NK: Guys, thank you both so much for sitting down with me and the blog readers today.
Jonathan: Nancy, why is that one wearing a grain sack with eye holes over his head?
Drusus: My name is Drusus, not ‘that one’ and Nancy doesn’t allow readers to know my physical appearance because the heroine in our project is blind. She didn’t want me to reveal my face. Even to her.
(Jonathan looks right at me): You know that’s strange, right?
NK: Yes, thank you. I can always count on you to tell me when you think I’m wrong.
Jonathan: You’re still upset about that kiss in chapter twenty-nine aren’t you?
Drusus: Wait, Jonathan has an on-page kiss? All mine are in my back story. How is that even fair?
NK: Drusus, calm down. Your story isn’t finished yet. And yes, Jonathan, I’m still upset about that kiss. I will go to my grave upset about that kiss. Now please guys, I need to get to this interview.
Drusus: What about this kiss is upsetting?
NK: It’s not—
Jonathan: Nancy knew in the first draft of that scene I was going to fall to temptation and she tried not to let me. It would be dishonorable of me to say why but I tried to tell her repeatedly she’d left me out of that scene and stuck her idealized version of me in and it wasn’t working. The reader would know and all her credibility would be sand in the wind. Thankfully her critique partner told her I would have failed in that moment also. Once she heard it from Whitney she knew she had to write it in. She wasn’t happy about it and even afterward, she still wanted to take it out. That was a rough week for everyone.
NK: But you got your way in the end. It’s rude to interrupt.
Jonathan: (Brow arches as he leans forward.) I think you can extend me some chain considering what you put me through from chapters five to thirty-two, don’t you?
NK: (Needing to changes subject at once) Drusus, tell the blog readers a little about yourself and your story.
Drusus: I’m a slave whose been specially trained to serve a blind master, though when my story begins for the reader I’m being introduced to my new mistress. Laelia is an amazing woman who doesn’t know it. She lost her mother very young and her sight a few months before we meet. Her father hates her for reasons I didn't understand till a few chapters ago, but the only things he hates more than what she reminds him of is being embarrassed and Christians. Since I've been a Christian for about two years, I’m walking right into a lion’s den so to speak.
Jonathan: I faced an actual lion when they tried to execute me for the second time and killed it with only a stick. You should be able to overcome some ill-tempered old man in one scene if you're really a hero.
NK: Drusus has a different story than you and his own obstacles to overcome in his own way. You should respect him if for no other reason than he goes running from problems while you always made more for yourself.
Drusus: (Chuckles and crosses his arms) I do run. Literally, don’t I?
NK: (Laughs at his inside jest) Yes, you do and I’m proud of you for that.
Jonathan: (Clearly unhappy to not be the center of attention for a change) I killed a lion with a stick. He runs away. (He looks pointedly at Drusus.) Do we even have the same author?
NK: That’s enough. I’m sorry, Drusus. He’s not normally so hostile unless he’s in the arena.
Drusus: You’re a gladiator? It would explain the scars.
Jonathan: I was. For a time I was the undefeated champion of all of Rome.
Drusus: Then why haven’t I heard of you?
Jonathan: Because in your time I’m only ten years old.
Drusus: You’re from the future?
NK: It’s complicated but yes, and he can’t tell you anything that happens.
Jonathan: Even about the fire?
Drusus: I already know about the fire. I was four but I still remember. The smells, the darkness, all those people…
Jonathan: Not that fire, the one that’s—
NK: No! (I kick the leg of Jonathan’s stool.) No, he means the great fire of sixty-four under Nero. What other fire could he possibly be talking about? Now, back to this interview, please guys.
Drusus: I’m sorry.
NK: Its fine. I should have known this would happen if I put you both in the same room.
Jonathan: What’s a room?
NK: Sorry, chamber. Room is an English word.
Drusus: What’s English?
NK: You guys are killing me here, seriously. English is a language that hasn’t happened yet. It will become the most popular common language, like Greek is for you.
Jonathan: I know Greek and Latin. Does Drusus know Latin?
Drusus: No, only Greek.
Jonathan: Can you read and write?
Drusus: No, but I can sink a blade anywhere I want thirty feet away.
Jonathan: (Appearing rather impressed now.) You’re a knife thrower? Like from the East?
Drusus: That’s right.
NK: He is pretty impressive with that pair of flat throwing knives of his. Tell the readers what you call them Drusus.
Drusus: The twins.
Jonathan: I would have liked to have had you with me in the showdown between my brothers and me the night before the Emperor’s assassination.
Drusus: I didn’t know you had brothers.
Jonathan: I do. They believed I was a threat to their political ambitions and betrayed me into slavery when I was sixteen. Ten years would pass before I saw them again.
Drusus: What happened?
NK: Sorry, Drusus. I can’t let him tell you and spoil it for the readers.
Drusus: Why not? You’ve already let us talk about our stories.
NK: Yes, but only what would be obvious from the cover or the blurb on the back. I know what I’m doing.
Jonathan: I’m not sure you do. Or if you’ve realized yet that this whole thing is pretty out there, even for you. I know you thrive on being different and marching to the sound of your own sword and shield striking, but this is rather weird.
NK: Thanks, Jonathan. I know I can always count on you to be Honest Abe without regard to hurting my feelings.
Jonathan: What’s an Honest Abe?
NK: Never mind.
Drusus: Do you want to go find the kitchen here and talk women and weapons over some wine?
Jonathan: Sure. I want to see the twins and I’ll show you my training gladius and tell you about the love of my life and how we first met.
NK: Guys, you can’t go past that door. I don’t have any wine, just tea and coffee. Besides, there’s a ton of things you aren’t going to understand out there, like electricity.
Drusus: What’s electricity?
Jonathan: What are tea and coffee? And how do you not have wine? Every house has wine. Even the peasants packed in their little apartments like I was as a boy have wine. I would hope you’re better off than a peasant in your time. You are aren’t you?
NK: I ask the questions here. That’s how this works.
Drusus: So are we finished? It’s getting pretty hot inside this grain sack.
Jonathan: You should try a helmet in mid-day sun. It’s like putting your head in a brazier.
NK: (Total face-palm) That’s the ancient Roman equivalent of a space heater, blog readers.
Jonathan: Of course, what else would it be?
NK: Never mind. Okay thanks guys. It’s time for you to go now. Drusus, give my love to Laelia and let her know to hang in there. Jonathan, give my love to Nessa and tell her I have a surprise she’s going to love when I get to your sequel.
Drusus: Jonathan is getting a sequel?
NK: Bye guys, thanks! Seriously, you gotta go now. I’ll see you soon, especially you Drusus. We’re doing another round of NovelTrack at ACFW and my goal for February is 18K words. Be ready.
Wow, blog readers. Just, WOW. I didn’t realize how much I missed the days these men were just notes on a characterization sheet and nebulous personalities made of some select traits. Back when they would do what I wanted without question. Jonathan is more mature than Drusus, both in years and in character, and does get to give me a hard time because gosh, some of the things we endured together in CHASING THE LION still wrench my heart.
Because Drusus and Laelia’s story is a romance, his story is a lighter read but he’s got his share of physical pain coming, though nothing compared to what Jonathan suffered. And sorry about the fire drama. Rome’s second great fire in AD 80 is part of the climax of UNSEEN LOVE and I can’t have Drusus tipped off ahead of time because I know him and he thinks he can save everyone and everything and that will cause problems if he tries to fight me in those scenes like Jonathan did with that kiss. And yes, I’m still upset about it. And I always will be, LOL. Drusus is maturing very quickly as we’re midway through he and Laelia’s story, (my current work in process) so to some extent I can still mold him but that clay is hardening quickly, which is encouraging as his creator.
And I know that this entire blogpost is some psychologists case study waiting to happen, LOL. Fiction writers know I’m not crazy (well, at least in this way, hehe). I really needed to have some fun with my guys this weekend, and thanks for letting me.
“Fantasy remains a human right: We make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made. And not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.” - J.R.R. Tolkien