30 March 2015

Proust Your Protagonist with Jessica Barlow

Meet Rochelle, one of the protagonists
 in the paranormal fantasy Variant Magic.
Artwork (c) Kristina Elyse Butke

Presenting

Rochelle LeBeau

Rochelle: ...Yes, I know I have a girly name, thanks. 

Kristina: Don't feel bad. There are plenty of guys with girly names: Ashley from Gone With the Wind. Courtney from...uh...Stacy...Well. Thanks stopping by. Why don't you introduce yourself?

Rochelle: I am Rochelle LeBeau. I'm twenty-three and looking for love.

Kristina: Um--

Rochelle: What? This isn't a dating interview? Can you cut all that out then? Lemme start over.

I'm Rochelle LeBeau. The only real “witch” in Chattanooga. At least that’s what I've been told. But there’s a voice in my head telling me I'm something else. A literal voice that I want to give in to.

Kristina: I'm interested...but should I be concerned? (laughs) I'm just teasing. Let's get these questions rolling!

What do I regard as the lowest depth of misery.
Um…probably losing who I am. There’s nothing worse than not knowing who you are.

Where I want to live.
Ooo! This is a good one! Um, I'd say…Avengers Tower. I'd love to live there! I’d throw lots of parties with Tony Stark and drink mead with Thor. That'd be awesome.

Kristina: (high fives) Let's be friends!

My idea of earthly happiness.
Happiness for me is measured in family and friends. I’m adopted and family means a lot to me. I don’t remember my birth parents, but the people who raised me have never made me feel different or unwelcomed. They're my world. My friends? Well, they've manage to stick by me through my awful “I’m gonna make money playing video games” phase so they're definitely here for keeps.

What quality do I most admire in a man?
Are we talkin’ about dating or…

In a woman.
What’s with all the dating questions? I mean, sure I've never been on a real one but…

Favorite occupation.
I'd love to own my own magic shop like my parents do. But working at the Comic Compendium isn't bad. I love Ron and all the people who work there. We’re a small shop, but we’re all passionate about the comics and get a lot of business.

What I most value in a friend.
Loyalty.

My best friend, Marcus, is a siren and they’re not known for sticking around. But Marcus has stuck by my side since elementary school. It’s probably why I've been in love with him so long. Wait…can you cut that last part out?

Most marked characteristic?
My t-shirts. I've got loads of anime and comic book swag. I wear ‘em on a pretty consistent basis. My sister tells me not to wear them on dates, but they’re too awesome not to. The one I'm wearing now is limited edition. Who doesn't want to see that?

Principle defect.
Um…probably that I don't like to listen and I try to do everything myself. But I do it because it’s safer that way.

What Would I Like to Be?
You mean other than a superhero? Other than that, I’d probably like to actually figure out what I am. I've been told I’m a witch my whole life, even the government has me listed as one, but recently, I'm not so sure.

My heroes in real life.
My Gran. She taught me how to use my powers to help people. She’s always been there for me. But I get the feeling she’s hiding something from me.

What is it I most dislike?
I hate that the government is forcing non-humans to register and get branded.

Natural gift I would most like to possess.
I’d like to be able to seduce people with my voice like Marcus does. There’s this girl at work that I'm dying to talk to. But the Alpha of the local werewolf pack has his eyes set on me. I'm not complaining, mind you, but I'd like to be able to flirt back without flailing like an idiot.

Present State of Mind.
Worried about the monster attacking neighborhoods near me and the local police not doing anything about it. The fact that I'm pretty sure the monster belongs to one of the clients who hired me to track their missing “pet” worries me too.

What is my motto?
Probably the Green Lantern Oath. It helps me concentrate and you can do almost anything with enough willpower. After all, magic is about using your will to manipulate to the elements around you.

...Thanks for the awesome interview! Girls never talk to me. Especially hot ones like you…

Kristina: Whoa! [Readers, he actually said that. I did not make that up.] So, thanks, I guess that means...what, exactly?

Rochelle: Oh, I didn't…I mean I wasn't…you know…hitting on you. Unless…I mean, I’m free Friday, if you don't mind things blowing up or catching on fire when I’m embarrassed. Say, you wouldn't happen to like comic books and anime would you?

Kristina: (high fives)
~*~

About the book: When Rochelle LeBeau is offered $20,000 to find Andros Nadasdy's missing supernatural pet, he’s wary; Andros is notorious in the underbelly of the supernatural world. 

And when local werewolf pack leader Jeremiah Pearson urges Rochelle to find the monster before his pack is blamed and executed for the missing children in his neighborhood, Rochelle is eager to solve the case. 

Photo (c) Jessica Barlow.
But with his powers on the fritz, how can Rochelle find the culprit without losing himself? Especially when it looks like his own family has been keeping secrets from him.

About the author: A freelance author and comic book enthusiast, Jessica Barlow graduated with a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia with all the peaches and pecans she could eat. 

She is currently writing about superheroes in love. Variant Magic is her debut novel. 

For more Jessica, you can find her on Facebook  and keep up with her writing on her blog.

19 March 2015

Mark Your Calendars!



Monday, April 13th

First Class Literary Magazine will publish my poem "Victor Stitches," a haiku that gives a shout-out to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I'll post the hyperlink once it goes up. 

First Class Lit is a unique literary magazine in that any work, once approved for publication, is submitted and delivered in bite-size chunks on postcards--like a literary version of Post Secret with original poetry and prose. 

Not only did I write the poem, but I fabricated the postcard for it, too, including the hand-stitching. I'm pleased as punch the world will get to see it. 

Stay tuned, friends, and thanks for your support!

16 March 2015

Proust Your Protagonist with author Deanna Dee

Meet Molly, one of two protagonists in the
fun, geeky romance, Critical Hit-On.

Presenting

Molly Moreau

Molly: Hi. My name’s Molly, and I just graduated with my B.A. in graphic design. And because the job market is awesome, I work as a waitress.

I'm kind of on a journey of self-discovery, and if I get lucky, today’s talk will help me along the way. One never knows, right?

Kristina: People do tend to find out surprising things about themselves when they answer these questions. Marcel Proust was all about introspection. Anyway, thanks for letting me interview you!

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? 
Being forced to hide who I am. Well, maybe not forced, but feeling like I have to keep my real self a secret. It’s not easy, and it’s not fun.

Where would you like to live?
Don’t get me wrong. I like New England, but I think I’d like to get away from everything the place means to me. Maybe California. Graphic design and the movie industry is a good combination.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
I want to be accepted, whatever that means for my life.

The quality you most admire in a man? 
Straightforwardness. Tell me if you don’t want me around. Don’t sneak behind my back to get a message across.

The quality you most admire in a woman?
Compassion. My best friend, Nikki, is my rock and always has been. It’s great to know I can go to her with anything and that she’ll be there for me.

Your favorite virtue? 
Resilience. It helps me recover from blows that really hurt.

Your favorite occupation? 
Uh, anything but waitressing. And basically anything were I could use my degree. I love being able to be creative.

Your most marked characteristic? 
How emotional I am. When things hit me, they hit hard. When things make me laugh, I laugh like a hyena on drugs.

What do you most value in your friends? 
Honesty and compassion. I don’t like to be betrayed or lied to, and I want to feel cared for. And I want to give back tenfold.

What is your principle defect?
I tend to jump to conclusions. If something hasn't worked in the past, I’ll reject it every time in the future. I need to work on that in some instances, but in others, like boyfriends, a little wariness is best.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?
Being tossed aside. I don’t do it to others (extenuating circumstances aside), and I don’t want it done to me.

What would you like to be? 
An artist. More importantly, myself. My true self.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Well, Nikki. I wish I could be as strong as she is. Also, my mom. Again, she just has so much strength, and she keeps going when everything’s against her.

Who are your favorite heroines?
The pink power ranger. Uh, I mean, someone normal like Martha Stewart, except not her.

What is it you most dislike?
Being used. Like I've said about other stuff, I don’t do it. I don’t want it done to me.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?
Confidence. I feel like I used to have it, but it got lost somewhere. I’d like it back.

How would you like to die?
In my sleep, I think. Yeah. Peacefully in my sleep.

What is your present state of mind?
Closed. Uncertain. I want things to work out moving forward, but I’m not sure they will. And that scares me.

What is your motto?
Be what they expect, not what you are.

...Well, that’s about it. Thanks for having me today. I think these questions have helped me learn a bit about myself. Now to apply my new-found knowledge.

~*~

About the Book: Molly Moreau used to be a geek with the best of them—role-playing games, multi-user dungeons, trading cards—the works. Then she found her long-time boyfriend in a dark corner with a girl dressed as Lara “boobs and guns” Croft. That was it for the relationship and for her geekiness. After moving back home, she got a job at a normal bar and grill with normal people to live a normal life. That is until Craig shows up with his RPG character sheet.

Craig Lawrence has been rolling 1s on the relationship front ever since his last girlfriend broke up with him because he apparently spent too much time playing guardian to his rebellious little sister. When he meets Molly, he wants more than anything to win her heart, and this time he’ll do anything to keep his family problems from interfering.

Photo (c) Deanna Dee.
When fate (Molly’s best friend) brings Craig and Molly together (sets them up on a date), will this relationship roll yet another 1? Or will it score a critical hit?

Buy the book here. Read about the book herehere, and here.

About the Author: Deanna Dee is strictly human and does not, to her knowledge, own a hyena. She lives by the sea, which she takes full advantage of in the summer time. Nerd culture and pop culture make up the shameless downtime of her life. The rest of it is writing, and she’s okay with that.

For more of Deanna, check out her official site, her Twitter, and Facebook. You can also visit her author pages on Amazon and Goodreads.

15 March 2015

Proust Your Protagonist with Deanna Dee

Meet Craig, one of the protagonists in the
funny, geeky, and adorable love story
Critical Hit-On.

Introducing

Craig Lawrence

Craig: Hey, I’m Craig. I just finished my junior year of college, and I'm getting ready to start a glorious summer job working construction with my uncle, which I'm doing because it fits really well with my psychology major. I live to contradict. My summer plans are pretty simple. I live at home because I'm mostly broke, and when I’m not working or in school, I fill my time with video games, movies, and hanging out with my dedicated group of lifelong friends who are just as geeky as I am. In fact, we're so geeky we're beginning a Marshalls and Magics campaign. What is that, you ask? It’s a tabletop RPG, and I'm super excited to get rolling…the dice.

Kristina: I see what you did there. (high fives)  

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? 
Being rejected for something that’s out of my control. I’m okay with rejection, but I want to know I did something to earn it.

Where would you like to live?
I’m pretty fond of New England. Think I’ll stay here for a while.

What is your idea of earthly happiness? 
Like my summer plans, this is pretty simple. I want someone I can be with romantically. I want my friends around. I want a job doing what I love, my family, and the ability to have fun.

The quality you most admire in a man? 
Honesty. I guess that’s a quality to admire in anyone, but I really respect guys who tell the truth, both to others and themselves.

The quality you most admire in a woman? 
Understanding. Life gets in the way sometimes. It’s not that I don’t want to be with you. It’s sometimes that I need to be somewhere else.

Your favorite virtue?
Patience. I believe in it and try to be it.

Your favorite occupation?
Not construction worker. Heh. Well, I guess family counsellor. That’s what I wanna do with my life.

Your most marked characteristic?
Hmm, my humor? Or maybe my ability to deliver bad puns. My friend Sonya calls me out on that one a lot.

What do you most value in your friends?
I like that they are there and that they have similar interests to mine. Nothing’s better than being able to share stuff with people who “get it.”

What is your principle defect? 
Well, I try to be patient, but often I fail. My rope snaps sometimes. I’m working on it.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes? 
Losing my freedom. Maybe it’s because I’m twenty-one and a college student, but I want to be able to do what I want when I want within reason. I’m down with responsibility and scheduling things that need to be done, but I want to have time for me that stays for me.

What would you like to be? 
As I said, a family counsellor, though, this question seems deeper than that. I want to be a good person who can help other people.

Who are your heroes in real life? 
In real life. So I guess Spock is out of the answer key? Well, my best friend, Lyd, is one. She’s brave and tough and just a great person. And I can hear her blushing right now, but she deserves everything I just said.

Who are your favorite heroines? 
Wonder Woman. Hands down. She rocks.

What is it you most dislike? 
People being intentionally cruel to someone. People making others feel like they aren't worth it. If you wanna bring yourself down, fine, but don’t do it to someone else.

What natural gift would you most like to possess? 
Wisdom. I want to be able to make good, well-informed decisions. Not sure if that’s really a gift, but there it is.

How would you like to die?
Fighting orcs. Seriously, peacefully, but not too peacefully. Give me a little action.

What is your present state of mind? 
It’s on the move. I’m at a turning point in life, and that’s cool. I’m along for the ride and excited to see where it takes me.

What is your motto? 
“Fear leads to suffering.” The Jedi could have done with a lesson in condensing.

...So, yeah, that’s me. Thanks for having me around today, and catch ya later.

~*~

About the Book: Molly Moreau used to be a geek with the best of them—role-playing games, multi-user dungeons, trading cards—the works. Then she found her long-time boyfriend in a dark corner with a girl dressed as Lara “boobs and guns” Croft. That was it for the relationship and for her geekiness. After moving back home, she got a job at a normal bar and grill with normal people to live a normal life. That is until Craig shows up with his RPG character sheet.

Craig Lawrence has been rolling 1s on the relationship front ever since his last girlfriend broke up with him because he apparently spent too much time playing guardian to his rebellious little sister. When he meets Molly, he wants more than anything to win her heart, and this time he’ll do anything to keep his family problems from interfering.

Photo (c) Deanna Dee.
When fate (Molly’s best friend) brings Craig and Molly together (sets them up on a date), will this relationship roll yet another 1? Or will it score a critical hit?

Buy the book here. Read about the book here, here, and here.

About the Author: Deanna Dee is strictly human and does not, to her knowledge, own a hyena. She lives by the sea, which she takes full advantage of in the summer time. Nerd culture and pop culture make up the shameless downtime of her life. The rest of it is writing, and she’s okay with that.

For more of Deanna, check out her official site, her Twitter, and Facebook. You can also visit her author pages on Amazon and Goodreads.

12 March 2015

Proust Your Protagonist with B. Leslie Tirrell

Meet Ichigo, the protagonist of the
LGBT romance Strawberry Nemesis.
Art (c) Kristina Elyse Butke

Introducing

Ichigo Nakamura

Ichigo is an 18-year-old Japanese-American student living in Japantown, USA. He’s studying to become a veterinarian and volunteers at a cat shelter in town called "Kitty Paws." When he finds an injured, black cat on his way home one day, he takes it in and nurses it back to health, not knowing that he’s helping none other than the cat god, Bast, also known as Makoto, who, in his human form, Ichigo finds extremely hot. 

During a long and uneventful shift at work, I emailed Ichigo my little Proust Questionnaire so he could kill some time. I didn't expect him to answer me, though, seeing as how we don't really know each other that well (we are connected through friends of friends online, of course). But, he surprised me. Especially when he clued me in about his cute friend Makoto. I hope that works out. 

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Hell of a first question. I don’t know. I don't usually think about those kinds of things. Let’s see…loneliness with no hope. Yeah. That’s it. Loneliness without hope.

Where would you like to live?
I like Japantown. I’m guaranteed an internship and job when I graduate college in three years. My family is here…when they're home anyway.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Am I allowed to mention sex here? Cause that’d be it. I mean I haven’t had it, had it…technically.

The quality you most admire in a man?
Intelligence.

The quality you most admire in a woman?
Intelligence.

Your favorite virtue?
Patience…I could use more of it.

Your favorite occupation?
Veterinarian.

Your most marked characteristic?
Nothing really. I’m pretty ordinary looking.

What do your most value in your friends?
Trustworthiness, sense of humor, similar interests

What is your principle defect?
I've been told I can be an ass.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?
Being stagnant. I mean, I'm going to college to become a vet and everything, but what if something comes up that prevents it and I can't do it? What if I lose motivation? I could end up like one of those guys you see spending all day in the arcade drinking energy drinks and never sleeping or going anywhere with their lives. I don't want that to be me.

What would you like to be?
A successful veterinarian with my own practice and staff.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My parents and grandpa. They worked hard for everything they have.

Who are your favorite heroines?
My mom, I guess. I don't get to see her much because she works all the time. We Skype though.

What is it you most dislike?
Liars.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?
Drawing.

How would you like to die?
Quickly and painlessly.

What is your present state of mind?
Mellow.

What is your motto?
Nothing I can think of. Sorry.

...Thanks for interviewing me, Kristina. This was fun. Makoto (Bast) is a bit jealous that he didn't get chosen, but we all know his answers would’ve been a little too off the wall. He tends to go off on tangents and never would've gotten back to the original question.

~*~

Photo (c) B. Leslie Tirrell
B. Leslie Tirrell’s first novel, A Jinni’s Wish, has been contracted with noted publisher LooseId and is available for pre-order now! This interview is from her current project, Strawberry Nemesis

When she isn't writing or doing something writing- related, she watches anime, plays Final Fantasy, cosplays, and paints. She lives in Toledo, Ohio with five cats.

To learn more about B. Leslie, check out her author introduction. And be sure to stop by her official Facebook page

10 March 2015

The Voice Actor Anime Watchlist

Image Source 
I've attended anime conventions and given writing panels since 2012, and one of my favorite things to do (although it's not always easy to) is meet voice actors for some of my favorite series!

 I've had the pleasure of meeting several VAs you'd recognize (most of them through Funimation productions), and when I'm not overly starstruck (unfortunately this does happen), I try to ask each VA the exact same question:

What is something you're really proud of that you'd like me to see?

I ask this because there's still a lot of anime I'm not familiar with (but I am definitely catching up!), and also because I wonder if there are other roles each actor has played that might be overlooked because they weren't star-makers or fan favorites.

It's also easy to forget that a lot of VAs perform roles outside of acting when it comes to localizing anime, such as scriptwriting, ADR, and directing; this is another reason why I thought I'd give the actor the opportunity to recommend me a show based on their personal feelings about it.

I've been hit-and-miss with my interactions with VAs (I get irrationally nervous around them), so unfortunately my ratio of answers to actors is grievously slim. I hope to continue to build this list over time.

In the meantime, I have the VA name hyperlinked to their bio/cast lists, their response to me in bold, and the plot synopsis of the series, which is sourced from MyAnimeList.net (because I haven't watched most of these yet). Enjoy!

~*~




Black Lagoon - "Okajima Rokuro is a Japanese businessman in a town full of Japanese businessmen. His normal day consists of social drinking with clients and being kicked around by his bosses. He finally gets a break though, as he's sent by his company to the tropical seas of Eastern China to deliver a disc. But his boat gets hijacked by a band of mercenaries hired to retrieve the disc. Rock (as he is newly dubbed by his captors) catches the interest of the only female merc Revy as she thinks he's worth a ransom, taking him hostage. However, the disc that was stolen has a terrible secret that's unknown to Rock, which causes massive confusion and chaos for both him and his kidnappers."


Jerry Jewell  



Baccano! -   "During the early 1930s in Chicago, the transcontinental train, Flying Pussyfoot, is starting its legendary journey that will leave a trail of blood all over the country. At the same time in New York, the ambitious scientist Szilard and his unwilling aide Ennis, are looking for missing bottles of the immortality elixir. In addition, a war between the mafia groups is getting worse. On board the Advena Avis, in 1711, alchemists are about to learn the price of immortality.


Based on the award winning light novels of the same name, this anime adaptation follows several events that initially seem unrelated, both in time and place, but are part of a much bigger story—one of alchemy, survival and immortality. Merging these events together are the kindhearted would-be thieves, Isaac and Miria, connecting various people, all of them with their own hidden ambitions and agendas, and creating lifelong bonds and consequences for everyone involved."

Jonny Yong Bosch 


Wolf's Rain - "In some distant future, it's common knowledge that all wolves have been extinct for 200 years. However, it seems this is false as wolves have not disappeared but rather have taken human form. Kiba, a lone wolf, wanders into a city, trying to sniff out the Lunar Flowers that are supposed to lead whoever follows the scent to paradise. The source of the smell is Cheza, a girl who sleeps in what appears to be suspended animation in a lab. She and the wolves are drawn to each other, and Kiba hopes to find paradise once he finds the source of the scent of Lunar Flowers. However, once Kiba finds Cheza, she is kidnapped by a mysterious person called Darcia, and his search begins anew. Before he leaves the city, he meets 3 other wolves, Tsume, Hige and Toboe. All four wolves have very different personalities and ideas, and their friendliness towards each other is a little rough around the edges. However, they soon band together to continue to search for paradise."

Code Geass - "On August 10th of the year 2010 the Holy Empire of Britannia began a campaign of conquest, its sights set on Japan. Operations were completed in one month thanks to Britannia's deployment of new mobile humanoid armor vehicles dubbed Knightmare Frames. Japan's rights and identity were stripped away, the once proud nation now referred to as Area 11. Its citizens, Elevens, are forced to scratch out a living while the Britannian aristocracy lives comfortably within their settlements. Pockets of resistance appear throughout Area 11, working towards independence for Japan.

Lelouch, an exiled Imperial Prince of Britannia posing as a student, finds himself in the heart of the ongoing conflict for the island nation. Through a chance meeting with a mysterious girl named C.C., Lelouch gains his Geass, the power of the king. Now endowed with absolute dominance over any person, Lelouch may finally realize his goal of bringing down Britannia from within!"

Mike McFarland 


Eden of the East - "On November 22, 2010 ten missiles strike Japan. However, this unprecedented terrorist act, later to be known as "Careless Monday," does not result in any apparent victims, and is soon forgotten by almost everyone. Then, 3 months later... Saki Morimi is a young woman currently in the United States of America on her graduation trip. But just when she is in front of the White House, Washington DC, she gets into trouble, and only the unexpected intervention of one of her fellow countrymen saves her. However, this man, who introduces himself as Akira Takizawa, is a complete mystery. He appears to have lost his memory, is stark naked, except for the gun he holds in one hand, and the mobile phone he's holding in the other. A phone that is charged with 8,200,000,000 yen in digital cash."

Vic Mignogna 


Ouran High School Host Club - "Fujioka Haruhi wins a scholarship to attend Ouran Academy, a school reserved for only the most rich and prestigious. Despite what other students may think of her, she cares little for physical appearances or the fact that she is a commoner.

Unfortunately for Haruhi, her high school days take a sudden turn when she stumbles upon the Host Club, an elite club filled with super rich and beautiful boys who use their specific traits and charms to entertain young ladies. Even worse, Haruhi accidentally breaks an 8-million yen vase in the club. Since she is unable to repay her debt with money, Haruhi finds herself with no choice but to work for the Host Club, becoming a male host herself."


08 March 2015

Shout-out to "The Boyfriend Project"...for shouting out to me!

Coming soon!
I am friends with some of the most creative people ever and I'm happy I played a part in an up-and-coming comedy webseries, The Boyfriend Project. (Tip of the hat to Nate Zoebl, co-creator and episode writer, and Eric Muller, who is also an episode writer and actor in the series).

My contribution: a very kitschy book cover which will debut in Episode 12.

I was honored to even be asked to contribute. I never made a book jacket before and didn't know my way around Photoshop for the life of me,  and after some research on book jacket sizing and design, I crossed my fingers and hoped something would work.

I like to make digital art when I can, but to be honest, I don't really know what I'm doing most of the time. I have a tendency to sit and click buttons and make a lot of mistakes before I pump something out. I also collect (maybe horde) royalty-free stock images, which helps when I can't draw what I see in my head. 

But I must be doing something right, because I'm a part of this awesome show! (And I have an IMDB credit, too, as a prop designer. Ooh la la! I'm climbing up!).

Anyway, thank you to The Boyfriend Project for picking me for today's "Get to know the cast/crew." 

Expect further signal boosts for this series, friends!

02 March 2015

Proust Your Protagonist with Frankie Stevens

Meet Prince Ablias from The Divine Spark,
the first book in the Polarity Breach series
by author Frankie Stevens.

Presenting His Royal Highness

Prince Ablias

Never in my life did I think I'd have the chance to meet a prince. Well...I've met the Prince of Boxing and someday before I die I'd like to high-five Prince, but when it comes to bonafide flesh-and-blood royalty, I couldn't believe someone like Prince Ablias would give me the time of day. And not only a royal prince, but a prince of wizards?!? Incredible.  

Kristina: Prince Ablias, I'm humbled and delighted you're here. Thank you for allowing me to interview you. And I hate to sound so clich├ęd, but I think you're absolutely charming. Really. You seem very down-to-earth.

Prince Ablias: Thank you for having me, Madam Butke. I get nervous before big interviews so I’m sorry that I accidentally turned your houseplant into a viper. Snakes are just another thing that makes me nervous so it’s not surprising that one popped into my head at that moment. Also, a big event is going to happen in my life soon. And, please, call me Your Highness. It’s the respectable thing to do even though I'm not that crazy about being so exceptional.

Kristina: Your Highness. Right. Sorry. And if vipers aren't too poisonous, I suppose we're okay. Hopefully. (clears throat). First question, Your Highness:

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? 
The lowest depth of misery, to me, is to be lonely. No, I’m not talking about isolating yourself from people. That’s being alone, which is different. A person can be lonely even in a crowd of people. For the first four years of my life, I was mostly surrounded by my mother, my father, my nine older siblings and the servants. Sure, my siblings weren’t too kind to me but my mother, as busy as she normally was, would intervene if things got out of hand. 

And then the massacre happened. It wasn’t until Sardonicus Mafic killed my mother and siblings that I realized how much I depended on them for love and company. My father simply wasn’t interested in being the sole provider of those things for me, so when my mental magical outbursts got out of hand, he dumped me into the Troubled Boys’ Home. Despite being surrounded by boys who were under the same circumstances, I still felt disconnected and numb. I suppose it was good that the people running the place had us do certain activities to take our minds off our minds but I never saw anybody there as family.

Where would you like to live?
Ever since my dad introduced me to the ancestral land of Kakaan, I’ve simply fallen in love with the place. Such a scenic view! The people there live in simple tribal societies but this place proves that you don’t need tall, fancy buildings when you have massive green trees that have weathered many a storm and provide shelter with their roots. Also, there is a thrill in hunting and foraging for your food and clothing that you don’t get when you go shopping or have a servant give you an elaborately prepared dish that you ask for. Granted, the peasants in my home country still do at least some of these things but I’m part of the all-important elite. And I’d never forget the other reason to live in Kakaan, which is my lovely Laiune.

What is your idea of earthly happiness? 
Earth may be the name of your planet but no such place exists in the Outer Universe, so I wouldn’t use the word Earthly. Outer Universal happiness would be a better way to phrase it. My idea of it would be to explore the areas that have not been explored. Sure, plenty of people have settled in plenty of places but your own experience matters just as much as the collective experience of sapienity (a word that we use instead of humanity, since humans aren't the only race). I suppose it’s because I spent almost my entire childhood in one place and saw the same things every day. Even if going to new places makes me unhappy somehow I would still be happy for doing it, as paradoxical as that sounds.

The quality you most admire in a man? 
I like a guy who does not resort to violence right away. As a politician in training, I am always trying to be diplomatic – you know, resolving conflicts peaceably and not offending others. It’s rather odd that politicians that are twice my age have forgotten how to do those things. I would also find a man honorable if he only hurts things for nourishment or self-defense, although the former still makes me uncomfortable since I am a vegetarian (I’m not preachy about it, though).

The quality you most admire in a woman? 
I like a woman who has something to teach others. If she has a piece of advice to give us or a problem that needs correcting, she shouldn’t be afraid to speak up. If Gronara the Medicine Woman were fifty years younger, I would have considered dating her, and no, I am not afraid to admit that. However, Laiune has been teaching me a few things about the flora and fauna of her world and she’s quite patient when I’m learning a new skill. 

Your favorite virtue?
There are several that I have. One of them is mercy. My dad and others in my society feel the need to deride the Sardons (people from the nation of Sardonica) as stupid and greedy. I know for a fact that not all of these people fit that description but that isn’t the point. The point is that even people who are stupid and greedy became that way through certain circumstances, like upbringing. I believe that people who are unfavorable deserve another chance and, maybe then, they will meet our approval. 

My other favorite virtue is chastity. When young people in Vitalia turn sixteen (or younger if they have permission from their parents), they participate in a ritual during mid-Spring where they perform the Creative Rite, or what you people would call sex, with an acolyte. They do this in order to learn the loving and creative ways of the God and Goddess, as well as shake off the last bit of childhood innocence they have left. I didn't partake in this ritual. This is because I believe that the Creative Rite is sacred enough so that it should be done with someone you love, preferably the person that you intend to marry. My opinion may stray from the norm but it’s my opinion nonetheless. 

Your favorite occupation?
That’s an easy one! My favorite occupation is that of a healer. The great thing about being a wizard is that your magical practice does not have to match up with your day job. That is to say that even if I weren't a member of the Royal Family, I’d still be a healer. The position of healer is usually stereotyped as a woman’s job but let me tell you, it can get pretty intense. What you do to help a person may not work exactly as you plan and that person may die. All that time, you wonder whether doing something else would have made the situation turn out differently. Thankfully, I haven't gotten to that point in my career yet but I have successfully healed people and the smiles on their faces and the thought of you making a difference in their lives are worth it

Your most marked characteristic? 
People have told me that I am humble, at least for a nobleman. I tend not to think negatively of those below me. In fact, I'm more likely to help them, that is, if they want the help. Also, I'd rather not have a servant do everything for me. I’d rather do things myself. I suppose I got this industriousness from my mother. One of the few memories I have of her is that she would give the servants one day off a week and take care of the chores and childcare herself on that day. I’m also not afraid to do a little rugged adventuring even though I am one of the last members of the Royal Family left. We all need some risk in our lives. 

What do you most value in your friends? 
I only have one friend right now and she’s been my friend since we were youths. There’s a reason she’s my only friend: she’s amazing. She’s patient, she’s kind and she’s never needy. We've been seeing each other regularly for the past ten years. Other couples have differing interest but if I’m interested in something, she’s curious about it as well. She sat with me while I learned about medicine from the Medicine Woman. What’s more, she’s interested in my world and other worlds, even if she only hears about it from me. She doesn't have the same sense of adventure as I do but I’m sure she’ll change her mind overtime. These are among the many reasons that I will be spending the rest of my life with her… or at least she will be spending the rest of her life with me since wizards have long lifespans.

What is your principle defect? 
I try too hard to please people. I have come to terms with the fact that I do not want to continue the tradition of practicing battle magic but I don’t want to disappoint my father. He had a dream of training my oldest brother Euripides to be as fierce and skillful a fighter as those before him but those dreams were tragically cut short. Now, he’s left with a son that he constantly disagrees with and I tend to beat myself up over that. I’m also going to be ruler sometime in the future and there will be a whole swath of people disagreeing with me then.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?
Losing everyone you've ever known or loved. I don’t care about my fame and fortune. Someone else can have that for all I care. It makes me think that family doesn't have to be someone who shares your blood. People who aren't related can love you just as much and that makes me feel hopeful. 

What would you like to be? 
I want to be an effective ruler who is not tyrannical like some of my ancestors were. I know I won’t be the only one since there’s an entire council who will be by my side. When I know enough about medicine, I would like to pass this knowledge on at no cost. I have enough money already, so this wouldn't be a problem. 

Who are your heroes in real life? 
As odd as it sounds, I see my dad as a hero. Sure, I get into fights with him but he’s a man with the entire Outer Universe on his shoulders. He has the will to carry on even when most of his family has perished. Either that or he’s just good at hiding his emotions. He also taught me my first bit of healing magic, although he didn't think it would lead anywhere. At times when he’s being stubborn, I have to be my own hero, which isn't as hard as it sounds.

Who are your favorite heroines? 
My favorite heroines are the women who train with Gronara. Bepsona tradition dictates that a Medicine Woman inherits her position from her mother. However, if the current Medicine Woman doesn't have any daughters, other women step up and volunteer to become new Medicine Women. These women do it because they truly care about the tribe, not because they inherited it with no say in the matter.

What is it you most dislike? 
I don’t like violence. This is a simple answer that anyone could relate to but reasons behind not liking violence can differ. Violence was what nearly destroyed my family and all it does is escalate into a chain of revenge that doesn't end until one man is on top. However, there are instances where violence is inevitable and the very passion you feel toward someone makes you fall under its destructive spell. I am certainly not immune to this and neither are you.

What natural gift would you most like to possess? 
I would like to empathize with people a bit more. I can empathize with people who have loved and lost, that’s easy. I mean, sure, when a patient is suffering, I know that he’s suffering and I feel bad but I've never known what it is like to suffer from a brain-eating disease or to accidentally swallow a fork. And I’ll never know what it’s like to give birth. Granted, there are spells that can simulate the experience but I’ll just take the woman’s word for it, thank you very much.

How would you like to die?
I would take a non-heroic but dignified death. I would be resting in my royal bed surrounded by friends and loved ones. Granted, the media would be all over it and would never give me a moment of privacy. It seems that, no matter how many embarrassing mistakes you make in your life, people are always sad to see you die if you were famous. 

What is your present state of mind? 
I say that things are looking up. I am going to marry my best friend, which would lead to us building a bigger and better royal family. I don’t think anything will come along to ruin that.

What is your motto?
Don't judge a wand by how sparkly it looks. If it’s sparkly and doesn't do anything, then don't judge the other sparkly wands by that one.

~*~

Author Frankie Stevens.
About the bookAfter a tragic event, Prince Ablias went from being the last born prince to being the crown prince of the wizards. As he is on the cusp of manhood, he is still deciding which type of magic to pursue for his studies. As he does this, he meets and befriends a tribal girl who shares his interest in plants and makes his life a little sweeter. Meanwhile, the man who massacred most of Ablias’ family has triplet nephews who each have unique ways of finishing what their uncle has started. Once his friend’s tribe becomes threatened by one of the brothers’ plans, Ablias must decide how to use his magic in order to save both the tribe and the royal family.

About the Author: Frankie Stevens in an author that has had a love of writing ever since she could pick up a pencil. All sorts of inspirations have come to her over the years, including novels, video games, movies and other media. However, she perfected her skill after earning a BA in English/Writing from Framingham State University. Now that she has become a published author, she hopes to continue with her hobby. She currently lives outside of Boston, MA.

For more of Frankie Stevens, visit her official website. Keep up with Frankie's writing by visiting her Goodreads and Amazon Author Central pages. And be sure to follow Frankie on Twitter!