Janie Franz: I’m a little nervous today because one of my characters is going to be interviewing me. She isn’t here just yet. This will give me time to tell you a little about the books she’s in. She isn’t one of my main characters but really walked right out of the pages and into my heart…..Shhhh. I really didn’t say that. She has quite a reputation of being a regular tomcat.
Bekar appears in the Bowdancer Saga, a new MuseItUp series that was first introduced in 2009 by another publisher. She popped up in the third book, Warrior Women, which MIU will release next year, along with the first two books: The Bowdancer and The Wayfarer’s Road. Earlier this year, MIU released the first two books of The Lost Song trilogy, Verses and Refrain (books 4 and 5 of the series), and expects the last book, Coda, to be out later this year.
The Bowdancer Saga follows the awakening of a young healer, Jan-nell, who discovers a wider world outside of her village. Bekar is one of several unusual characters she meets on her journey.
Bekar: Did I hear my name bantered about? (Turns a wooden kitchen chair around and drapes her long legs around it as she sprawls over the back while she bites into an apple.)
Janie Franz: My goodness, you’re here!
Bekar: Of course, I am here. You pulled me from that last tale into your realm. Is this magic?
Janie Franz: Of a sort, I suppose. Do you know who I am?
Bekar: (Nods as she crunches into the apple once more)
Janie Franz: Well? Do you have questions?
Bekar: (finishes chewing and produces a slow grin) Tell me why you thought me up?
Janie Franz: I really didn’t have you in mind when I wrote Warrior Women. I had to create six, strong master hunters. I had to make each of them different. I think you were probably an afterthought.
Bekar: (starts to take another bite) An afterthought? You did not have someone like me in mind? Where did I come from then---other than from my foremothers?
Janie Franz: As I was casting back in memory to strong women I knew and unique women I’d seen in films, I found a couple. I formed Prydor, one of your sister-kin, after Gigi Edgley, the actress who played Chiana in Farscape. I liked the way she moved (much like a dancer) and her child-like innocence.
Bekar: Prydor is rather like a child. But she is a strong woman. You know that. But what about me?
Janie Franz: Actually, you were based on Canadian multi-instrumentalist Lyndell Montgomery. I arranged a gig for her and Ember Swift, a talented singer-songwriter from Toronto. I got to hang with them one night in the town I lived in. I was appalled and enthralled by this tall, lanky musician who could play so many instruments but had half her head shaved and bore a full sleeve of ink.
Bekar: You mean she spilled ink on herself?
Janie Franz: (chuckles) No, she had a whole arm tattooed from shoulder to wrist in glorious colored images.
Bekar: Pictures on her arm? Like in Merona’s book of herbs or the Goya’s painted scrolls?
Janie Franz: Yes, but put permanently into her skin.
Bekar: Hmmm. One of my sword brothers told me about a people they had encountered who cut marks on their skin. Is that the same?
Janie Franz: That’s called scarification. It’s sort of like tattooing but not quite. The color remains but there are no scars.
Bekar: So this musician was me?
Janie Franz: No. She was the spirit of you. You became your own person the more I lived with you in my stories.
Bekar: (puts the half-eaten apple on the table) So I came alive then? I became me?
Janie Franz: Yes, you started out moving sort of like her. You had her sly smile. But soon you moved as a master hunter would…with a catlike grace. You laughed and joked easily and showed a wider range of emotion that the quiet musician I’d seen one night. You displayed integrity and honesty and a whole list of noble qualities. And you loved deeply….even when you didn’t know you did.
Bekar: (looking down but obviously flattered) Were you in love with me?
Janie Franz: (smiles) I loved the entire sisterhood…all of you master hunters. I cried for three days—I’m not joking—after Warrior Women was finished. Then my daughter said matter-of-factly, “Ma, you can always write another book.”
Bekar: And you did….the search for the lost song.
Janie Franz: Oh yes I did. And I brought you down from the mountain in a whole different role.
Bekar: The journey was not easy.
Janie Franz: No. Emotionally, that search was very difficult for you, especially. And for Jan-nell.
Bekar: (smiles) Ah, Jan-nell. What a creature you made in that one!
Janie Franz: I do like her. But I see her as a catalyst for others experiencing so much life. She seems to find herself in one predicament after another and mostly is so calm. I don’t think she has discovered her full potential yet.
Bekar: You mean there will be more adventures for her….and for me, too?
Janie Franz: Oh my, yes! I have three more books planned about Jan-nell and you and her children. Perhaps even more.
Bekar: (Stands and stretches to her full height) I was hoping you would not let me get old and creaky… and fat on Jan-nell’s herbed cooking. I do love those cucumbers she grows and her salads.
Janie Franz: Eat your fill of those, Bekar. They won’t make you fat.
Bekar: You sound like you know herbed cooking and gardening as well.
Janie Franz: I do. My son is the executive chef in a restaurant he owns a share in. And I’m struggling to grow vegetables in the high desert of New Mexico.
Bekar: Restaurant? Is that like food at an inn?
Janie Franz: Let’s just saw his fare would please the Goya.
Bekar: (raises an eyebrow) Then he must know herbs well and meat.
Janie Franz: He does. Bearin, Jan-nell’s son, is based a bit on my son and Mira-nell is based on my daughter.
Bekar: (reaches for the forgotten apple as a slow smile appears) Is Jan-nell drawn from you?
Janie Franz: (taken by surprise by that question) Perhaps I aspire to be her.
Bekar: (turns toward the door, stops, and says over her shoulder) Perhaps she will be you when she grows older and becomes a Wise Woman. (gives a small salute) And may you find your own Bekar one day.