Hello Everybody—E. R. Barr here.
You know, when Michelangelo carved his great statues out of marble, he made it known that he was not creating anything. Instead, he saw a block of marble and revealed the form that was encased with the stone.
Some authors do something similar with their characters. I do not create the wonderful men and women, creatures and landscapes that populate my novels. I discover them. Take for instance, the hero of my fantasy novels, Conor Archer. I found him one day walking in the Hall of Dreams, within the Room of Memories, and by the Waters of What Might Be or Is Still To Come. I didn’t know his story, and it was only over time that I found out who he truly is.
He doesn’t just exist on a page of parchment, stuck forever repeating the same tale. I can contact him any time I wish to see what he’s been up to. I wanted to interview him for my blog, so I set about looking for him and I found him on the jet taking him back home from Ireland. He was in first class—because Aunt Emily insisted. She felt it wisest and safest. He was bound to be tired and she didn’t want him bothered. Well, she knows best. Fortunately, there was a seat open next to him. Recognizing me, he invited me to sit down and we began to talk.
You look tired. I take it the adventures in Ireland were unexpected.
- You should know.
It seemed exciting. Why Ireland? Why did you go?
- Things were pretty bad in Tinker’s Grove. It looked like I would still be hunted down. Aunt Emily thought I’d be safer in Ireland with my godmother, Moira Sweeney. First time she was ever wrong.
Tell me the most exciting and the scariest part of your adventures there.
- Well, you know I’m only part human. Being ROAN, one of the seal people, is cool. It means I’m a shapeshifter, and I got to see my people. First time I ever really felt at home. They are different, but they taught me so much about who I really am. As for the scariest part, let me see. In Tinker’s Grove, I felt unique because I was the only one of the gifted kids whose power was really active. But Ireland is magical, which is cool, but there are literally thousands of creatures who zip across the boundaries of the Otherworld into our reality. I felt a bit overwhelmed particularly when some of them, like Balor, had powers greater than mine.
What’s with this Otherworldly stuff? Why is it important?
- I finally figured it out. This world that we live in is dying. You can see it, can’t you? The hate, the violence, the destruction of the environment, the passing away of cultures and creatures that have been here for centuries. Well, that is happening in something called the Otherworld too. It’s a place that reflects the world as it should be, but it’s corrupted as well and dying. I don’t know if it’s just entropy or if someone is actually moving the worlds together, but I’ve been told I’m some sort of catalyst for the worlds merging. They say that if I can help the worlds come together, humanity and all the other beautiful things in creation will jump ahead in the next level of their evolution. But there are bad guys around, like Balor and Shiro Ishii and Dr. Drake and that awful Piasa, that want to do it their way. If they succeed, then evil blights and corrupts everything. Abbot Malachy, Michael, Ita and Aunt Emily and even my father, Madoc, say no one will want to live or be able to live in that world.
You’re just a high school kid. Do you resent being put in this position?
- I did. After my Mom died, I just wanted to crawl in a hole and get away from everything. But my new found friends, Jace and Beth, and Nora and that damned dog Troubles, wouldn’t let me alone. They fought my sadness with me. I…I really appreciate their friendship. I don’t know what I would do without them. Once I kind of figured out who I was and what I was supposed to do, I didn’t mind so much. Despite what everybody thinks of me, I’m not that young. In Chicago there’s gang bangers who have already murdered a few people by my age, and young thieves and homeless kids who have to do terrible things to survive. I discovered it’s a jungle out there. Cecy and Fintan, who run the DerryAire pub in Chicago, saved me from that, but I saw enough that I grew up fast.
You’ve got some problems with your Father.
- You could say that. He’s the ‘absent father’ type. I don’t know why he is so distant, and why he doesn’t help more. I think it was terrible the way he abandoned my mother. He can be such a jerk, but I’m going back to Tinker’s Grove, and I have some questions for him.
Like about your son?
- I don’t want to talk about that. Really.
It’s okay; you can trust me. I’m the one telling your story. Do you want to say anything about Beth?
- Everybody thought I was naïve and stupid, but I loved her. I just didn’t think the fact that we were together was going to cause so much death and destruction, and that’s my fault. I should have known. I pretended I had it all together, but I messed up badly. Nearly ruined my relationship with Jace, her brother and my best friend, but we’ve worked it out. She was the best, you know. So kind, and funny and how she stood up to Dr. Drake and protected the baby…Our only partly human baby.
Yeah, I couldn’t figure it out either. He’s a spark of blue light in Madoc’s Indian Mound.
- Not exactly walking and talking, but I don’t care. I’m going back to figure out what to do and take care of him. I’m not abandoning him like my father did me. His name is ‘Lugh’ you know. Good name. Named for the light-bearing god of the Celts.
Of all the people you met in Ireland, who impressed you the most?
- There were three. Michael—he’s an angel you know and just about the coolest thing I’ve ever met. He is so otherworldly but he loves this land, I mean our earth, our reality, and you can almost forget who he truly is. Then there’s Colly. I wouldn’t have believed a Changeling could be good, but he’s the best and bravest—and a mighty powerful werewolf as well. Then there’s Scatha. She’s like the Xena Warrior Princess of Ireland. She taught me to fight; she taught me about my Celtic forebears, she said she would mold me into a weapon and she did. I’m not just a high school kid anymore.
No—you’re a king.
- Yeah, so they say, but I’m not going to lord it over others. Abbot Malachy, Aunt Emily, Michael, Ita and especially Scatha who literally beat it into me, have made sure that I’m going to serve others. If there is any ruling to do, that’s how I’m going to have to do it.
Hey, here comes our meal.
- Great I’m starving.
And who should be giving us our meal but a beautiful flight attendant with lustrous red hair. I couldn’t believe it. I said to her, “Couldn’t you just fly over the ocean yourself, you know, like a crow?”
She laughed a musical little laugh and said, “What, and miss this great conversation?”
Conor looked embarrassed and said, “You eavesdropped!”
“Of course,” said the Morrigan. “You’re the King Who Shall Be. I had to make sure that this bard, this conjuror of tales, this smith of words”—and here she looked at me severely, “would not change the flow of the story. I wanted to remind him that he is only the teller of a tale that is woven by people and places beyond him.”
I looked at her solemnly and said, “I would never forget that.”
She smirked a bit and said, “See that you don’t. And quit making me out to be so cranky. I’ve been around for thousands of years, and I deserve a few grumpy moments.”
Conor and I looked at each other and when we turned back to her, she was gone. We didn’t say another word for a long while. Hungry, I guess, and the food was delicious.