06 September 2014

Proust Your Protagonist with author Lawrence C. Connolly

Meet Axle, the protagonist of
 Lawrence C. Connolly's thrilling novel, Veins.



Kristina:  My guest today is someone I met at random, actually. I was passing through Windslow, and of course, like clockwork, something in my car has to break down whenever I drive through Pennsylvania. AAA had to tow my car to the shop, and that's how I met Axle! He's not that much younger than me (only 27) and, as you might've guessed, a mechanic. His hobbies involve fast cars, and he--

Axle: Please don't make this interview sound like some sort of dating show.

Kristina: (laughs) Oh, right. Sorry. Let's get down to business with some soul-searching questions from Marcel Proust. 

What do you regard as the lowest depths of misery?
When I was eighteen, my great-grandmother died alone in her bed while I sat watching television in the next room. We lived in a trailer. It was a small place. I was maybe ten feet away from her when it happened. I could have been there for her, but I wasn’t. That hurts, and I try not to think about it too much. Mostly, I try not thinking about the way she died and what I saw when I finally went to check on her. 

As much as possible, I try not to let misery into my life, but when it comes, it’s usually from realizing that I let someone down.   

Where would you like to live?
When I was a boy, my great-grandmother taught me to ride the sprit wind. I took her hand, and we flew—first through the air, then through time until we came to an ancient mountain. A village lay in the hollow of that mountain. It was inhabited by people who called themselves the Okwe.  The word means “people,” and that’s how they regarded themselves, as the people of the earth—caretakers of the spirit powers that lie deep within the veins of the world.

The Okwe lived in longhouses constructed of bent poles, overlaid with shingles of flattened bark. I’m sure they had their share of challenges, but I think I would rather live in a house of poles and bark than a singlewide trailer of aluminum and vinyl. 

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
I like fast cars. I know that’s a contradiction, given what I just said about wanting to live in an Okwe village. But until I master the spirit wind, driving fast is the best way I know to get away from all the things that want to tie me down and hold me back.

The quality you most admire in a man?

The quality you most admire in a woman?

Your favorite virtue?

Your most marked characteristic?
None of the above.

Your favorite occupation?
When I was a kid, I dreamed of owning a car shop. That was before I realized what a nightmare running a business can be. 

These days, I’ve been thinking that the best occupation is no occupation at all. That might sound crazy, but there’s a guy who lives outside Windslow. His name is Maynard Frieburg. He calls himself Bird. He’s the sole heir of the family that operated the Windslow Coal Mine before it closed down. He’s rich as hell and doesn’t need to work, and he spends his days doing whatever he wants.

If I were Bird, I’d work on cars all day and not worry about running a business. That would be my favorite occupation. 

What is your principle defect?
I’m too willing to dismiss praise and too ready to trust people who don’t have my best interests at heart.

My great-grandmother once told me I was destined to be a caretaker of the earth. She believed that I would show people the way to a simpler life, one in which people lived in balance rather than opposition to the natural spirits of the earth. I never believed her. Now it might be too late.

Yesterday I met a guy named Spinelli. He wants to rob Bird. Seems that there’s this girl who did bookkeeping for the Frieburg estate, and she knows where Bird keeps his money. Spinelli says it’s a perfect heist, but only if he and his partners can make a fast getaway. That’s where I come in. 

Spinelli wants my Mustang for the getaway car, and he wants me to drive. He says it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, a no-lose proposition. The money I make driving getaway will get me out of debt and still leave enough to renovate my shop.

The heist is set for next week. I think I’m going to do it.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?
Having something go wrong next week.

What would you like to be?

Who are your heroes in real life?
I don’t think I have any.

Who are your favorite heroines?
My great-grandmother. I used to call her Yeyestani. It’s an Okwe word. It means “teacher.” I wish I’d listened to her more.

What is it you most dislike?
Thinking what Yeyestani would say if she knew I was considering driving for Spinelli. 

What natural gift would you most like to possess?
I’d like to be able to ride the spirit wind whenever I want. You might think that’s more of a supernatural gift, but I’m sure the ancient Okwe would have felt otherwise. For them, spirit flight was as natural as walking.

If I could ride the spirit wind right now, I’d take off and rise above all my troubles. I’d fly back in time and check on Yeyestani before she died. Then I’d fly into the future and see if trusting Spinelli really is the smart thing to do.

How would you like to die?

What is your present state of mind?

What is your motto?
I’ve never really thought of that, so I’m not sure I have one. But if I did it would probably be something I said to Spinelli yesterday. He was talking about the things I could do if I had a few thousand dollars to spend on renovating my shop. So I said to him, “If is a big word.” And he didn’t seem to understand, so I added: “If I had wings, I could fly. Know what I mean?”

So maybe that should be my motto. If I had wings, I could fly.

But since I don’t, and since the spirit wind hasn’t been blowing for me lately, it looks like I’ll be driving getaway next week. 


Image (c) Lawrence C. Connolly
Axle is the protagonist of Lawrence C. Connolly‘s contemporary fantasy novel Veins: Book One of the Veins Cycle. The other books in the series are Vipers and the forthcoming Vortex (debuting November 4).

Want to get to know another character from the Veins Cycle? Meet Samuelle!

This week (September 5-10), the ebook edition of Veins is on sale for 99¢ at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Fantasist Enterprises

Fasten your seat belts, and enjoy the ride!

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