Olde School by Selah Janel
Book One of the Kingdom City Chronicles
“I cannot fathom why this is still a problem for you,” a dry, slightly accented voice observed. Fabulous. Just what I needed.
“I’m still not talking to you.”
The small, blue-green songbird with the adorable feathered topknot lighted on the couch arm beside me. “I apologized for imposing on your convention—”
“You did not!”
He shrugged his wings. “I meant to, more or less.”
“You used my toiletries…my toothbrush…my loofah!” I growled, unable to look at him. There were just some things an author had no business sharing with her muse and I drew the line at my deodorant.
Clyde, better known as one of the characters from my book, had somehow cheated fictional boundaries, made it into the real world, and declared himself my muse…as well as my roommate and PR manager for Imaginarium. I was still recovering from the experience.
“I needed to be presentable,” he retorted.
“Uh-huh. And what about how you screwed with my GPS on the way home? No one needs to drive by that many liquor stores and ice cream shops—”
“You would not let me drive!” he complained.
Now there was an adventure that I didn’t even want to contemplate. “Besides, for all your supposed help, you spent a lot of time in the hotel room watching television. For being one of those magical talking animal guardians, you aren’t helpful at all.”
He gave me a pitying look. “Milady bard, you should know by now that I am not that kind of talking animal guardian.” Clyde whistled innocently, his grey-green eyes showing complete innocence and lack of remorse. He was good, I’ll give him that.
“Fine, make it up to me by helping me figure out what to write about. And it cannot be about you – you are not the only thing in this book,” I snapped.
The pseudo-bird paced across the couch arm with his little legs, then plopped himself down on my shoulder, wiggling his toes in my peripheral vision. “You have talked at length about different topics…mayhaps ‘tis time for a different approach.”
I glanced over at him, grimacing at the odor of red wine coming off his beak tried to not get his toenails stuck up my nose. “Meaning?”
“Allow me to interview you.”
I blinked at him. He blinked back. “That…actually isn’t a bad idea,” I admitted. He gave me his “Of course it’s not you foolish mortal” look and cleared his throat. Yeah, no matter how many times I heard that or how deep and gravelly his voice was, that was still obnoxious.
He retreated into thought, head tilted and his little purple tongue working its way out. “Well then. It occurs to me that you have a decent knowledge of folk and fairy tales, to the point where you brought together aspects from many obscure stories into something melded with what you humans think of as more modern fantasy. You even delve into bits of the horrific stylings of him who you dub the ‘Crafter of Love’—“
“For God’s sake, Clyde! Lovecraft. H.P. Lovecraft. That is NOT the same thing as Crafter of Love.”
“Are you sure?”
My head was starting to throb, something that seemed to happen during every Clyde visit. “Uh, very much so. And yeah, I blended his type of otherworldly mythos with some Faerie basics….” I frowned, trying to find the question in his soliloquy. “What were you asking again?”
He fluttered his tail feathers and gave me a condescending look down his beak. “Well, you write cross-genre fiction for this book, do you not?”
I frowned. There was something definitely off about his interview style. “Uh…yes?”
“Splendid! See, this is not as difficult as you would think,” Clyde preened. “Now then, you made the decision to make much of your cast nonhuman, yet you go out of your way to not have their characterizations be gimmicky, and make sure to paint them in such a way that your audience empathizes with them. They have similar hopes and frustrations as many of your readers, and that way your audience will plunge even deeper into this world that you have created, is that not correct?”
I could feel my eyebrows creeping higher on my forehead as the ache pulsed behind my eyes. Although his magic powers had been restrained, he was almost easier to deal with when they accidentally leaked out. “That’s right…”
The little bird hopped up and down, tittering in excitement. “Good girl,” he cooed, and the only reason I didn’t smack him with a pillow was because I’d learned from experience that he had exceptional reflexes. And wings. He cuddled up against my neck, tapping his toes in thought. “Now then, you distinguish yourself from much of your mortal realm’s fantasy writings by allowing the expanse of Kingdom City to modernize. Your creatures have modern conveniences, though they are put through a…what do you call it…a fairy tale filter?”
“Yep,” I drawled from behind the paperback I’d picked up.
He went on, throwing his wings about like an orator. “And you make great use of popular culture so that your readers will identify with the realm of Kingdom City—”
“And also take pains to make your folklore elements part of Kingdom City’s history, and have your characters consider magic to be tales of old wives…”
He ignored me, shivering in excitement as he continued, obviously on a roll. “You even merge aspects of Crones into modern hospitals—”
“And concepts of conventions and movie franchises and—”
“Hey, C-dog!” I had to admit, it was amusing when his feathers puffed up when he got irritated.
“You will not address me in that tone, mortal.”
“My apologies, Oh Olde One who in his infinite wisdom yet finite magic seeks to come to my aid,” I shot back. “What are you trying to do?”
“I do not fathom what you are asking.”
I rolled my eyes. “You get that this isn’t how you do an interview, right?”
Clyde was busy smoothing a ruffled feather on his chest. “Come again?”
“You’re answering all the questions for me as you ask them!”
A guilty flush lit his cheeks and he shrugged. “I suppose I get carried away from time to time, though think of it as reputation control,” he suggested. “You do tend to run your mouth about weird things, and you tend not to mention me as much as you could.”
Yep, that headache was getting stronger. I fought the curse and settled for a sigh. “Anything else you feel like asking, Clyde?”
He stared up at me with those fathomless eyes and tilted his head. His topknot slid with the movement and for a moment I could forget about his blasted ego.
“When are you going to discuss your infatuation with me?”
And the moment was gone.
“Excuse me?” I tried not to let my temper flare, but blast it, the stupid bird got under my skin.
“Well you did proclaim your allegiance to me on that thirteenth of Friday...”
“Because you zapped me to Kingdom City with your weird magic and got me locked into a dungeon!” I hissed, looming over him.
The little jerk was completely unperturbed. “I did hear you were looking everywhere for me all throughout that misadventure…”
“Because I wanted to go back home!”
“And you did let me stay in your hotel room at the convention of Imaginarium. I had minions that took fifty years to get to that point.” How something so cute and harmless could be so freakin’ vile, I had no idea.
“Listen, you! I don’t know what twisted thoughts are in that little feathery head of yours, but…”I trailed off when I finally noticed the shaking of Clyde’s little shoulders. “You idjit…” I growled.
“I am sorry, milady, but ‘tis a bit hilarious that you would take that seriously,” he laughed, rolling onto his back, claws kicking in the air. “After all, as an Olde One I could devour far more delectable souls, have far finer minions than you—”
As I figured, he dodged my hand pretty well. “I only mean that you are suitable for my bard!” he quickly corrected, wiping tears from his eyes with the tip of a wing. “After all, I thought you preferred a professional relationship?”
“Of course I do!” I snapped, and the fact that I was having this conversation with a fictional character of mine didn’t escape me. Maybe I needed a vacation.
“Think of it this way, milady,” Clyde chuckled, bowing low. “At least it got you writing.” With a throaty laugh he took to the air and disappeared in a flash of light and sound. Eh, that was true, he had jump-started my thought processes…though he was still a great big jerk.
Cross-Genre: Fantasy, Fairy/Folktale, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Horror
Kingdom City has moved into the modern era. Run by a lord mayor and city council (though still under the influence of the High King of The Land), it proudly embraces a blend of progress and tradition. Trolls, ogres, and other Folk walk the streets with humans, but are more likely to be entrepreneurs than cause trouble. Princesses still want to be rescued, but they now frequent online dating services to encourage lords, royals, and politicians to win their favor. The old stories are around, but everyone knows they’re just fodder for the next movie franchise. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as magic. It’s all old superstition and harmless tradition.
Bookish, timid, and more likely to carry a laptop than a weapon, Paddlelump Stonemonger is quickly coming to wish he’d never put a toll bridge over Crescent Ravine. While his success has brought him lots of gold, it’s also brought him unwanted attention from the Lord Mayor. Adding to his frustration, Padd’s oldest friends give him a hard time when his new maid seems inept at best and conniving at worst. When a shepherd warns Paddlelump of strange noises coming from Thadd Forest, he doesn’t think much of it. Unfortunately for him, the history of his land goes back further than anyone can imagine. Before long he’ll realize that he should have paid attention to the old tales and carried a club.
Darkness threatens to overwhelm not only Paddlelump, but the entire realm. With a little luck, a strange bird, a feisty waitress, and some sturdy friends, maybe, just maybe, Padd will survive to eat another meal at Trip Trap’s diner. It’s enough to make the troll want to crawl under his bridge, if he can manage to keep it out of the clutches of greedy politicians
Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. The many people around her that supported her love of reading and curiosity probably made it worse. Her e-books The Other Man, Holly and Ivy, and Mooner are published through Mocha Memoirs Press. Lost in the Shadows, a collection of short stories celebrating the edges of ideas and the spaces between genres was co-written with S.H. Roddey. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil, The Grotesquerie, and Thunder on the Battlefield. Olde School is the first book in her new series, The Kingdom City Chronicles, and is published through Seventh Star Press. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.
Facebook author page – http://www.facebook.com/authorSJ
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/SelahJanel
Amazon Author Page - http://www.amazon.com/Selah-Janel/e/B0074DKC9K