Tag Archives: interview

Gandalf Answers Your Questions

Last Tuesday, I started the series Ask a Fictional Character, starting with Gandalf. I got three questions for him, so here they are, with his answers. Read to the bottom for next week’s fictional character.

Ask Fictional charactersQuestion 1:

Gandalf, what did it feel like to go from being Grey to being White? (submitted by Miles Rost at Music and Fiction)

Good question, Miles. If you have never died and been resurrected, it will be hard to explain, but let me try. Imagine you are standing on a tall mountain, looking out over an overcast landscape. It is before dawn, in that grey time before the sky in the east turns colors. Everything is clear and visible and there is a distinctness to everything, even though the colors are muted and dull.

It stays like this for some time, a middle land between the day and night with the visibility of the day but the colors of night. Then, suddenly, the lights begins to increase. Colors leak into the east and the whole world seems to hold its breath, waiting for that moment of transformation. Then the sun breaks over the hills and the grey sky above glows and turns into the white clouds of day, getting stronger and whiter with every passing moment.

That is how it seemed in retrospect, at least. At the time, I had just finished fighting a balrog for a week, so I was rather overwrought physically. I was also very, very cold (being naked on top of a snowy mountain) so some of the wonder may have been lost on me.


Question 2:

Gandalf, have you ever read “Catcher in the Rye?” Holden Caulfield doesn’t like phonies either? Kidding…real question. What kind of shoes do you wear to do all that walking?
(submitted by Amy Reese at The Bumble Files)

Amy, if you ever make it to the Grey Havens, ask for Galdor the Leathersmith (not Galdor the messenger of Cirdan). He used to make me boots made from the leather of cattle descended from the Kine of Araw. I do not if it was by magic or superior craft but those boots would last me almost a century. My cousin Radagast would save an extra pair for me at Rhosgobel, since I always needed them more than he and he was more for moccasins anyway.

Bosco Proudfoot once made me a pair of boots as a present but they always pinched after a few miles and I gave them to the great-great-grandfather of Barliman Butterbur, who took quite a liking to them, I hear.

In response to your first question, I have never read the book you mentioned but now that my labors are done, I have more time for leisurely reading. I did know a small hamlet called Caulfield where Wood End is now. I once saw a group of Took maidens dancing with a group of elves in a turnip patch one moonlit night. I have never seen such a thing since.


Question 3:

Gandalf, of all the other races you have encountered dwarves, hobbits, elves etc if you had to choose to be one which would you choose to be? (submitted by Paula Acton at paulaacton.com)

I would have to say, Paula, that of all the races I have met and all the peoples I have dealt with, I prefer myself most of all. Not as a wizard as such, since I do not always get along with my own kind. We are a lonely and crafty bunch at times. However, that was not your question.

I would have to choose a hobbit, I think. That is not surprising, perhaps, to those who know me but I like their carefree ways and as someone who has borne a great number of burdens over the years for a great number of different people, the idea of a big problem being getting the harvest in on time seems very relaxing.

It would be a change, especially, to give up my stature, both physically and as a (sometimes) respected personage. I am sure that if I ever were a hobbit, I would keep up my meddling ways and become one of the biggest busybodies in all four farthings! So perhaps it is best that I am just me, comfortable in my own skin. And so it should be.


Great questions guys and a big thank you to Gandalf for taking time to answer them.

For next week, I will be taking relationship questions, whether romantic, platonic or anything else. Our guest fictional character will be Alex, from A Clockwork Orange. Bring on those questions, folks, and let Alex solve all your relationship difficulties!

alex clockwork

 

 

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The Charons

This is a true story, although it’s not mine. It is a story of betrayal, malice, and harassment. It’s a story of family poison and co-worker acid.

It is the story of the experiences of blogger and author Sharmishtha Basu, who has just released this book entitled the Charons. I asked her a few questions about the book and how she works as a writer.

David: Is this a true story?

Sharmishtha: It is more of a journal than a story. Everything that is written has happened, but in a lot more horrible way. I just don’t have the mental strength to bare my soul to everyone.

D: When did you first decide to write this story?

S: In 2001, after returning from hell. I decided I would share my experience to warn others in crystal clear words. In the next ten years my tormentors made that decision a resolution.

D: What was the hardest part about writing this book?

S: The pain. Reliving the memories of those ghoulish tortures and betrayals, memories of monstrosity that dwells inside human beings, it was such a shock for me, someone who believed in humanity so very much.

D: Do you have a set place and time when you write?

S: No. I sometimes discipline my muse but she breaks free.

D: Do you have any insights or words of inspirations for other writers?

S: If you believe you want to share your works, don’t let anyone stop you. Createspace and kindle are absolutely free sites, all you will need is friends who will give you the well needed publicity or you can go for paid services. If a publisher refuses your work, that does not makes it bad. Listen to your heart and friends.

The Charons is on sale now at Amazon.com or Createspace.


New York Mayor Grants Health Insurance for Cats

Do cats work hard? They sure don’t act like it. After all, they’re rated the 9th laziest animal by pawnation.com, who should know a thing or two about all things pawed.Notes newspaper

Of course, we know that cats do work hard, just in their own way. They kill enough mice and rats to keep us from swimming in vermin and that’s no small thing. I don’t think the title of this post will be seen in the New York Times anytime soon, but that’s not saying it shouldn’t be. Maybe they could pay taxes in rat tails or something.

Let me tell you about one cat who worked hard. Her name was Maya. She was more than a cat though: she was a lady. She had a job but had to keep out of sight because of health inspectors. She had an infuriating owner, a high-classed friend named Puccini, and a rakish tomcat brother named Gloves. She was also a writer, who tapped out her memoirs, one paw stroke at a time. These memoirs are collected in a small book called Notes from a Working Cat, by Susannah Bianchi. I recently interviewed her about the book.

David: First of all, let me say I enjoyed this book a lot. Where did you get the inspiration for it?

Susannah: Maya was an actual cat on the Avenue where I live. I first met her sleeping in the window after hours. She was the prettiest kitty amid the apples and oranges.

D: Who is your favorite character in this story and why?

S: Maya, of course, with Puccini as a close second for her glamor . . . pearls instead of a collar. If I come back as a cat, I’d want to be Puccini, the Liz Taylor of Pusses.

D: What was the hardest part about writing this book?

S: Not making a full-fledged book, thinking less would be more.

D: Do you have a set place and time you write?

S: I like writing at first light, when all is quiet and I have the world to myself.

D: Finally, do you have any insights or words of inspiration for other writers?

S: Just forget about fame and fortune. All that will come doing what you love.  8-)

 

Notes from a Working Cat is on sale now at Amazon.com. Go check it out.

Notes from a Working Cat


Unique POV Corner: Interview with a Haunted House

For this piece, I want to give a shout out to Eric Alagan, since he always says I have unique point of views in my stories.

house

Interviewer (David Stewart): Thanks for talking with me. For the record, your real name is 666 Ghoul Dr, is that right?

 

Haunted House: Actually, there was some redistricting last year. Now I’m 8712 Ghoul Parkway.

 

DS: Fair enough. The reason I wanted to talk to you is that you have been accused, frankly, of being evil. How do you respond to that?

 

HH: It’s just terrible, David. For one thing, “haunted” has such a stigma to it. People say I have ghosts and for some reason, that’s cause to shun me. How about getting me some help, right?

 

DS: Do you have ghosts?

 

HH: Well . . . yes, I suppose.

 

DS: Why did you hesitate? And why is your wallpaper turning red now? Is this some sort of REDROOM thing?

 

HH: No, I’m blushing, and thank you very much for calling attention to it. Actually, ghosts are just how I . . . pass gas. Ethereal gas. It’s a problem older houses have from time to time. We don’t like to make a big deal of it.

 

DS: What about the rumors that your walls bleed sometimes?

 

HH: Oh, now I’m in trouble for having blood in me? You have blood in you and no one calls you haunted. Look, it’s just for fun, okay? Like a party trick. I just do it to cheer the owners up if they look like they’re having a bad day. It puts the life back into them. They start running around, screaming, calling people. It’s good stuff.

 

DS: And the portal to an unknown dimension that’s in your basement?

 

HH: Oh that. A previous owner had that installed to shorten his commute. He had a weird job. Frankly, considering how rare it is, I’d think it’d be a selling point. Kind of like a hot tub with fifth-dimensional bubbles.

 

DS: I see. So basically, you consider yourself a fairly ordinary house, just misunderstood.

 

HH: Well, I’m definitely not ordinary. I like to think I’m just waiting for that special owner. So for anyone looking, I’m on the market. And my price has been slashed repeatedly!

 

(I couldn’t resist the quote from my favorite TV show)


Interview with a Traitor

This is a story that I promised to do for Nightlake for winning my Story Premise Challenge that I held back in May. I apologize that it’s been so long. This story is similar to what she had asked for, although not exactly, so I hope it will be acceptable.

North Korean flags

Interview with a Traitor

It wasn’t easy, but I finally got it: an interview with the UK’s most notorious defector, Steven T. Blacker, in his new home in Wonsan, North Korea. I had been to North Korea once before but had not been able to track him down. This time, I was told through government channels that he would agree to an interview. I flew to Pyongyang through Beijing and met my guides: the soft-spoken but sharp-eyed Miss Kang and the frequently-smiling, quiet Mr. Ryu. We drove to Wonsan the next day along a country highway sparsely filled with trucks, military vehicles and the occasional passenger car.

Steven Blacker’s apartment was on the tenth floor of one of the taller apartment buildings in the city and his living room window looked out over Wonsan harbor. He was a slim, red-haired man with an easy smile and a friendly nature. He introduced me to his wife, a North Korean woman named Kim Sun-Nam who bowed, but did not smile at me.

Wonsan, North Korea

Wonsan, North Korea [*]

I had been hoping to interview Mr. Blacker in private, in order to get at some of the motivations he had for defecting, as well as some of the actual living conditions in North Korea—something he might not be comfortable talking about in front of government minders. I soon realized that privacy was going to be impossible. My guides not only insisted on staying during the interview, but also recording the conversation.

So, with their tape recorder and my digital recorder sitting on the table, we began. Mr. Blacker’s wife brought us beer and snacks but I was anxious to begin.

“Thank you for allowing me to meet with you,” I said, trying to get the formalities out of the way. He merely nodded. “So, how is life here?”

“It’s good,” he said. “Really good.” When I pressed him to elaborate, he said, “Life is much simpler here. I teach English to government officials and help them as they need it and besides that, I’m left alone to just live my life. I do some writing, photography. I have a car and we can travel more or less freely in the area. It’s a good life.”

I thought of the high price that good life had cost, but I decided to get into that later.

“I’ve heard bits and pieces of your story, Mr. Blacker—how you came here originally undercover and eventually defected. Do you mind telling me again, in your own words?”

“Not at all,” he said, taking a swig of beer. “As you probably know, I worked for MI-6 for ten years. I came here posing as a photojournalist. The idea was to pretend to make a documentary about rural North Korean life but actually try to recruit local contacts and slowly try to build a network of informants. I was here for about a month.”

“So what made you want to defect?” I asked.

“A lot of things, I guess,” he said. “For one thing, The DPRK is nothing like we’ve been told. We’ve been force-fed a diet of propaganda about the ‘Axis of Evil’. If you ask anyone in the West who the evilest people in the world are, they will probably say North Koreans. We have this mental image of a whole country working towards the downfall of the rest of the world.

“But when I got here, I saw through that in a second. They’re just people, like anyone else, and some of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met. I have known people back in the West with more money and possessions than some people here could even dream of, and yet they hoard it all for themselves. I learned true generosity here.”

“So you made the decision after only a month?” I asked.

“No, although by the time the month was up and I returned home, the idea had been planted in my mind. It was a tiny seed of discontent with my life and the crazy, audacious idea of changing it. Haven’t you ever wanted to just leave it all behind? Forget the daily grind and bustle and stress and find a simpler life?”

“But you could have done that anywhere. Why didn’t you just retire honorably and move to Fiji or somewhere?”

He shrugged. “I fell in love with the culture and the people here. If you’ve never lived here, you think of the DPRK as a government, or an ideology, or a threat. I saw the people and the rich culture they have. It hooked me.”

“Do you ever regret the decision?” I asked.

For a moment, I thought I had caught him off guard. He hesitated and I could tell that he was debating what to say. So, he did have some regrets. After a few seconds, he said, “No. No, I don’t regret it. I might have done some things differently though, if I had to do it all again.” I asked what he meant, but he refused to elaborate.

“It was reported that you defected in Beijing, at the North Korean embassy. Why didn’t you do it here, when you in the country?”

“I came here with a team—if I had declared my intention to defect here, my teammates would have been imprisoned. It was just easier out of the country.”

I thought it was time to get into some of the deeper issues, or at least poke at them and see how Mr. Blacker would respond. “How would you respond to people who call you a traitor?”

He leaned forward and set his beer bottle down heavily on the table. “Look,” he said, pointing a finger at me. “I didn’t come here to sell out my country. This was a personal choice, and it reflected a change I wanted to make in my own life. That’s all.”

I thought his use of the phrase “personal choice” was highly ironic, considering we were in a country where personal freedom was severely limited. “Did you give top secret intelligence to North Korea?” I asked.

He looked annoyed and I thought he was going to refuse to answer, but then he just glanced off to the side and shrugged slightly. “I didn’t bring intelligence with me, if that’s what you mean. I answered their questions—that’s all.”

“But surely, you must have given them classified information—”

“Do you have any other questions?” he asked, cutting me off.

Hundreds, I thought. “What do you think of North Korea’s human rights abuses?”

“Western propaganda,” he said, although I thought I saw his gaze flick momentarily to my guides. “You want to talk about human rights abuses? What about the US? You’re an American, right? Sure, they imprison people here for plotting against the government, but what country doesn’t? The DPRK has never attacked another country ever. Can you say that about the US or the UK? The US is currently engaged in conflicts in over seventy countries, either officially or unofficially. A lot of them were ones they started.”

“That’s debatable,” I said, “but what about the Korean War?” I asked. “The North invaded South Korea first.”

“That was a civil war though,” Mr. Black countered. “Even today, both the North and South consider Korea to be one, temporarily divided country. During the war, the North was not invading a foreign country; it was merely attempting to put down rebellious factions in its own country. No one asked any other country to get involved.”

“Still, do you deny that there are concentration camps here where they torture political prisoners and their families?” I glanced over at the government officials. I could tell they were getting a little restless and Miss Kang looked on the edge of jumping in to stop the interview.

“What about Guantanamo Bay, or the other secret prisons the US and NATO have scattered around the world? The public doesn’t know about all of them, but trust me, they’re there. Is that any worse?”

“So you don’t deny the North has concentration camps?” I asked. Miss Kang stood up but I waved for her to sit back down. “Fine, fine. I take back the question.” I sensed that the interview was going to end soon, but if I asked any of the tough questions I wanted to, I feared that Miss Kang would step in. “Is there anything you miss from back home?”

“Of course,” Mr. Blacker said. “Life is never perfect. I miss my family and I miss the foods I grew up with. I miss Christmas.”

“One last question,” I said. “How do you see yourself, Mr. Blacker? What do you see when you look in the mirror?”

“I see an ordinary man who was brave enough to follow his convictions,” he said. “I wouldn’t expect anyone else to do what I did, or at least not many. As for myself, I think I did the right thing.”

“Even though you betrayed the trust of your country to do it?”

“You have to be true to yourself first,” he said.

“Even when you have to break oaths that you have sworn?”

“People break their oaths all the time when they get divorced,” he said. “It’s painful, but sometimes it’s necessary. My situation is not ideal, but we each have to live life as we see best.”

After we left the Blackers’ apartment, my guides and I had dinner in Wonsan and then drove back to Pyongyang as it was getting dark.

“Are you satisfied with your interview?” Miss Kang asked.

“I think it went okay,” I said. I had not gotten what I’d expected, but now, looking back, I wasn’t entirely sure what I had been expecting.

“He is a good man,” she said. “He has a strong spirit.”

“Would you think that of someone who betrayed your country and gave its secrets to your enemies?” I asked. She did not answer.

I thought about Steven Blacker all the way back to New York. He had made some good points, but I still could not make myself agree with him. In my mind, he was still a traitor—someone who had betrayed the trust of his country. Still, he had made me think. The world is not as black and white as we might believe, or wish it to be.


Recollections of an Elderly Dragon

A few days ago, I sat down for a fireside chat with octocentarian dragon, Hargog the Destroyer. It wasn’t intended as a fireside chat, but he inadvertently set part of the coffee shop on fire. He can still knock them out when he wants to!

Interviewer: Thank you for meeting with me. It must be harder to get around these days. Congratulations on passing your 800th birthday, by the way.

Hargog: Thank you. I try to stay active. I won’t win any races with jet planes, but I try to go out in the countryside twice a month at least. Just for some light ravaging. The Society helps me a lot when I don’t feel up to it.

I: The Society?

H: The Society for the Preservation Of Reptilian Kings, or SPORK for short. They bring me food every week: a couple of sheep, maybe a cow.

I: No maidens?

H: Come on, that’s not fair. No one can be blamed for the way they were raised, and that was just the culture back then. I swore off maidens a long time ago. It was a simpler time back then, but I know—the world changes.

I: Back in 1543, Yorker Magazine referred to you as “the Scourge of the Midlands” and “the Defiler of Nations.” Have your feelings on those titles changed at all?

H: Well, “Defiler of Nations” is a bit of a hyperbole. They weren’t that clean when I got there anyway, am I right? “Scourge of the Midlands” though—that’s a funny story. I was cruising around with my friend Grimlock, a silver drake, and we were comparing our tail snaps. We had just eaten a whole tavern and were preeettty tipsy. So Grimlock bets me a mountain of gold I can’t destroy the cottage up ahead with one whip of my tail. Bang! I nailed it, first time. So then he says “double or nothing on the castle on the hill.” We did that all night. It messed up the area pretty bad.

I: I’m sorry to hear your father passed away 150 years ago. How was your relationship with him?

H: Well, he was a gold drake, and you know gold drakes. Always gotta be the best. He didn’t have time for a little green drake like me, what with plundering the whole known world and hoarding their treasures. He was a great one for hoarding and it’s not the sort of hobby a father and son can share. I moved out when I was 160 and we didn’t really didn’t talk after that. He didn’t even call when I destroyed Constantinople and ate ten thousand of its residents. He wasn’t really supportive that way.

I: Any regrets?

H: Well, no life is perfect, I suppose. I would have liked to see more of the world. I was born in Scotland and I used to travel all over Europe in my youth. I could have gone further—I even got an invitation from a lithe little Chinese dragon who asked me to come and hang out on top of her mystic mountain for a few centuries. But I was in kind of a ravage-plunder-hoard rut at the time. I’ve thought about her a lot in the last half millennium though. I think she finally went under the sea to hang out with the Dragon King.

I: What would you say your proudest moment was?

H: About 250 years ago, a fire demon woke up and started burning half of Poland—you probably heard about it. Anyway, I went to take care of him. It wasn’t just protecting the dragon monopoly on mayhem either—this thing was burning down whole towns and cities. I mean, where’s the ecology, right? I fought that thing for a month, at least. They can’t die—they’re immortal—but eventually he gave up and I banished him to Greenland to cool him off a a bit and think about what he’d done. I hear he’s posing as a Wendigo up there now, but at least he’s not hurting anyone.

I: So, any plans for the future?

H: I don’t know. After you pass 800, you start to slow down a little. I guess I’ll just try to stay active and not destroy the neighborhood when I go out to check the mail. I got a pamphlet for a tour that visits the sunken city of R’lyeh. Sounds like fun. We’ll see.

I: Thank you again for meeting with me, Hargog the Destroyer. It’s been a pleasure.

H: No problem. I appreciate that people still have some interest in me. You’d better leave first. I’d hate to step on you on the way out.

Found at dragonwallpapers10.net

Found at dragonwallpapers10.net

*     *     *     *     *

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone. Here’s a picture my wife sent me today. She made it here, if you want to check it out. So, I pass it on to you as well. Have a great day.

 


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