a starfield on the planetarium dome stands with small hands on hips] What about me? You asked me to come here and then just ignore me? I don’t think so, woman.
Reb: Oh! Aedan, I’m so sorry. We skipped right over you, didn’t we? I apologize. Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself now?
Aedan: [a scowl so deep his brows nearly touch in a vee] I’m Aedan Fergal McKay and I’m 10 years old. I live on a farm with my dad, stepmom, and a bunch of idiotic kids from both sides of the parenting pool, then one new one they made together.
Reb: This sounds like a good place to start our discussion of families, parents and relationships. Aedan, you sound bitter when you mention your family. Why?
Aedan: Don’t get me wrong. I loved my family when my real mom was alive and it was just Charley, Steffen and me. We were great. But then mom got real sick and died, but it took her about a year and that made it real hard of all of us; watching her sort of fade away. She was always so strong and happy—then she was so sick she couldn’t get out of bed. Then Dad, the Betrayer, married another lady and her three bratty teenagers had to come live with us. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Dad and the new lady had another baby and put it into my room! I already sleep in a broom closet ‘cause we ran out of bedrooms. So when the Seraphym came and told me to run away with Laman, I jumped at the chance. [looks at Griffen] Laman has the same white hair and yellow eyes ‘cause he was hit by lightning, too. Anyway, that’s my family story. I have no interest in ever going home.
Reb: That’s a sad story, Aedan. I’m sorry you feel homeless. I’m sure your parents miss you terribly and wonder where you are.
Aedan: The Seraphym said they’d take care of all that and my family would never miss me. So I’m happy and they don’t know any better.
Long Tu: Well I never even knew my parents. I was orphaned while still a tiny baby. They were pushing me across the street in a carriage when a car ran into them both and they died. Since we didn’t have any other family, I was put into one scary foster home after another. I even have the scars to prove it [she turns and starts to raise her shirt, showing us her back].
Zarena: [gently brushes Long Tu’s shirt back down and pats her shoulder] Honey, they don’t want to see your scars. [looks as us with tears running down her face] Trust me, everyone, they’re real. Some kid put his smokes out on her back over and over again while she was an infant. From the sounds of things I guess I was pretty lucky. I still have both parents, grew up on the wealthy Southside of Auriger. Mom is a teacher at the university and dad works for the government. I have a brother and sister, younger than me. And we pretty much loved one another and looked after each other.
Reb: Sounds lovely, Zarena. I guess hearing stories like Long Tu’s helps you appreciate your situation even more.
Brigid: Well we had a lovely family, too, until Selma died. Then everything fell apart. I guess I was a large part of that falling apart, though. But Mom didn’t exactly come through with flying colors, either. And after a year of mourning and nothing getting better at home, Dad gave up trying to get things back to normal and left for good. We all miss him. He comes for occasional visits, but not all that often anymore. He’s started a new family in another village nearer the mine where he works and it seems he’s pretty much forgotten about us. I have a really close relationship with my Mom, Tindra, and my brother, Ryan who’s 15 and Sheila, who’s 13. Mom has made sure we stay close. We cook together and help her in the classroom. She’s the village schoolteacher.
Belial: This is all putting me to sleep. Can I go now? I don’t have any parents—demon here! And I don’t give a flying flark about all these weepy, whiny children and their parent problems. [stands to leave]
Reb: That’s fine, Belial. Thank you for coming. [he growls and stomps out of the room—once the door shuts we hear a loud roar]
Myrna: He has a short fuse. We’ve had a few run-ins over the past year. Can’t say I’m sad to see him go.
Jeremiah: Yeah, he was making me a little nervous as well. You never know when a demon’s going to turn on you. They’re one being you can never trust.
Reb: Jeremiah, how about you. Did you have parents? Do Conscientia grow up?
Jeremiah: Essentially, Laud is our parent. He created us from Dark Matter and Stardust. We were created whole and complete, so there was no growing up. We instantly knew everything there was to know. But it is interesting to hear these young people talk about their various life experiences and such.
Reb: Myrna. You grew up on Earth. Tell us about your family.
Myrna: Well, Mom is an English Professor at Jacksonville City University in Florida. [she looks at Zarena, kinda like your mom] Mine’s already gotten me into the college even though I’m still a Senior in high school. I didn’t really want to go to college, but both of my parents expect it and if I want to keep the dough rolling in, I have to keep them happy. There’s no way I can make enough money to live like I want.
Reb: How about your father?
Myrna: Dad owns and runs the largest Advertising agency in the Southeast. He started it long before I was born, so by the time I came along we were doing okay financially. In fact, for my seventeenth birthday, Dad gave me a brand-new blue Tesla.
Reb: Isn’t that one of the new experimental cars?
Zarena: You got a car of your own? Around here, I mean on Dracwald, even kids of rich families, like mine, we never get out own car. We’re allowed to have one tricar per family and that’s it. I have a hoverscoot, but it’s not the same as having my own car.
Myrna: Yeah. It’s the only one in Jacksonville for sure. It’s one of the new electric cars but goes faster than any standard sports car. I should know. I already almost got a ticket, but Dad got me out of it ‘cause he knows everybody important.
Reb: That was pretty generous of him. I’m sure that Tesla cost him a pretty penny.
Myrna: I suppose. But he’s always been that way. Generous. Mom thinks he’s maybe a little too generous. After spending some time here on Dracwald I’m beginning to think she was right.
Reb: Oh? How is Dracwald different from Earth?
Myrna: Mother o’ pearl! I can’t begin to name the ways they’re different—every way you can think of. But I do know how much trouble I’ve had adjusting to having nothing—no cell phone, no computer, no cars, no smokes, no tacos or pizza. This planet is like Hell.
Maybe because it contains Hell. Only here they call it Tartarus and one of the main entrances is located in the mountains.
Aedan: Why do you say Tartarus is located on this planet?
Myrna: Because it is. The main opening to Hell, or Tartarus, is in a corner of Narciss’s den in the Lucimons Mountain Range.
Zarena: How do you know that?
Myrna: I’ve seen it. I get visions.
Reb: Myrna, you mentioned losing a brother and having to watch it. Was that a vision?
Myrna: Yeah. I used to have three siblings. I lost my favorite brother just before being sent here. My sister Marcy is fourteen and youngest brother Jarrod is eleven. I hope they’re alright. I wish every day I was there to help protect them—especially now that I know what’s going on. [She holds up a shining sword with runes carved down the center ridge] And I have this baby to deal with those monsters now.
[Aedan’s eyes grow round as coffee cups]
Reb: What happened to your other brother, if you don’t mind talking about it?
Myrna: [wipes her eyes then smiles weakly] Quinn was, uh, murdered. He was only sixteen. I saw it happen but couldn’t stop it. It was horrible. He burned to death because three boys with red eyes poured gasoline on him and lit him on fire. Then they stood around laughing at him while he screamed to death.
Brigid: The boys who bullied Selma to death had red eyes, too.
Reb: Brigid, you said it took awhile for you and your mother to get over Selma’s death?
Brigid: I blamed myself for not being there when she needed me. I know it was an accident. She hit her head on a rock when she fell. But Selma was Mom’s favorite and it took years for her to forgive me. Sometimes I see her looking at me with something strange in her eyes and wonder if she ever really did forgive me. I know Selma did. She told me so in the swamp.
Reb: So, have we heard from everyone about your family and parents?
Aedan: We haven’t heard from Laman, I mean Griffen. Sorry, dude.
Griffen: It’s okay. You remind me of Seth in our book. Can you make fire with your mind?
Aedan: Yeah. It’s so cool. I just learned it recently.
Reb: Griffen, tell us about your home.
Griffen: I’ve never known who my father was. He left as soon as mom found out she was pregnant. Actually, Mom says he was already married and the company shipped him away to another office when they found out. She was his secretary and the company didn’t want a scandal. But he never even tried to contact us and see how we’re doing or meet his son.
Reb: I’m sorry, Griffen. Tell us about your Mom.
Griffen: My mom’s amazing. She’s always there for me. As long as I can remember she’s worked double-shifts at the cannery so we could have our own cottage on the beach. She says she doesn’t want to be a burden to anyone and loves feeling independent.
Reb: Aren’t you a gamer?
Griffen: Yeah. It’s pretty much all I do, except going to school. I wouldn’t do that if I could get away with it. I wanted to quit next year, but Mom won’t let me. She says I need an education to make it in the world. She didn’t finish school ‘cause she got pregnant. So she’s insisting I go on to college and do something better with my life. I don’t know how we’ll pay for college. We barely have enough food to get through the week. Luckily they let Mom bring home dented cans of tuna and sardines, or whatever they’re canning at the time. And I have a pretty good friendship with the dude who runs the fresh produce stand, so he saves the stuff that’s on the verge of going bad.
Reb: Do you have any other siblings?
Griffen: Nope. Mom never married. It’s not that she hasn’t tried. She brings home nearly every single man that comes onto the island. She always has. She doesn’t sleep with them or anything—just tries them on for marriage. But as soon as they figure out her game they disappear. That’s what we argued about the night I got struck by lightning. I’m just so tired of her looking for someone else to share our lives with. We’re perfectly happy as we are—just the two of us.
Reb: You mentioned an island?
Griffen: We live on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I’m from Earth, too, like Myrna.
Reb: That’s right, you mentioned that at the beginning. Then you must have seen quite a few differences in your travels as well?
Griffen: Not as much as Myrna apparently. I traveled alone across hills and rivers and flatland for several weeks before meeting Seth [he looks at Aedan]. And then we traveled together until we met up with Aurora. She’s not here today. But most of our journey was by water and we didn’t meet a lot of people. Ran into a nasty Pernicon demon, though. And of course Belial. He was the one who hooked us up with a boat and driver. Sorry piece of flesh that he is.
Reb: Well I can’t tell you all what a pleasure this has been today. I enjoyed meeting each one of you and wish you all the best in your quests. May everything come out well for you in the end. And please, come back and tell us about your journeys when it’s all over. God Bless, or Laud Bless, depending on where you live.