Dear readers, tonight with us is a young man who discovered a magical land after following his father through a magical portal that opened on their computer screen.
Things, however, quickly revealed themselves to be not as idyllic as initially seemed. He is here with us to tell us about his adventures.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I grew up in the suburbs of Seattle. We had a small house in an old neighborhood. My dad had a foundry business and made things like armor for renaissance faires. He made swords too. Really big beautiful swords. Mom stayed home mostly. I think we were a pretty happy family except when I was ten years old my mom died and that kind of made everything go black for me and Dad. He tried to make up for her absence, treating me special but I could see he was broken hearted. I clammed up like a shell. Started overachieving at school. Got too smart for my class and they skipped me to the next grade. We coped the best we could and then Dad found the portal. That changed my life forever-both our lives. We went into the Realm and, well that was it.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
Not so much toys, not that I can remember. I pretty much forgot what life was like when Mom was alive. They say it’s because I was young and trauma does that to people. I do draw though. Always did. That’s how I spent alone time. Then when I got older I drew on the computer and made characters that we used for Dad’s game engine. That’s how Xylon happened. Boy I spent a lot of time on him, getting his britches just right, and his whiskers and that mole under his left eye. I gave him a Mariners cap too. You won’t believe what happened to him. We inserted him on the computer and he came to life. Yep! And then we met up with him when we went in. The little guy saved my life a couple of times.
What do you do now?
I’m a computer graphic artist now. It’s been a long time since I was that little boy. Now I have my daughter to worry about, Cassie. She wants to go visit the Realm and I keep telling her it’s no place to go. Way too dangerous.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
Well, it’s not really my adventure, it’s Cassie’s. She didn’t listen to me and went in. There’s a lot of trouble happening and I hear tell some of it is her fault. I’d save her, but I think for her own good she needs to bail out of this one on her own. I’ll keep watch, make sure she doesn’t get hurt. I hope.
What did you first think when… ?
I have to go back to my own adventures when I was young to answer this. When Xylon first told me about the dragon that gut feeling, maybe it was fear I don’t know, it wrenched my insides. Abbi was right there and I knew she was having a panic attack so I had to stay calm. It wasn’t easy. Those feelings were nothing compared to the day I saw the phantom on the mountain, and when Dad disappeared. It was more than fear, more than anticipation. There was grief, you know? I mean he vanished and suddenly I was alone on this mountain top in a world that didn’t exist.
What was the scariest thing in your adventures?
There were so many things that were frightening those days that I think I became callous to fear. That’s when I got stronger and started facing obstacles head on. So I have to tell you, the worst part of my adventures, and maybe you won’t believe this but it’s true, was when I realized I was going to be coming home alone. Yeah. There are a lot of reasons for that dread and I won’t get into all of them now, but it was the number one trial I was facing. Heartbreaking. I don’t even like to think about those feelings.
What is the worst thing about…?
Living in the Realm? It’s a really unstable place. Wars break out all the time. So much conflict. No one is at peace there; not the Kaemperns, the Meneks, the wizards, the Xylonites, not even the kingdom of Alisubbo. Everyone’s at war. Everyone is running and hiding and looking for a quiet life and not finding one.
What is the best thing about it?
What’s the best thing about the Realm? Well my dad would have told you the pristine countryside. I like that too but to me it’s the friendship of the Kaemperns. I learned so much from them. And my friends, you just couldn’t ask for better friends. They had my back, even when I was going off on a tangent Jeppe was there cooling me off. When I thought I’d lost Abbi, Xylon was there giving me hope. That and the Northern Winds that sang and protected the good people. I can’t forget about the winds.
Tell us a little about your friends.
My first trip in I met Amleth. He was all about courage strength and integrity. I gave him a run for his money. I mean, I was not a friend to him for almost four years but he stayed faithful to me. And then there was Vilfred. Pardon me as I choke up here. Vilfred was the Sage. When I first saw him I had all those thoughts that kids have when they see someone disabled. Vilfred was paralyzed. They don’t have wheel chairs in the Realm, you know. So they wrapped Vilfred in this huge cradleboard. Aren and Amleth and some of the other men of the village would tend to him day and night, keep him clean, change his dressings. They’d put prayer beads on him and braided his hair. He was special, always smiling, always at peace. I learned a lot from him. He was my grandpa in a sense.
Any romantic involvement?
Abbi and I were meant to be I guess. She was always by my side, always there and when I was young I thought of her as my sister. When she started talking relationship I told her how I felt and that didn’t go over very well. Needless to say, one good fight and you start realizing what someone means to you. Abbi and I went through some storms, to say the least. Not until the pirates took her and that sleazy French boy, did I realize how much I really loved Abbi.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
Daryl. Yeah. Man we still don’t know what’s up with him but I could have wrung his neck a few times, if he weren’t a kid. I had the chance and that’s what made things worse because I had him in my hands, at my mercy and I could have slit his throat and I didn’t do it. Still, Amleth helped me see who he was. And Dad toughened me up about Daryl. You know what he said, and I’ll never forget it. He sat me down and said,
“Before you ask for any more pity for you or that Daryl kid, let me explain something to you. We’re at war. You never served in the military but I have– so take my advice and don’t back talk, and don’t give me any more excuses. When you’re out in the field, you trust no one but your own platoon. You can’t trust the kid down the block. They could be wired. They could blow you up. That Daryl is on the dark side. We don’t know for sure whom he works for, but there’s more to him than what meets the eye. He’s the enemy. How can you expect the Kaemperns to trust you if you feel sorry for him? What would happen if you had to kill that kid in battle? What would you do?”
That question stung and I didn’t know the answer so I just sat there. Then he said,
“You sit there wondering what you’d do, but I tell you, there isn’t time to think…”
He snapped his fingers in my face and said,
“You have this much time to react. A split second. That’s all the time you have to make a choice. And your choice could mean your life and the lives of hundreds of good, honest people. People who are on your side–people who would defend you with their lives.”
He made me think long and hard after that. He toughened me up.
What does the future hold for you?
I think the future holds something for my whole family. As much as Abbi doesn’t want to admit it, but I think we’re all going to have to go back into the Realm. Me, Cassie, Abbi. Who else I don’t know but when Cassie left, things weren’t right. That’s all I can tell you. I have some thinking to do about it. Some tough decisions to make.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
I have one secret. Abbi doesn’t know. Cassie doesn’t either. But the night I rescued Abbi we used the Dragon Shield and its magical powers to protect the children. They were standing near the old oak tree with the hollowed out stump Dad and I used for a cache for our weapons. After the prisoners were secured, a strange person fell out of the tree very near where the Dragon Shield was. Magic I figured is what made him come out. I raised my bow but Jeppe stopped me from releasing it. I’m glad too because I believe that creature was the wizard Silvio. I just bet it was.
Dianne Gardner has a passion for a good wholesome story. Dianne loves a book that ignites imaginations, strengthens friendships, spurs courage and applauds honor. She’s also an oil painter, book illustrator, screenwriter and filmmaker. She writes under the names of D. L. Gardner and Dianne Lynn Gardner. Her other novels include a dystopian future, underwater romance, and a vampire satire.
You can Ian Wilson on the pages of Ian’s Realm Saga.
This is only one stop on Dianne’s blog tour. You can find an interview with her on the Antarim Cycle blog, an author’s spotlight on the Your Next Favorite Author blog, and guests posts on Pukah Works and Angelique Anderson’s blog.
Join us again this Friday for a special guest, one whose four legs mean he was never meant to sit down on a couch, but rather to run free in open meadows. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right), via Twitter or like our Facebook page to be notified when the next interview is posted.